Peter Ord

Founder and CEO of GuideCX, Peter has revolutionized the implementation experience by providing the world's most advanced tools for creating a seamless and unforgettable onboarding experience for your customers.

Success in the User Journey: Sales, Onboarding, Adoption, Lagging (Part 2)

In part one of this blog post, we covered the importance of the sales and onboarding processes in creating successful user journeys, and eventually loyal clients. Now we’ll cover two more critical parts of the journey: adoption and lagging.

 

Adoption

The goal of the onboarding process is to get clients to that “aha” moment in the shortest time possible (often called time-to-value, or TTV). You need clients to reach the adoption phase and begin using the product in a way that benefits their business.

However, it’s impossible to increase adoption rates or improve time-to-value if you don’t understand customers’ needs. It’s critical that you analyze the “what” and “why” for your customers to see what creates loyal, long-term clients. In other words, what are the actions your top retained users take? Alternately, what actions lead to a high level of churn? Having quality reporting features within your onboarding software and customer retention databases can help you find this information. It’s important for the onboarding and customer success teams to share this information, then brainstorm how to improve onboarding and retention efforts based on what you discover.

Companies that can successfully align the reason for a user purchasing your product (their why) with the features that will create ROI (the what in your software) will get people to that “aha” moment quicker. When clients are using your product in the way that provides them with the most benefit, they’re far more likely to renew.

Another important process for successful companies is the integration between customer onboarding, customer success, and product development. Onboarding and retention teams can help identify concerns or requests from clients that would improve the product and should be sharing that information with product developers regularly.

 

Lagging

A lot of companies are aware of and track leading indicators—KPIs like adoption, usage, customer engagement, satisfaction, and net promoter scores. On the other side, lagging indicators are also important to measure, and often can help you identify which actions create long-term, loyal customers. The key is understanding the link between lagging indicators and the actions that can improve them. Some important ones to track include:

  • Renewals
  • Growth through cross-selling and upselling
  • Churn

While many companies have this information, the most important thing you can do is identify the clear links between specific actions and positive or negative consequences. For example, if your high churn customers take 50% longer to reach their TTV, you may need to create a more customized onboarding process to help these clients see the value of the software sooner. A competent and comprehensive approach to measurement and analysis can provide a better understanding of what creates loyal, lasting clients.

Learn more about how you can improve your entire customer journey, starting with a better onboarding process using GuideCX software. Schedule your demo today.

Success in the User Journey: Sales, Onboarding, Adoption, Lagging (Part 1)

We hear a lot about a customer’s journey to get to the point of making a purchase or signing a contract for your product. Companies spend a lot of time and money streamlining the funnel to find customers and attract new business, but perhaps an even more important customer journey is the one that starts as the sales process wraps up. That’s the journey of an existing customer: onboarding, adoption, and hopefully retention (or indicators that the customer is lagging and likely to switch).

 

Why Retention Matters

Most people are aware that retention is important, and know that having a high volume of churn is not ideal, but may not know the true costs:

  • S. companies lose over $136 billion a year from avoidable customer switching to a competitor
  • 33% of people would consider switching to another company after a single bad experience with customer service
  • It costs about five times as much to attract a new customer than retain an existing one, but that could be significantly higher for companies with large or complex products
  • A mere 5% uptick in customer retention could increase profits by 25% to 95%
  • The success rate of selling to an existing customer is between 60-70%, while selling to a new customer has a 5-20% success rate

 

How to Improve a Customer Journey

The customer journey within your company starts when sales hands off a new client to the onboarding team. This is perhaps one of the most critical points in your contact with the client because it sets the stage for all your future interactions. If your onboarding team is proficient, helpful, and friendly, the client will have a great first impression and feel confident that they will continue to get exceptional service from you in the future.

 

Onboarding

To improve onboarding:

  • Have a plan for onboarding that is consistent, and you can easily deploy as soon as the sales team provides information about a new client
  • Customize the experience for each clients’ needs (but use software like GuideCX with customizable templates so you don’t have to start from scratch every time)
  • Create an onboarding process focused on your clients and their needs, not on the product—too many companies have onboarding that is just a knowledge base in-person to checkboxes on showing how certain features work, but it should be a process built around helping the client realize the software meets his or her needs
  • Stay in touch with clients throughout the process so they know exactly what they can expect and when onboarding will be done
  • Keep everyone on your team and the client-side accountable with visibility into upcoming tasks and reminders

In part two of this blog, we’ll cover the adoption and lagging portion of a successful customer journey. In the meantime, schedule a demo with GuideCX to learn more about how our industry-leading onboarding software can help you create successful user journeys from the start.

