Your sales team has closed the deal and landed a new customer. Congratulations! Now it’s time for you and your customer success team to shine. But just delivering the product or service your new client bought isn’t enough. Even if your customers get what they paid for, a poor onboarding experience could keep them from coming back. If they share that unpleasant experience with their peers, it could cost you future business too.
To keep the customers you have and attract new ones, you need to deliver an exceptional new client experience. You already have a great product. Here are 3 things customer success managers can change to improve client onboarding experiences and nurture long-term customer relationships.
1. Get Everyone on the Same Page and Keep Them There
There’s nothing worse than not understanding an implementation. Raise your hand if you’ve felt left out of what’s happening. We’ve all been through it. Visibility and transparency are key to getting everyone on the same page and making sure they are informed with what’s going on.
Your first step is looping in and inviting all the key points of contact to the project. Projects with more people (and the right people) involved have a better chance of completing on time and with ease. Besides your customer success team, consider adding your sales team to the project. They have a vested interest in making sure what they sold is delivered successfully. They can also provide valuable insight into your new customer and what they are looking for. Including a technical expert will help you respond faster to issues that might come up during the implementation.
On the customer side, you should include the onboarding team and end users. But also include the people responsible for purchasing the product and even any third-party vendors. You want to make sure that everyone has an understanding of the new product or service.
Now that you have all the right people at the table, the next step is transparent communication so no one gets left out. Everyone on your project should be able to see the status and get updates whenever and however they want. This can be through a portal, via email, or through a mobile app. If customers have the option to access the project in the way they prefer, engagement and retention will increase.
This kind of transparency means no one is accidentally left off a meeting invite, deleted from an email chain, or kept out of an important conversation. When the right people know what’s going on, work gets done faster and better. Confusion and miscommunications will be eliminated and overall customer satisfaction with your product and process will increase.
2. Explain Dependencies and Identify Risks
Your clients might not understand exactly how tasks impact each other. You should take the time to outline your project timeline and milestones. Then, you can identify what tasks can’t be started until the previous tasks are completed. When one task relies on another, we call these “dependencies”. If these are identified (color coding, underlining, bolding, etc.), you can also organize your emails/reminders that rely on the dependencies.
We also recommend creating dependencies for different tiers of the project. This is especially useful for larger projects with multiple steps in different buckets. Once you complete a milestone, you can easily see the next phase of your onboarding process. This keeps everything clean and organized.
This next step is important: Work together with your customer to identify risks. For example, key team members going on vacation. When you identify these, you can set realistic expectations about how that might change the delivery timeline. Always give yourself extra room. If something does change the anticipated completion date of a task, don’t forget to update the dependent timelines and delivery dates.
3. Automate Repeatable Tasks
Manual processes create unnecessary work and slow you down. These can include drafting emails, updating spreadsheets, and making endless follow-up phone calls. A long implementation process means customers wait longer before they can use your product or service. If they wait too long, they might just leave and never come back.
Manual onboarding processes also make it difficult for you to take on more customers and tackle more complex implementations. Let’s say you have a team of 5 people who can each onboard 10 clients a month. That’s fine until your sales team has a banner month––suddenly you have 100 clients to onboard instead of 50.
If you and your team are doing great with manual processes and want to stick with it, we are in full support. If it ever feels like things could slip through the cracks, it might be time for a client onboarding solution. Here’s G2’s list of top client onboarding softwares. With some of them, you can also turn your implementation plan into a template, making it the ultimate repeatable process. This saves a lot of time while still giving you the flexibility to customize the plan for each client.
A software can automate these processes, so you can shorten and improve your client onboarding. If you can cut 10 days off your onboarding timeline, each customer success team member can onboard more clients each month. And they’re getting your customers to value faster too. It’s a win-win.
If you want to learn more about how you can improve your client onboarding process, check out our best client onboarding practices.
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