A Guide on Reducing Churn During SaaS Client Onboarding: Customer Success Managers

By Belle Ferro
Feb 11, 2022

Whether you’re a B2B enterprise corporation or a mid-market company, SaaS client onboarding is an essential part of your business. At some point as you scale, you realize a spreadsheet-driven process isn’t going to be enough. Not only that, but basic project management tools aren’t enough. This is when you need a client onboarding software and a customer success manager to provide professional input.


We’re going to go over:

  • Why SaaS client onboarding?
  • What do customer success managers do?
  • The difference between having a CSM for onboarding and not having one.
  • How they help you reduce churn.
      • Customize and build
      • Real-time education during projects
      • Onboarding metrics for your company
      • Goal analysis and reporting


Why SaaS Client Onboarding?


Research shows that retaining a client is more cost-efficient than attaining a new one. That’s why the first 90 days of a customer relationship are the most important. This phase of the relationship is where the customer onboarding happens. So, it’s important to make a good impression, be efficient, and be helpful. 


Many companies invest in client onboarding tools to:

  1. Have a workspace where clients and internal team members can interact together and keep documents and important information in one place
  2. Have a solution that’s customer-facing, you can control what your customers see and whitelabel your brand over the software so it looks like it’s yours
  3. Use automation and onboarding templates to save time
  4. Compare onboarding projects to see what’s driving revenue forward, which products or industries are doing better/need improvement, and pull reports
  5. Allocate for time and resources more accurately so team members aren’t being over- or under-utilized
  6. And many more reasons!



What Do Customer Success Managers Do?


Being an onboarding project manager is a complex, evolving role. A project manager’s efficiency in moving a project through to completion will determine your company’s ability to recognize revenue and achieve critical targets. We understand the pressure customer onboarding leaders are under to build processes, methodology, and a strong customer experience with your brand. 

Because the No. 1 cause of churn is a failed onboarding experience and it’s the goal of onboarding customer success managers to help your customers adopt your platform, buy more from you, and renew their contracts year after year. At GUIDEcx, once you’ve completed your onboarding experience with our team, you’re assigned a customer success manager. 

Customer success managers for client onboarding do the following: 

  • Guide your evolving workflow and journey
  • Engage to remove boulders from your success path
  • Strategize to drive project efficiency and customer engagement
  • Monitor your adoption and achievements


Your business is growing and adapting every day based on your customers and competitors. As your business evolves, your customer success manager will be right beside you to consult with you.




The Difference Between Having a CSM for Onboarding and Not Having One


So what’s the difference between having a customer success manager help you with your SaaS client onboarding process compared to doing it on your own?

We’re in an age where people want to do things on their own. They want to figure it out themselves! And while that’s beneficial in many ways, there are some things that can require additional guidance. 

Customer success managers can not only help you map out your onboarding process, but they can help you throughout the entire onboarding process. Here are the things an onboarding customer success manager can do that you can’t get by in a DIY model:

  1. Customize and help you build your onboarding templates/onboarding processes
  2. Provide advice and education during live onboarding projects, guiding you on your specific customers, industry, etc.
  3. Provide what onboarding metrics you should be measuring for your company, how to measure them, and how to use them elsewhere. 
  4. Help you identify if goals were met, if they’ve changed, and how you can report on the onboarding process to others.


Basically, they help you better streamline your SaaS client onboarding process by addressing your company’s specific onboarding needs. Here’s why the process needs to be streamlined: reduce churn, increase retention, prevent burnout, and more



Customize and Build


Customize and help you build your onboarding templates/onboarding processes.

Every customer you work with is different and every day that goes by, your organization is adjusting to the market to sell more, support more, and deliver on your promises. 


Why Onboarding Templates are Important

Onboarding templates are important for your business because they’re your client onboarding process. They’re important because they help you…

  • Identify bottlenecks 
  • Establish goals
  • Differentiate onboarding processes for different products, industries, etc.


What Onboarding Templates Do

Your onboarding templates are a living and breathing extension of these daily adjustments your organization is making. They should:

  • Give your team and your customers a guide with clear expectations
  • Reflect your marketing and service
  • Support your sales motion
  • Drive automation and efficiency for your onboarding team.


Customer success managers consult with you on best practices to make sure your onboarding project templates are current and structured to achieve your goals. 

During a template audit, a customer success manager conducts a survey to understand your needs, analyzes your template with data, and guides you through the process of molding your template to your current needs. While a checklist is usually the manual process for this, every company and its onboarding process is different. Having a professional assess your company’s needs and goals will yield better results.

