For a B2B SaaS company, getting your product into the hands of those who need it is only half the battle. For your customers to truly get the value out of the product or service you offer, they need a customer onboarding process that gets them up and running in the system as quickly as possible in the most effective and intuitive way possible.
Part of the retention phase of the customer journey, customer onboarding is the term used to describe the process of walking a customer through each step of implementing the service they have purchased. Once the customer has purchased your service or product, onboarding is the step-by-step process you will take them through as they begin implementing each service feature until their first use and then the support you provide afterward. This helps the customer understand your product’s breadth and depth, ensuring you set them up for success right out of the gate with a supportive and positive customer experience.
Much like buying a home or a new car, evaluating onboarding solutions requires understanding your needs, asking the right questions, and working with the right team to find the solution that works best for you.
Before buying a new home or car, they read reviews, talk to friends, and ask questions using specific criteria to help them narrow their choices. You can do the same when choosing an onboarding solution by reading client reviews on industry-specific sites such as G2, asking peers on LinkedIn, chatting in organizational forums, or speaking directly with the company you are considering.
Here are 17 questions you should ask to help you evaluate and differentiate between the options you’re considering:
1. Does this customer onboarding platform offer standardized processes and tasks?
For the best experience, the solution you choose should be one that understands onboarding and has a standardized list of processes and tasks upon which your organization can build. A solution that builds from proven processes and tasks they’ve standardized will help you streamline your current processes more easily. It will identify steps that can be eliminated or connected, ensuring the most efficient onboarding experience for your customers. Suppose they’ve worked with various verticals, SMBs, and enterprise-level organizations. In that case, they’ll understand your specific needs more quickly and be able to ask the right questions to get you up and running more quickly.
In 2020, Groupize experienced a dramatic uptick in growth, leaving the company searching for repeatable implementation and onboarding processes for its clients. With the standardization GUIDEcx provided, Groupize is seeing time savings that equate to 10 days a month due to the system’s automated features.
Our implementation average has shot through the roof, and we’re saving time. I really couldn’t do my job without [GUIDEcx].
—Justin Peticolas, Manager of Implementation and Onboarding, Groupize
2. Does this customer onboarding solution offer a clear way to communicate with internal and external stakeholders?
Suppose communication isn’t being tracked in one unified location. In that case, key information may not be shared with team members who are tracking progress, customers who have questions, and stakeholders who want answers. Being able to communicate with customers and team members within the project helps keep valuable information in one location, keeping communication flowing between all parties.
The right solution will include built-in communication that allows full transparency and triggers automated and collaborative @mention communication even when you’re not logged into the system, keeping everyone on track and on the same page.
3. Does this customer onboarding option include a clear view of the different stages of the project’s progress?
With true transparency into the progress of the project, you can assign or move resources to where they’re needed most. Based upon this high level of visibility, your teams will be able to identify changes in the timeline, roadblocks, and other issues that need to be addressed. This capability is necessary for managing resources and increasing capacity and efficiency for your business. Without it, your team and your customer are left wondering what is next, how close they are to completing onboarding, and if there are any hiccups holding them back. A transparent system reduces friction caused by project blindness.
With a clientele across the globe, EventBooking needed a system to help it organize big projects and increase transparency between its clients and internal team. With the overview of projects that GUIDEcx provided, large groups can now work together on each project, and everyone is on the same page regarding deadlines and responsibilities. This boost in visibility allows both sides of the partnership to stay up to date on changing deadlines.
4. Will I need additional staff, or can I expand our capacity to onboard more customers with even fewer staff?
If your team members currently feel bogged down with an overwhelming amount of tasks that are difficult to track and manage, they need a platform that makes things easier for them. The right solution should eliminate extra tasks, streamlining the process through digitization and automation, thus easing the burden on your implementation team. With a clear roadmap defined and automated within the onboarding system, your staff will be freed from busy work and confusing implementation tasks, allowing them to take on additional duties or onboard new clients, thereby increasing your ROI. The system you choose should expand capacity, not squeeze what you currently have.
After implementing GUIDEcx, Kount was able to achieve an increase in capacity of 40 percent, with engineers now handling 17–20 implementations over their past capacity of 10–12. Not only has Kount significantly improved its processes, but GUIDEcx has also given it what it needs to adapt and grow continuously.
A lot of tools have internal-facing project management for onboarding, but it’s not a customer partnership. It’s different with GUIDEcx.