Signs Your Current Onboarding Process is Failing

Customer onboarding is one of the most critical, but also one of the most often overlooked, aspects of success. If you’re not tracking and addressing problems in the onboarding process you could be experiencing high levels of churn (clients leaving right away or as soon as their contract is up) without knowing why.

 

Spot the Red Flags Early

Since onboarding can be a long and expensive process—a Forrester Research study estimated it could take up to 34 weeks and cost up to $25,000 for some financial institutions—it’s important to get it right. Here are some early warning signs of potential risks in the onboarding process.

  • Lack of initial engagement. One of the first signs of a problem is a lack of engagement from the start of your onboarding process. Clients are usually most excited about a new product or service right when they sign the contract, so that’s when you should expect the highest levels of engagement. If you notice low levels of activity—for example, you see that nobody on the team has even logged into the software—someone from your team should reach out immediately to discover what the problem is and correct it. In some cases, it may be as simple as not knowing where to log in, or automated emails with login credentials that went to junk mail. An engaged onboarding team can usually correct these things quickly.
  • Clients overwhelmed with information. Your job as an onboarding team is to help clients understand how to use your product successfully. Unfortunately, some onboarding processes think this means sending a “data dump” of all your knowledge base articles and links in a single email and hoping the client can sort through it all. Instead, carefully map out a successful customer’s journey through onboarding and provide enough information to keep them engaged and guide them along the process, without overwhelming them with everything at once.
  • Communication outside your designated channels. One of the most challenging things in a disorganized onboarding process is communication. Have clear channels available for clients to communicate with a single contact person so they don’t get frustrated and start reaching out to anyone they know at the company—in most cases the other people they contact can’t help anyway, so it just creates more frustration.

 

How to Stay on the Right Track

The best way to stay on the right track and avoid these red flags is to have a streamlined, seamless onboarding process that your team can implement with every client, and that is customizable to the specific needs of each one. GuideCX offers a new onboarding tool that goes above and beyond traditional project management systems with:

  • Customizable templates to launch each client onboarding process while minimizing the manual work required
  • Automated processes to keep clients informed and engaged without overburdening your team members
  • Simple communication tools between your team and your client so you never miss emails, have things go to a spam folder, or any other communication concerns
  • Transparency to allow your clients to see every step of the process so they know exactly where their onboarding is at and how close it is to completion

Find out more by contacting GuideCX today for a demo of our industry-leading client onboarding software.

Are Onboarding Questionnaires Hurting Your Customer Experience?

The new client sales handoff to the customer success team in charge of client onboarding is one of the most crucial times in a new client relationship because it provides an opportunity to build a relationship, and it can set expectations for all your future interactions.

There is a lot of information online about onboarding, and a common piece of advice is to send out a questionnaire to new clients. Questionnaires can provide good information and valuable insight, so we’re not here to tell you they are all bad. However, there are some best practices to make sure you get the questionnaire right so it doesn’t end up hurting your initial customer experience more than it helps.

 

Tip #1: Keep it as simple as possible

Most companies send out an onboarding questionnaire before they even schedule a kickoff meeting, which means it’s literally the first interaction you will have with a new client who just signed a contract. In many cases, it’s also the first contact with the person who will oversee the implementation, and that’s not always the same person who participated in the sales process and signed the contract. If you send them a 27-page document that takes an entire day to fill out, you could sour the relationship before you even have a chance to get it started. Ask the questions that are necessary, but don’t overwhelm them with a big assignment right off the bat.

 

Tip #2: Don’t make clients repeat themselves

There is a good chance that your sales team has been working with the client and building a relationship for a while. During that time, the sales rep may have gathered quite a bit of useful information about the clients’ goals, past solutions they have tried that didn’t work, and reasons for choosing your software right now. Make it part of your sales-to-implementation handoff to transfer this internal knowledge to your onboarding team so you can avoid asking questions in your onboarding questionnaire that were answered during the sales process. Clients won’t feel like they are constantly going over the same information time and time again, and it will make your company’s operations appear seamless for a new client.

 

Tip #3: Get specific when necessary

While you do want to keep the questionnaire simple, you still need to gather information that is as specific as possible about the client’s goals, competitors, target audience, budgets, and deadlines. Ask these questions to ensure you stay on track during onboarding and your deliverables meet their expectations.

 

Tip #4: Don’t combine onboarding with a “satisfaction survey”

Now isn’t the time to include questions about how they heard about you, why they selected your company, or how satisfied they were with the sales process. That can come in the form of a satisfaction survey once the onboarding is complete.

