5 More Must-Know Metrics for Customer Onboarding


You’re patting yourself on the back as you walk away from what you consider a successful customer onboarding process. “Nailed it,” you say, thinking of the awesome slide deck you implemented, the carefully written script you followed, and the clear set of objectives you completed during the process. “I bet that onboarding process blew the client away!” you exclaim. 

You’re probably wrong if that’s your inner dialogue with yourself. One study found that 90 percent of customers feel organizations could do better with the onboarding process. That leaves a mere 10 percent of your clients feeling satisfied with their onboarding. 

How can the onboarding process be “off” for so many clients, and how do you recognize this dissatisfaction when it happens? It starts with understanding key metrics to measure onboarding success.

Questions to ask about your onboarding process include:

  • “What are we hoping to achieve?”
  • “How do we recognize those results?”
  • “How do we measure those results?”

5 More Must-Know Metrics for Customer Onboarding

Results without analysis mean nothing. Measuring and analyzing results requires a conscious and concerted effort to understand data. Specific onboarding metrics and KPIs (key performance indicators) help you see areas to improve and plan additional success strategies.

What are these important measures of success for onboarding a client? In the article “5 Must-Know Metrics for Your Client Onboarding Strategies,” we introduced five important metrics for measuring success. Here are five additional metrics you can use to measure success in the onboarding process.

1. Customer Retention

In one year, how many clients that you have onboarded will still be a part of your customer base? A study on client turnover within the US found an astounding 84 percent turnover rate for the professional services industry. 

What does it cost to lose a customer? The expense of replacing a client includes costs to productivity, sales, and onboarding time, not to mention the loss in revenue. The churn rate measures this type of turnover and is the opposite of the retention rate.

Retaining customers should be an important goal of organizations looking to improve productivity, lower costs, and maintain or increase revenue. The most crucial time for retention is during the first few weeks: A newly obtained client should never fall through the cracks. These are the most vulnerable customers who are most likely to look elsewhere if unhappy with the product or service they purchased.

To measure the success of retaining new users or customers, use the following formula:

customer retention rate formula

Understanding how well you retain customers will help you identify areas where you can improve. A high rate means you are doing well in retaining customers, while a lower rate indicates something the organization needs to fix. This is an important metric as customer churn costs businesses millions each year.

2. Customer Satisfaction

To retain your current customers, you need to focus on customer satisfaction. With 74 percent of customers saying they will switch brands if they find the purchasing process too difficult, ensuring satisfaction is crucial to a successful onboarding process. 

One of the best ways to measure customer satisfaction is through a net promoter score (NPS). Begin by asking current customers to rate your organization or customer service on a scale from 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest score) on how likely they are to recommend your product or service to a friend looking for something similar. 

Those who select 1 to 6 are considered detractors. Whether or not they actively share this view with others, these may have a negative view of your business. They would likely not speak highly of your offerings if asked their opinion. 

Those who select 7 to 8 are considered passive. They feel neutral about your organization and would neither positively promote nor negatively speak about your business. These individuals can be ignored when determining the net promoter score.

Those who select 9 or 10 are considered promoters and are your most loyal customers. These individuals would actively promote your business and speak highly about your organization when asked.

To measure the satisfaction of current customers, use the following formula:

To understand where your business lies in relation to competitors in the industry, you can compare available NPSs to see how well your business is performing. A high NPS indicates you satisfy the majority of your customers. A lower score means it’s time to make some improvements.

3. Customer Engagement Rate

Eighty percent of people have deleted an app because they didn’t know how to use it. That’s a lot of people giving up on a product because of a lack of training or onboarding. No organization wants a customer to give up on their product or service. One of the best ways to define the success of an onboarding process is to analyze how engaged the clients are with your product. Are they actively engaged? Are they only passively engaged? Or has their engagement dropped off completely, indicating they are no longer using the service?