—Brooke Cantwell, Customer Experience, Kount
5. How quickly can my customers get to value, or will this onboarding process drag on endlessly?
A cumbersome system with clunky processes can drag out implementation. Customer engagement begins to drop off the longer onboarding takes. This means the time to first value for your customer takes forever as well.
As you research various platform options, ask current customers for TTFV (time to value) metrics they achieved with the platform that will help you define which system is providing the fastest way to value.
You’ll want to understand what mechanisms are instilled within the process to help drive that TTFV for your customers. These differentiators are what make the right solution stand out.
The best platform will be efficient, streamlined, and intuitive, allowing your customers to complete the onboarding process faster and helping them get to value as quickly as possible.
G&A Partners’ clients were overwhelmed with tasks they needed to complete—without the accountability of due dates and clear expectations. GUIDEcx offered a simpler way to improve their process templates and tasks as well as speed up the entire implementation process. Now, instead of long email chains, clients have access to a platform where all tasks are organized, and templates intuitively explain the exact process, enabling them to learn on their own. This streamlined process has decreased customer onboarding time by 25 percent, with clients now getting to value in as quickly as four weeks.
The whole GUIDEcx team is friendly and quick to respond. They are quick and eager to help, and the support they offer is great.
—Dominic Ireland, Onboarding Team Lead, G&A Partners
6. Will I see a decrease in customer churn and an increase in customer renewals because of an improved customer onboarding experience?
The customer experience is the number one reason people work with an organization. If the platform you’re considering can’t deliver the best experience possible, it isn’t the right choice. The best customer experience includes one that is pain-free, feels seamless, helps them achieve their goals, and gets them to value quickly, all while being guided by the most experienced team possible. Following these five best practices for superior customer onboarding can help ensure you’re making a stellar first impression.
One way to measure the “happiness level” of current customers is to research the NPS (net promoter score) of the organization or check to see if there are CSAT (customer satisfaction) tools that are currently measuring the level of satisfaction customers are experiencing with the software. These are key indicators that will tell you if what the company promises to deliver is what its customers are getting. If the software you’re considering has happy customers, your own customers will likely be happy as well, thus leading to a decrease in customer churn and an increase in renewals for your organization.
7. How easy is the system to use?
A customer shouldn’t have to wait for your team members to explain each step in the process. While some steps may require additional training, the more intuitive your system, the more engaged your customer will be. An intuitive platform is easier for the customer to use, helping ease frustrations from previously complicated processes or steps. Empower them with an intuitive process that allows them to move from one step to the next as seamlessly as possible with automated triggers that open up the next task when one task is completed. With this kind of intuitiveness, project managers become guides rather than hand-holders.
Due to the intuitive nature of GUIDEcx, Epion has been able to eliminate an initial client kick-off call with clients instead of spending that time completing assigned onboarding responsibilities on their own. Epion team members can now easily track the customer’s progress and pinpoint roadblocks using the GUIDEcx “self-motivating” time-tracking feature.
GUIDEcx is a game changer as far as project management goes. It “destroys timelines” by eliminating redundancy, delivering consistency, and creating expectations for the team and the client.
—Ann Mooney, Head of Implementation, Epion Health
8. Will I see increased customer and team member engagement due to automated communication and digitized processes?
Engagement occurs when customers and team members understand their responsibilities and know each step of the process. To increase accountability, the right system will include the ability to assign tasks to specific individuals. This high level of transparency gives project managers a clear picture of how the project is progressing. On top of the ability to assign specific tasks, the system should include automated communication triggers that let customers know when a task is complete and start the next step. This keeps customers moving through the process and keeps project managers updated on deadlines, hiccups, and achievements.
With this level of accountability and automation, there is ownership on all levels, and connectivity is increased. How important is customer engagement to project timelines? GUIDEcx sees an average of 90 percent on-time delivery rate when five or more users are invited to the project. The more people engaged in the project and understand their level of responsibility, the more buy-in you achieve, and the more customers complete onboarding. That’s a win for both you and your customers!
Due to its smooth implementation with GUIDEcx, Epion’s client engagement on the platform often begins before the very first client call, helping clients and Epion team members stay on track for deadline completion. This accelerates time to value for the client and Epion itself, including alleviating staff burden.
GUIDEcx is where the work happens. . . . Without GUIDEcx, I would have never been able to keep track of anything at all.
—Ann Mooney, Head of Implementation, Epion Health
9. How scalable is this customer onboarding solution?
The best option for customer onboarding will include the ability to scale at the level with which your organization feels comfortable. If you can start with a basic but robust system and then scale to include more options, you can achieve the best of both worlds.
