You only get one chance to make a first impression. And when it comes to customer onboarding, that first impression lasts a customer lifetime: 85% of executives agree that long-term customer loyalty hinges on a great customer onboarding experience.
What makes a great customer onboarding experience? Among other things, it’s helping the customer realize value from working with you fast. In other words, a short Time to Value (TTV). TTV is the period between the customer kickoff and the moment they start seeing the benefits of your product or service. A short TTV leads to a domino effect of trust, satisfaction, and, as we said above, long-term loyalty and retention.
The product and onboarding experience you prepare for customers has a lot of bearing on the length of your TTV. But improving TTV doesn’t fall solely on the shoulders of the SaaS company — it’s a responsibility shared with the customer. Customers who drag their feet undermine a company’s ability to prove value, so here are a few tips to help you motivate your customers to make the most of their onboarding process and get value fast.
Assign an onboarding concierge to high-value customers
An onboarding concierge, much like the concierge at a hotel, provides personalized, high-touch support to customers. They do this by engaging with the customer directly to provide the knowledge, direction, and encouragement they need to shorten TTV.
As you know, every customer that comes to your company has unique goals and needs. They might have a thousand projects to tackle and tons of new tool features to use for the first time, which could lead to paralysis. Where do they start? Adding a concierge onboarding manager to your team provides value by guiding new customers through their first months, pointing out essential features and fielding any questions.
Automated messaging platform Customer.io found their conversion rate to paid doubled after implementing a concierge onboarding experience. They tested their new service with a sample of 400 new users. Of these new users, half received an email offering concierge assistance to get started, the other half did not. They found that customers who received an offer for specialized assistance were twice as likely to be paying customers than those who didn’t receive the offer.
Set clear goals collaboratively (to put customers on the hook)
Time to Value, like value throughout the entire SaaS/customer partnership, boils down to helping customers meet their goals. An essential (and often rushed) first step is to establish and stay aligned on what those goals actually are. That’s why some companies now adopt collaborative goal-setting strategies. Collaborative goals demonstrate that your company understands the customer’s needs while also making the customer accountable and keeps those goals in clear view for both parties.
One of the most common challenges we hear from customer success teams is that their customers aren’t transparent enough with their goals, making it difficult to understand and, thus, achieve these important milestones. Collaborative goal setting allows customer success teams and their customers to become true partners. They proactively coach customers through using the product, including assigning specific tasks, reminding customers about best practices, and shepherding them toward achieved goals (which is essential to shortening TTV).
Send behavioral emails with newly onboarded customers
A behavioral email is an automated, targeted method of communication that is sent to customers based on their actions and, you guessed it, behaviors. They decrease TTV by guiding customers along their onboarding journey with useful information related to their unique position in the customer journey broken down into digestible pieces. This allows customers to obtain useful, relevant information without feeling overwhelmed by all of your company’s offerings at once.
One of the most important behaviors to identify and develop emails for is inactivity. If the customer goes quiet for a few days during onboarding, that’s a clear indication that they need prompting to continue along their journey. Stepping in will decrease the customer’s TTV and could help reduce churn down the line. In this instance, sending an email with clear and actionable steps for moving forward will shorten their onboarding time and help them move into the value stage even faster.
Collect qualitative and behavioral data to identify obstacles in the user experience
Inevitably, customers will experience pain points with their onboarding. Documenting feedback throughout all stages of the process is key to understanding customers’ core issues and helps identify ways to decrease TTV.
A people-driven, qualitative approach is exactly how internal communications tool Slack became the leader it is today. When Stewart Butterfield speaks of Slack’s lightning-fast success, he quickly points out that the tool became significantly more useful once they “begged and cajoled our friends at other companies to try it out and give us feedback.” They discovered that most users feel the value of their product once they’ve sent 2,000 messages between their team. It also allowed them to note emerging patterns of pain points that needed to be resolved in order to maintain their low TTV.
Word-of-mouth is always more useful when it’s backed by data. In addition to qualitative, personal feedback from customers, it’s always a good idea to leverage tools like Google Analytics in order to pinpoint specific moments of friction throughout the user’s experience. Tracking their journey to understand how they use your product or service can be invaluable to your company and may uncover areas of your onboarding that require more attention.
A great Time to Value requires continuously adapting your onboarding process
To quote Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
If you want to shorten your TTV, prepare to continuously adapt your process in order to eliminate any major pain points your customers may be experiencing. Unfortunately, customer churn is an inevitable part of any business. But building a relationship with customers based on their unique goals, taking their feedback into serious consideration, and adopting an agile mindset when it comes to your onboarding process can help you meet the needs of your customer base and ultimately reduce churn.
Coordinate’s client-first project management solution helps you work collaboratively with your customers, helping you keep their needs in focus.