The engagement rate helps define how many users are actively using your product or service over a defined period of time. To analyze this metric, first, divide customers into groups based on the start date of their onboarding. This could be a specific date, a week, or the month they began the process. Then define what “active” looks like for your product or service; again, is it daily, weekly, or monthly?

To measure the satisfaction of current customers, use the following formula:

Once you’ve begun measuring the engagement rate, you can see which groups are falling behind. A lower rate points to a decrease in engagement. Additional training, updating the customer on products that might better fit their needs, or touching base more frequently to remind the customer of the benefits of your product or service may increase this metric and improve engagement.

4. Customer Time to First Value (TTFV)

Time is money, and the client wants to get value from your product or service. Time to value (TTFV) in the onboarding process is the period of time between the start of the onboarding process and the time at which the customer first experiences the value of the product or service. This value may be intangible and abstract (such as “Now I get it!”), or it might be quantifiable (such as “I made 20 more sales today after using this service”).

To understand this metric, you must first identify what “value” means to the customer. Start with why your customers came to your organization in the first place. What are they hoping to achieve by using your product or service? Is it a sales goal? Is it ease of use? Is it streamlining a system? These are value adds your organization is helping them to achieve. When they achieve that value, you will use it to calculate TTFV.

To measure TTFV, use the following formula:

time to first value formula

If you have established a strong relationship with the client, understanding when they first achieved value will be part of the ongoing conversation. The smaller this number, the more quickly your clients are getting to value. A higher number means you may need to re-evaluate the steps in your process. Can you get the client to value more quickly? Look for ways to improve that number.

reducing your customers time to first value (ttfv) to boost customer experience. read now

5. Net Revenue Retention (NRR)

While the client has a goal of adding or achieving value, ultimately, you have a goal to increase revenue. One way to measure the success of the onboarding process is to track revenue growth that can be linked directly to onboarding. Remember, onboarding aims to establish a long-term relationship with the client. This includes helping them understand your specific products and services that could benefit their business. During the onboarding process, an effective client onboarding will be able to identify and suggest upgrades, new products, or additional services for each client.

You can use the net revenue retention (NRR) formula to understand how these conversations and conversions affect revenue. This formula allows you to see the relationship between growth in your customer base and the effects of upsells and cross-sells. It can also define revenue that would potentially be lost if new customers are not onboarded.

The NRR calculation is a bit more complex but clearly shows how revenue and retention work together. Begin by dividing customers into onboarding groups, then use the following formula to calculate NRR:

MRR: Monthly recurring revenue

Business Expansion Revenue: Increase in revenue due to upselling or cross-selling

Canceled MRR: Customer canceled the sale altogether

Downgraded MRR: Customer downgraded the service plan and is paying you less than before

When this number is high, it means that you are generating more revenue due to retaining a higher number of customers. A lower number indicates how much revenue is affected by customers lost. The overall goal here is to help the customer add value. Revenue is a natural outcome of a trust-based relationship with a client who looks to you to provide solutions.

Onboarding Best Practices

As you implement these key success measurements into the onboarding process, make sure that you are using some of these best practices:

  • Set goals: Goals should include specific definitions for each metric, be measurable (see the formulas listed above), achievable, relevant, and completed in a timely fashion. Time tracking is key to ensuring your resources for these goals are effectively used.
  • Understand the difference between implementation and onboarding: While “onboarding” is more commonly used when working with smaller companies, “implementation” typically refers to rolling out a new system for a large enterprise. Understanding where your business fits will help you define and set up your onboarding system.
  • Build trust: One of the most important things to remember is that you are building a long-term relationship with the client. Your ultimate goal is to help them achieve success. Building trust through empathetic listening and working together will help your onboarding process go more smoothly.
Graphic promoting a blog, "5 Best Practices for Superior Client Onboarding."

Understanding what metrics to use in measuring the success of your onboarding process will help you determine vulnerable clients, increase engagement, improve retention, and lead to improved customer satisfaction. Onboarding software will help you streamline your process and analyze this data. Take the guesswork out of data analysis by using these powerful onboarding metrics. 

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