Questions you might ask when speaking with a rep might include the following:
- Have you worked with companies in the past that needed to scale?
- What aspects or elements of your solutions help companies scale?
Use testimonials or ask for references from companies they’ve helped scale. If they’ve worked with an organization similar in size or needs to yours, they will be better suited to help you scale as well.
Catchafire recognized its manual processes were not optimized for growth. Since the implementation of GUIDEcx, Catchafire has seen a 2–3X increase in its capacity to onboard clients and an increase in its operational efficiency.
When we were thinking about what the future looked like for Catchafire, it really became clear that there was a lot of opportunity to create efficiencies and optimize our onboarding processes. . . . [GUIDEcx] gives us an understanding of how we can continue to build upon and optimize what we are already doing as we continue to grow.
—Emma Schrager, Senior Manager of Implementation and Program Operations, Catchafire
10. Does this solution offer customizable templates for our business model and branding?
You likely have several templates or checklists your team uses for your customer onboarding strategies. Your solution should include the ability to build these templates within the system with all the same branding your team and customers have come to expect. This keeps your process on brand and allows you to control further and customize the customer experience.
With the implementation of GUIDEcx, AgriSync has been able to reassess its processes and create tailored templates for each customer. GUIDEcx’s custom templates have streamlined the client onboarding process by providing the exact capabilities each partner needs. Now, every AgriSync client can go through onboarding more autonomously while still receiving the white-glove service they expect.
Everything is so much easier with GUIDEcx. Originally, it was hard to get in the swing of the different scenarios we had to support with our customers. Now, we have GUIDEcx to work with us on anything we need support with, whether it’s branding or creating a wonderful customer experience.
—Cheri Klussendorf, AgriSnyc
11. How robust is the reporting for analytics within the onboarding platform?
No system should exclude the ability to analyze data collected from onboarding. Look for tools such as a CSAT (customer satisfaction) tool and dashboards to track revenue, project completion, the average time to completion, and how you’re achieving revenue directly related to customer onboarding. These are powerful methods to understand how well the system and your process perform.
As you do your homework, ask to see a sample of a report. Ask what metrics are being measured within those reports. Do those metrics match the KPIs (key performance indicators) you aim for? Be sure to ask if there is additional support or guidance they can provide to help you analyze the results of your reports. Customer success staff or support should be available if you have a question or concern, providing guidance on interpreting the data and suggesting course corrections if needed.
12. Does the onboarding platform include real-time forecasting, allowing me to manage and mitigate risks on the project?
Sometimes things change. Suppose a task takes longer to complete than anticipated, or you need to add another step to the process. In that case, you need the system to update in real time so you can accurately forecast project completion timelines. Real-time updates and forecasting allow you to quickly manage and mitigate any risks that may occur from unexpected changes that arise.
Real-time updates mean that when a project manager adjusts a deadline on one task, the timeline updates automatically, ensuring everyone has the correct information. The ability to track Status Change Reasons allows the project manager to see that a task will be late and the reason why. This helps bring bottlenecks to the surface more quickly, allowing you to pivot and mitigate risks as soon as possible. Because the system is built on transparency, all stakeholders can see exactly what is happening and why.
13. Will I be able to integrate my current tech stack into this onboarding platform in a way that doesn’t disrupt current processes?
If you’re currently working with a system such as Jira, Slack, or HubSpot, you need a solution that can easily integrate into your current process. Before landing on a solution, review the integration options they include or offer.
An experienced platform will offer the most common integration options to keep your system moving forward as smoothly as possible.
14. What kind of support does this platform offer if I have additional questions or need assistance?
A solution is only as powerful as its people; with the right team, you can achieve all your goals and even exceed them. The platform you choose should include an experienced team of individuals who can help guide you through the process, helping you identify solutions that will create an incredible experience for your team and customers alike. By guiding you through a process they understand well, this team should offer ongoing support whenever you need it.
Check to see if the platform offers a chat option to answer your questions quickly. Are the training and support included within the package pricing, or is it an add-on? What type of support is available if you need some help? These are all additional questions to include in your research.
After struggling to adapt to other tools, PathologyWatch was thrilled by the personalized solutions it received from GUIDEcx. The support team led PathologyWatch step by step through the onboarding process and tailored the solutions to its needs. PathologyWatch was amazed at how quickly its onboarding process was implemented.