Onboarding is your chance to set the stage for your entire client relationship. Make sure every step—from onboarding questionnaires to your project management software—move you in the right direction with new clients. Talk to GuideCX to learn more about how we’re improving the experience with better client onboarding software.

Customer Experience is the New Frontier for Companies to Succeed

The rise of technology and solutions has created a divide between companies and consumers. More and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon of using automation that may have a short-term benefit of cutting costs or speeding up some process, but in the process they lose the connection to their customers.

As Generation X consumers quietly move into positions of power, they are exerting significant influence in the market with an estimated $200 billion in annual spending power. They may not be as splashy as their Baby Boomer predecessors, or garner the same attention as the Millenials who came after them, but they built an interesting bridge from growing up in a pre-technology age, then adapting to today’s digital world.

They put a higher priority on customer experience and curated, conversational interactions with companies, but they are not alone—in fact, 73% of customers say they believe experience is an important factor in purchasing decisions. Unfortunately only 12% of consumers think brands are doing personalization well.

This leaves a significant opportunity for companies to foster relationships through personalization and connection with their clients. For many companies, the onboarding process is your first, best chance to start that connection.

Where Traditional Onboarding Gets it Wrong

Onboarding usually falls into two categories:

  • Complete automated onboarding that takes a “cookie-cutter” approach. This can create efficiency for your onboarding team but leaves clients with no connection to your company. A 2016 Accenture survey found that 83% of people prefer to deal with a human rather than use digital tools for customer service, so too much automation alienates new clients from the start.
  • Disorganized onboarding where your team has to reinvent the wheel every time. You may have more interaction with clients, but this approach usually takes longer, risks missing steps along the way, and the end result is a frustrated client who is more likely to leave.

The problem for many companies is that they cannot find the tools to allow them to automate and maintain a connection to the client. Most project management tools focus on internal processes while leaving your clients out in the dark. Every minute that passes where you don’t communicate with clients during onboarding is a minute that they start thinking about leaving for a competitor.

The Best of Both Worlds

Automation isn’t the enemy, and in fact, is an essential part of a streamlined and effective onboarding process. But automation that seeks to improve the customer experience through meaningful connection with your brand is what will set you apart in the coming digital age. The GuideCX platform was designed with these two things in mind:

  • Using automation and technology efficiently to reduce the amount of time you spend onboarding new clients and shortening time-to-value (TTV)
  • Maintaining a personal connection to clients so you can show them how to achieve the outcomes they envisioned when they first decided to buy your product

Now is the time for companies to shift their focus to workflows that prioritize customer engagement and personal interactions. That is what will set you apart as we move to the future. Schedule a demo of the GuideCX platform today to learn how we can boost your client engagement.

Peter Ord

4 Tips to Expedite Your Client Onboarding Process

How well do you manage that moment of truth when your sales team hands off a new client to customer success or onboarding teams? If your company is still muddling through client onboarding, struggling with manual processes, or consistently running into frustrations and roadblocks that slow down the process, you may be harming your client relationships in the long run. That makes it harder to keep clients from leaving once their current contract is up.

One of the biggest complaints from companies during onboarding is the time it takes from start to go-live—being able to deliver a quicker time-to-value and completing your onboarding on time according to the schedule you provide at the beginning can significantly improve your clients’ views of the entire onboarding process. Here are five ways you can expedite your onboarding process.

 

1: Standardize the Process

Few things can slow down your onboarding as quickly as the chaos of not having a process. This is especially important as you scale up or grow your company—you want people to have the same quality experience with every onboarding team without missing a step or having things fall through the cracks. Failing to create a standard process leaves so many variables that could easily derail onboarding at every stage.

 

2: Create Templates for Teams to Follow

Once you have your process in place, create an easy template that everyone can follow. When you have the right software (like GuideCX) you can use templates as a starting point, then tweak it to get a customized experience for each new onboarding. No two clients are exactly alike, so you don’t want it to feel like a cookie-cutter experience, but you also need to have a structure for your team to ensure quality and consistency.

 

3: Use Digital Tools Whenever Possible

If your current process requires a lot of paperwork or manual entry (for example, in the financial industry where you need copies of identification, paper applications, loan documents, etc.) that can slow down the process. While not everything can be digitized, there are a lot of tools available now that allow for secure transfer of information and the ability to verify documents, so explore digital tools that give you more flexibility and streamline your processes for collecting information.

 

4: Automate Reporting

Clients want to know what’s going on with their onboarding process. If you don’t have tools that help you automate that reporting, someone on your team is going to spend a lot of time compiling reports and sending this to the appropriate people. In the absence of manual reports, someone will be fielding a lot of calls or emails asking for progress updates. Instead, find a software solution that automates reporting to all the key stakeholders within the process so everyone knows exactly where you stand and when it will be done.

