Keeping customers accountable and engaged during onboarding

Donna Weber, customer onboarding expert, shares best practices on how to drive customer engagement by building trust, delivering value early
March 8, 2023
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Krishna Kumar

Early this month, customer onboarding expert Donna Weber joined us to share insights and best practices for keeping customers accountable and engaged through onboarding and beyond. 

The author of the award-winning book, Onboarding Matters, helps high-growth companies transform customers into loyal champions. She has helped hundreds of companies scale customer success, decrease the time to first value, and maximize customer lifetime value.

In the session, Donna talked about how we can:

  1. Build trust with customers and set clear expectations
  2. Use success plans to guarantee customer engagement 
  3. Deliver value as quickly as possible
  4. Improve transparency, visibility, and accountability during customer onboarding

Here are key takeaways from the session.

1. Trust: The antidote to ghosting  

Human brains are wired to resist change. People default to fear and doubt when exposed to new things. We need to remember to look at customers as people first. 

When you think about the neuroscience of customer onboarding, you can expect customers to experience or exhibit:

  1. Buyer’s remorse (second-guessing their buying decision)
  2. Prospection (thinking about the future and, often, about worst-case scenarios)
  3. Confirmation bias (letting their initial unpleasant experience color their future perception) 

You must gain your customers’ trust and help them see the path ahead.

2. Four ways to build trust with customers 

  1. Ensure cognitive closure: Provide clear endings and beginnings at each stage of the customer journey. Examples include an automated welcome email as soon as the deal closes, a welcome message when users first log in to the product, etc.
  2. Start with the familiar: Build a bridge between the familiar and the new. For example, if your product is an analytics/finance tool and your customers currently use spreadsheets, explain your product in terms of their spreadsheets’ functionality and how they can use your solution to do what the spreadsheet does.
  3. Use visuals: Most people process visuals faster than words. Leverage it to present a clear picture of the journey ahead. 
  4. Connect with customers on a personal level:  It’s the best way to build familiarity, minimize fear/doubt, and get them to start trusting you. Invest time in building personal connections with individuals on the customer side.

3. Breaking down monolithic deployment and prioritizing quick wins

On average, most customer onboarding journeys take 90 to 120 days. 

When customers don’t see the return on investment that the sales teams promised, it’s they feel disillusioned–not the best way to start a new relationship. 

You need to deliver value as quickly as possible so customers feel seen and heard. Here are a few ways to do that.  

A. Create a value drip instead of waiting for everyone to go live with the product. A few ways to do this include:

  1. Breaking the go-live down into phases
  2. Starting with an initial use case and building from there
  3. Prioritizing unique personas to start onboarding with

B. Commemorate small wins along the journey.

C. If you’re unable to get customers to product usage early, focus on enablement– mindsets, concepts, context, etc. to help customers transition to a new way of working. For example, a marketing company that takes 45-60 days to go live could provide value via strategic consulting or an exclusive community at the start of the client onboarding journey.

TL;DR: Think about delivering value as quickly as possible–even if it’s not directly via your product/solution.

4. Success plans to build accountability in customer onboarding 

A success plan captures the goals, outcomes, and objectives of the customer onboarding journey–while also defining how exactly you and the customer will work together.

The key is to involve the whole team, and not just the buyer, to capture risks, challenges, and blockers (holidays, internal organizational issues, bandwidth, existing projects, etc.) that could impact the customer onboarding journey. 

Check out Donna’s Orchestrated Onboarding Success Plan Template

5. The importance of visibility, transparency, and accountability in customer onboarding

Today, consumer purchases are designed to keep people updated at every stage of their journey, from buying to shipping to adoption.

Your customers expect this transparency and accountability when they do business with you. 

Leverage technology to ensure visibility and transparency in your customer onboarding journey and drive customers to value.

As a purpose-built customer onboarding platform, Rocketlane is designed to help you prioritize transparency, visibility, and accountability for your customers. 

Check out these customer stories to see what this looks like in action.

  1. How parcelLab uses Rocketlane to drive customer engagement during onboarding
  2. How Rocketlane is helping GoCardless accelerate time-to-value for their customers by 20%
If you aren’t already using a tool for customer onboarding, why don’t you take Rocketlane for a spin?

6. Customer onboarding resources, recommendations, updates

  1. Tools to map customer onboarding sessions: Xmind, Visio 
  2. Donna’s latest offering: Customer Onboarding Health Check
  3. Propel23, the world's only customer onboarding conference, will be back on April 18-19 this year. Engage with customer onboarding, implementation, and PS leaders at this mega, two-day virtual event. Save your spot for FREE today.

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Usha Kalva
Community & Partnerships @ Rocketlane

Usha is a Community Manager at Preflight. She's been an EIR, runs a successful restaurant, and is inclined toward the social sciences. In a parallel universe, she'd have been a wildlife photographer.

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