Nov 10, 2021

Issue #81: Get Your 1:Many Customer Onboarding Right

Chris Hicken, CEO at 'nuffsaid

By Chris Hicken

CEO at 'nuffsaid

We know onboarding is critical: if your customer never fully implements the product, if the end-user isn’t fully trained on how to use it, you limit their ability to get value. That’s why in high-touch segments, we ask CSMs to spend so much time upfront with their customers. 

 

But what of low-touch segments? Oftentimes this group doesn’t get the onboarding attention they deserve. 

 

That’s why this week we interviewed 3 experts to learn how they think about the onboarding process for low-touch customer segments. Here’s what they had to say. 

---

#1 What does your tech-touch onboarding program look like?

MARIE LUNNEY, DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL CS AT CHILI PIPER: 

“Our current process at Chili Piper looks like this: Once someone signs with us, they’re added to the Chili Hub. It’s a customer portal where they log in and are welcomed with a letter, a roadmap of what they’re going to accomplish, and a to-do list. We have videos and articles linked to each step, along with guides on terminology we use at Chili Piper. 

 

“The Chili Hub is a great resource to understand how to navigate our tech. Our SMB, digitally-led customers have to complete the checklist in Chili Hub before they can schedule a kickoff call with an onboarding specialist. After they’ve scheduled that meeting (using Chili Piper), our SMB customers have their kickoff call and the onboarding specialist will work with them the entirety of their onboarding journey. After this first step in the customer lifecycle, when customers have questions, they can schedule a call which will round-robin between our Customer Support Engineers, or they can send in a support ticket.

“We’re also piloting a video option in Chili Hub for customers who want to go faster before the kickoff call. In the future, I see us continuing to use videos and possibly a Learning Management System (LMS) to guide customers through onboarding. We’ll be able to use indicators through product data to track behavior and logins so onboarding specialists can proactively reach out if someone needs additional support. That way, we’ll put the self-service first, but if customers show signs that they’re struggling, we’ll be able to proactively reach out and help.”

 

ELYSSA MILLER, DIRECTOR OF CUSTOMER SUCCESS - DIGITAL AT CREDLY:

“Our tech-touch program currently includes an introductory email from our CSM team outlining the steps a customer needs to take to be successful on the Credly platform. We offer all clients access to our detailed self-paced onboarding course via our LMS that trains clients on the functionality as well as best practices. Clients are also given access to templates and resources via Google drive. The course provides guidance on how to use and leverage those resources. Last but not least, our tech-touch clients have access to our robust support portal, which provides direct 'how-to' guidance and ticketed support.” 

 

SHAREIL NARIMAN, HEAD OF CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AT ARROWS:
“My company, Arrows, is fairly new and we're catered to being a high-touch onboarding tool, but coincidentally, the tool itself acts like tech-touch when needed. I actually use our tool to onboard our customers. A lot of them fit in the high-touch/1:1 onboarding segment but within Arrows itself, we link out to our help center, resources, videos, tutorials, and all of the more scalable versions of what you would consider customer onboarding. 

 

“We coach people to start their tech-touch programs with their high-touch segments. But in the past, I've also used tools like Intercom and Pendo for in-app messaging and different LMS platforms to house webinars and on-demand content. I’ve worked on tracking customer behavior in-app to understand what customers are clicking or not clicking, so that I could train on those things.” 

#2 What lessons have you learned from building out digitally-led onboarding programs? 

ELYSSA MILLER, DIRECTOR OF CUSTOMER SUCCESS - DIGITAL AT CREDLY:

“Initially, we had assumed that all clients would still want some form of human interaction, even if it were just a 1-hour meeting. We learned that there are many clients who want and prefer to be entirely self-sufficient. Once we opened up access to the platform and content directly, we saw a whole group of customers thrive. The lesson learned there was to meet customers where they are rather than assuming they want or need human interaction from us.” 

 

SHAREIL NARIMAN, HEAD OF CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AT ARROWS:

“One thing we’ve learned is that onboarding never ends. That's not to say you shouldn't time box it or have X amount of calls or X amount of check-in points. You should set a goal to have 100% of your customers onboarded, but also realize that not all will learn the same way. The better approach is to offer 100% of your customers the option to get onboarded, but understand the journey will look different. It might look like a mix of 1:1, hands-on, white-glove onboarding with some of those low-touch onboarding techniques like webinars or on-demand content. To truly scale your onboarding, you have to take a strategic approach. 1:1 onboarding can help you understand those initial value moments that you're trying to drive customers towards, which can ultimately inform what value to deliver to your low-touch segment onboarding.” 

 


“When you approach onboarding with a finite timeline, you're trying to jam every single step and feature and talking point into those first 30 days or first number of calls. This inevitably goes over everyone’s head. Instead, understand that onboarding never ends. Focus on the main value drivers for your customers and then over time add in content that drives onboarding forward.” —Shareil Nariman

 

MARIE LUNNEY, DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL CS AT CHILI PIPER:
“Two lessons learned. I knew this coming in, but you have to keep in mind that you really are dependent on data, data sources, and data accuracy. You’re reliant on data because you can’t build out sustainable operations or programs without it. You can’t rely on humans because that goes against the premise of tech-touch programs. So the sooner that you can get Product on board and to see the value in these low-touch initiatives, the sooner you can get the data infrastructure in place to make sure all your systems are connected and stable. Once this happens, doors will open for your digital CS program. 