If your current client onboarding software can’t do all these things, contact GuideCX today to learn more about how we are helping companies improve the process with simple and effective onboarding project management tools.

These Critical Steps Will Streamline Campaigns for New Clients

What does your current onboarding process look like right now? If the answer is that you don’t have a process, or your process lives inside one of your team members’ heads, that’s a recipe for losing clients—and the most successful businesses are those that foster loyalty instead of focus on continual new client acquisition. After your sales team closes a deal, your onboarding process needs to prime them for success, and the only way to do that is with a process that you can replicate and optimize. Here are a few tips to streamline your process.

 

Write it Down

It might seem like writing down every step of your onboarding process is a waste of time, especially if you are a small company. But even if you have amazing onboarding now, not having a written process is a recipe for eventual failure because:

  • Team members who own the process could leave the company or get promoted
  • As you grow and scale up your onboarding process, onboarding quality becomes a function of how well your team is trained and can vary
  • You cannot identify gaps or challenges in a process that isn’t defined, scalable, and replicable

Once it’s written down you can create a basic onboarding template that can be tweaked and customized to meet each individual clients’ needs but follows the same basic structure.

 

Set Client Expectations Early

The term “onboarding” can mean a lot of different things, so it’s important to talk to your clients early and often about what they can expect (that’s much easier to do if you have a standard process, by the way). Once everyone knows what to expect from the process, you’re less likely to get sidetracked with client requests that result in work that your team doesn’t normally do during onboarding. It also ensures that what you deliver is exactly what the client expects, limiting frustration and disappointment later.

 

Let Everyone Take Ownership of Their Part

Onboarding is a team effort, not just internally for your people, but also with the client. It requires everyone doing their part to complete tasks on time so you can move forward with the next steps. Make sure everyone knows their assignments and let each person take ownership of their piece of the overall puzzle. This is much easier with a platform like GuideCX, which allows you to add clients to your onboarding project management tasks so they can see the tasks they need to own.

 

Communicate Frequently

Finally, streamlining onboarding requires good communication. If you’re relying on a string of emails with 25 people cc’d and hoping that everyone meets deadlines and stays on task, good luck. Your project management software for client onboarding needs to include built-in (and automated wherever possible) communications about progress, reporting, upcoming and overdue tasks, and any other critical information.

GuideCX is designed specifically to streamline your client onboarding. Find out more about how our platform can help you by scheduling your demo today.

Do You Know Where Your Weak Links are in Customer Onboarding?

Not everyone likes to talk about their weaknesses, but when it comes to onboarding, identifying the weak links in your process could be the difference between long-term client retention and significant levels of churn that stunt your company’s ability to grow. The problem for many companies, though, is not that they don’t want to know their weak links, it’s that they don’t have a good onboarding process to be able to identify the weak links and correct them. That’s where a top-notch client onboarding platform can help.

 

Standardize Your Process

Standardization is critical to be able to show what is happening, why, and to find ways to make improvements. When pharmaceutical companies are testing a new drug, they collect vast amounts of data on every aspect of a patient’s treatment, give the same dose of medication to all 10,000 people in a study, then control for all the variables and report on what happened. If they didn’t have that level of strict standardization, they could never know whether the medication was what helped a patient, or if it was any number of variables.

To find the weak links in your onboarding you need a process that gives you the same information about each client. Having a short checklist that includes things like sending logins and an automated welcome email are not the same as an onboarding process.

 

Have Clear Duties and Responsibilities

One of the biggest challenges in onboarding, especially in larger organizations, is the chance that important tasks are forgotten, missed, or lost in the handoff from sales to client success. Having clearly defined responsibilities reduces the chance of things “falling through the cracks.” Having transparency to show everyone on your team and your client’s team who owns what, when it’s due, and what is currently overdue, significantly increases the chance that everyone on the team will deliver their part on time.

 

Plan for Turnover and Transitions

Another significant challenge that many companies do not account for in onboarding is the chance that someone on your onboarding team (perhaps someone who holds a high-level role) will leave the company. It happens all the time, and if all the onboarding processes, tasks, information, and responsibilities were in that person’s brain, the rest of your team is left scrambling to pick up the pieces. That stalls the onboarding process and leaves your clients unhappy and likely to leave.

Your onboarding software can provide you with a wealth of data that allows you to review what happened in each client onboarding process and see where there is room for improvement. Find out how the GuideCX has changed the way that companies onboarding by offering more standardization, better processes, increased transparency, and improved communications among internal and external teams.