Working with GUIDEcx is a pleasure. They teach us how to make their services work for us, address our pain points, and walk us through solutions. As someone who doesn’t have much time to implement new tools, I appreciated the move-in ready features GUIDEcx provided.
—April Larson, VP of Client Experience and Advisory Board, PathologyWatch
15. How efficient is the customer onboarding solution?
In order to understand how efficient the solution you are considering is, you’ll need to know how long your current onboarding process is taking. An efficient platform will streamline and automate your process in such a way that you can onboard much more quickly while maintaining the same level of service you’ve always provided. A solution that can decrease your onboarding time significantly will get you and your customers to value more quickly and open up additional capacity for your project managers, giving them more time to onboard more customers, work on additional tasks, or dive deeper into project plans.
With the help of GUIDEcx, MaidCentral was able to streamline, automate, and simplify its onboarding process. This shift to GUIDEcx has resulted in onboarding tasks for clients being cut by 75 percent and the time to value for clients being reduced by 25 percent. Before switching to GUIDEcx, clients took four to eight weeks to get value out of the MaidCentral software. Today, it takes an average of three to six weeks. Having a simple and straightforward onboarding system has helped more of MaidCentral’s clients experience success with MaidCentral’s software earlier.
The efficiency that we see from the GUIDEcx software is incredible, we get so much value out of all of the reporting, tools, cadence of communications, automations, and integrations. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without this software.
—Austin Allen, Partner Implementation Supervisor, MaidCentral
16. How does this product rank among the other options on the market?
Before settling on a solution, learn more about what people say about the platform. Is it easy to use? Has it been recognized for its customer service or platform experience? How do customers rate their experience after using the system? This research can help you better identify the right solution for you and your business. The right onboarding solution will be a leader in its category, with a depth of experience in helping companies like yours succeed.
17. How good is its own onboarding experience?
You are about to select a solution for onboarding your customers. A good indicator to know if this is the right choice for your organization will be the solution’s onboarding experience. Suppose the platform you are considering cannot onboard its customers efficiently with exceptional customer service and continued support. How likely will your customers have a great experience with the software? Start by reading reviews on the organization. Ask deep-dive questions about its onboarding plans, timeline, training, and support.
A solution that has plans and processes already built out will be able to break down your process, audit your system for existing holes, set you up with success-driven templates, define manageable timelines, and guide you through integration, making sure every stakeholder is invited and involved. The solution you choose should set you up for success so that when you’re ready to bring on your own customers, you know they will have a similar, positive experience. Using only spreadsheets to track their customer onboarding process, Maxio’s internal team and customers recognized they were lacking valuable insights and clarity into their overall systems. With the implementation of GUIDEcx, Maxio cut six weeks off customer onboarding times, automated 20 percent of onboarding tasks, and increased customer engagement.
After talking with the [GUIDEcx] sales reps, we immediately knew that this was going to be the solution for us. They have the ability to provide access to our customers. Individual contributors can see the project and the plan. It helps our customers understand what their level of effort is going to be and the timeline of how long the onboarding process is going to take.
—Paul Ventresca, Director of Implementations, Maxio.
Ask Before You Buy
The right onboarding solution can greatly improve the customer experience, improve time to value, and deliver a strong ROI. As you and your organization determine if you’re ready for an onboarding solution, you’ll need to research what solutions exist, how they work, and which system is the right one for your goals. This may take some time, with some consumers spending an average of 79 days gathering information before making a major purchase.
Learning to differentiate between and evaluate customer onboarding solutions will help you choose the right platform for your organization. Like any other large investment, start by doing your homework, asking the right questions, and then selecting the best solution for you.
Before 2017, customer onboarding solutions did not exist. Enter GUIDEcx founder and CEO Peter Ord, who, from his struggles to find a solution to onboarding customers, created its first customer onboarding software, creating the category that exists today. Going far beyond basic project management tools and manual task management, customer onboarding solutions are SaaS tools that can help you do more with less by automating your system, streamlining tasks, creating automated communications, and defining task dependencies specific to onboarding your customers. More robust than systems that merely track timelines, customer onboarding platforms are built so you and your customers can work together toward a successful implementation in a unified platform with full transparency throughout the entire project.
Talk With a Guide Today
Discover how GUIDEcx can help you improve efficiency by reducing your customer onboarding timeline and increasing the capacity of your project managers. Our unparalleled professional resources and unwavering commitment to excellence support our industry-leading customer onboarding solution.