 

“Lesson #2 came from piloting an onboarding webinar. We told 3 new customers that we wanted to try this with the ideal benefit of being onboarded more quickly. What we found is that they did not like that experience. Their feedback was that the experience needed to be more nuanced. Customers wanted a more dynamic conversation than the format of a webinar would allow. So my advice is that it’s good to pilot things and not go all-in on ideas before you’ve figured out if they will work or not. Also, be open to feedback from your customers.” 

 

“It’s such a balance with 1:many. Of course, companies are doing it to make a profit. But you won’t make a profit if you don’t retain your customers, so you have to provide a great customer experience. And what you think is a great customer experience may not be the truth. You have to tease out where that line is.” —Marie Lunney

#3 Have you used parts of your tech-touch program with other segments? If so, how?

SHAREIL NARIMAN, HEAD OF CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AT ARROWS:

“I think you can take your tech-touch program to any segment because the content should all be focused on helping customers realize value with the product. The changes you may need to make will depend on how specific customers (or users) use the product and what they’d want to learn, and how quickly they want to learn it. I've worked with plenty of huge enterprise customers who don't want to talk to me in their first month: they actually want some on-demand resources and content to go read on their own and then come back and check in with questions, thoughts, or feedback. Offer all the different avenues to your customers and give them the option to learn in their own way, while you learn what is or isn’t working so you can optimize each of those avenues as you go.” 

 

MARIE LUNNEY, DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL CS AT CHILI PIPER: 

“We’re currently setting up our data lake. My goal is to give the same value-driven information to our SMB customers as we provide for our mid-market and enterprise customers in QBRs. We hope to use our data lake to build a system to be able to plug and play customer information to perfectly customize a pdf or presentation. This would be sent from the digital CSM but it would give SMB customers their ROI, their top bookers, their super users, and the catered information that’s hugely important for business. Those are the digital touchpoints I want to incorporate into their customer journey so that they know we care about them and understand their company needs.

“Beyond this being useful for SMB customers, I can see how our Account Managers and CSMs who work with enterprise and mid-market customers would find huge value in this tool because it would save them time. If we can make them more efficient, we can hire less, and do more with fewer people. Honestly, there are few things that we would provide to our SMB customers that we wouldn’t also try to adapt for our larger customers—it would just be an optional or added resource for them.” 

 

ELYSSA MILLER, DIRECTOR OF CUSTOMER SUCCESS - DIGITAL AT CREDLY:

“We initially created a course solely for the purposes of tech-touch clients. However, we expanded our courses to our higher-touch clients so our CSM team could spend less time training on the platform and spend more time having strategic conversations with clients on how to get the most out of their program.”

#4 Anything else you’d add that would be helpful for others building out their tech-touch onboarding process?

SHAREIL NARIMAN, HEAD OF CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AT ARROWS:

“There’s so much content you can create to help 1:many segments get onboarded like help center articles, how-to guides, best practices, blogs, webinars, videos, etc. But I like to think about content in two themes—‘how to’ content and ‘why to’ content. ‘How to’ content is the instructional step-by-step stuff: how to log in, how to set up your account, how to authenticate, and how to set integrations. But the ‘why to’ often gets overlooked which is unfortunate because that content can be really resourceful and scalable in teaching people over time, why they should continue to log in, why they should use this report versus that report, or why they should upgrade to a certain feature in your tool. Each one of those moments in itself becomes an onboarding opportunity.” 

 

“Experiment, experiment, experiment! Just because a process works great for a high-touch client does not mean it will apply directly to a tech-touch client, but the only way to learn is to try new things. Make sure you have ways to measure success or failure, iterate, and continue to learn.” —Elyssa Miller

 

MARIE LUNNEY, DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL CS AT CHILI PIPER:
“I’ve always been a proponent of SMB—maybe it’s because I’ve worked for smaller companies, but those are usually the people that when they buy tech, it’s a big decision for them because they don’t have these massive budgets. Especially for the tech that we provide, by helping their inbound conversion rates and sales and increasing their bottom line, we really want to celebrate that growth with them. I think that’s important to keep in mind when you’re driving 1:many onboarding.” 

 

 

This week's top posts

LEADERSHIP

 

Being Nice and Effective

 

Can one be classified as a nice leader and still be effective? Subbu Allamaraju argues that yes, this is very much possible, and claims that “being nice should not come at the expense of being effective. Likewise, being effective should not require not being nice.” 

 

Read the full post

 

 

 

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

 

How Should CX Be in a Digital-First World?

 

Here’s a quick read with some refreshers on how we should think about the customer experience today, now that most customer interactions are online.

 

Read the full post

 

 

 

CAREER

 

Don’t Worry. You’re Not Wasting Your Mentor’s Time.

 

Ever feel like a burden to your mentor? In this piece, Lara Hogan suggests that you shouldn't: “Your perspective, advice, and gut checks are valuable. Your feedback can open up someone’s eyes to new possibilities. Even just giving someone a space to vent can be a game-changer.” Plus with her Manager 'Voltron' scorecard, Lara offers a nice reminder to try to find different mentors to help with different parts of your life.

 

Read the full post

 

 

 

STRATEGY

 

Why You Need to Think About Renewals Before A Customer Even Signs Up

 

Investor Eugene Lee interviews two experts on the topic of renewals: Sarah Stern, Head of Customer Revenue Operations at Miro, and Sarah Wood, Head of Renewals at Hopin. I enjoyed the clear tactics these two Sarah’s shared on big questions like "When should I start working on renewals and how do I work with the team to collaborate?"

 

Read the full post

 

Rectangle-1

 

Success Happy Hour is a weekly newsletter for Customer Success leaders. Each week we feature one digestible piece of advice or a framework from a top Success leader, along with the best resources from that week. Subscribe here.