A template audit can be accomplished on a call, or it could take a series of calls and working sessions. The commitment your customer success manager has to you and this process is to match the investment of time you and your team put into it.


We have seen customers who invest in this process… 

  • Increase their efficiency by 20%, 
  • Reduce their implementation time by 49%, 
  • Decrease their client facing meeting length up to 86%. 
  • Increase in project manager capacity by 4x 
  • And much more than they could’ve done by themselves.





Real-time Education During Live Projects


Provide advice and education during live onboarding projects, guiding you on your specific customers, industry, etc.

Even after crafting the perfect template for your customers and project manager, if it’s not used how it was intended, it will not reap the benefits you were expecting.

Through working with hundreds of customers and thousands of projects, experience has shown that when a product is purchased, there is generally a gap between how it’s used and why it was purchased. 

This happens for a variety of reasons: 

  • Company culture
  • The members of your team
  • Or even your customers


After you have worked with your customer success manager to optimize your templates in GUIDEcx, now it’s time for them to engage with project managers on your team during real-life projects and help remove the boulders from your success path. 

There is no better opportunity to learn than during the real-life application. Your customer success manager follows the project through all while highlighting areas of opportunity to leverage the platform in the ways you intended it to be used when you purchased the software.

We have found this one-on-one experience to be of significant value for customers who look to get the most value out of their purchase. You don’t have time to watch over each project with a critical eye and with solutions that a professional has, and that’s where a customer success manager can help you the most. 

So not only do customer success managers help you build your client onboarding templates, they help you during the real-life application of these processes to help you adjust, give advice, and provide onboarding solutions that benefit the pros. 



Onboarding Metrics for Your Company


Provide what onboarding metrics you should be measuring for your company, how to measure them, and how to use them elsewhere.

Customer success managers who help with client onboarding can help you learn how to measure metrics throughout the phases of the onboarding process. 

The three phases of the onboarding process are:

  1. Initial phase: this measures trial conversion and new customer adoption rates. 
  2. Mid phase: this measures the customer response rate.
  3. Final phase: this measures onboarding completion and churn rates.


Why Should You Care About These Stats?


  • If you can predict the completion of a project time, you can see what projects can bring your onboarding revenue forward
  • You can compare industries, products, etc. to see which are doing better than others.
  • You can better identify bottlenecks, reduce them, and speed up your implementation process!


For Example:

Measuring metrics in the initial phase:

Let’s take our good friend Joe for example. If Joe is beginning the onboarding process with one of his customers, the first thing he will want to measure is how many free trials actually proceeded with the onboarding process. 

A customer success manager can not only teach Joe how to do this regularly, but they can also analyze Joe’s company metrics and onboarding statistics to identify where gaps are in the process. The customer success manager can show Joe how to identify these gaps and provide solutions to solving them. 

If, through further analysis, Joe has a low trial conversion rate, the customer success manager can identify other things he may want to measure to uncover where this problem originates. 

This is a situation where customer success managers have a level up compared to learning how to perfect the onboarding process yourself. Although Joe might figure it out eventually, a customer success manager would help Joe much faster. 


must-know onboarding metrics for client onboarding strategies infographic 2021

Goal Analysis and Reporting


Customer success managers help you identify if goals were met, if they’ve changed, and how you can report on the onboarding process to others.

This section somewhat relates to measuring onboarding metrics, but the difference is this: the bigger picture. 

When analyzing goals before the onboarding education, customer success managers listen to your experience, your goals and needs, and plan with you. They strive to understand what is happening in your segment of the market and how your project delivery strategy is evolving.

Using a professional and high-grade onboarding reporting system can reflect the results of these goals. At GUIDEcx, our customer success managers use our Navigator reporting engine to review data that highlights your strengths and areas of opportunity with our platform. They can measure these onboarding metrics, set goals, and our customer success managers help people like Joe every step of the way (if Joe wants). 


Customer success managers have one major goal: to help customers succeed with the platform. Whether that’s with their company or not, customer success managers want to point you in the right direction regardless. 

86% of people say they’d be more likely to stay loyal to a business that invests in onboarding content that welcomes and educates them after they’ve bought. When you know how to use that onboarding tool to its fullest capacity (and the right onboarding tool that suits your company), the results can be beyond expectations. And a customer success manager can help you get there faster and more efficiently.


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