At Propel23, Irit Eizips, Chief Customer Officer and CEO at CSM Practice, shared the secret to designing effective and efficient kickoff meetings that set the stage for a seamless customer onboarding experience.
In this session, Irit spoke about:
This post provides key takeaways from the session.
Misaligned expectations can quickly derail the customer onboarding process. Irit emphasized that these discrepancies often arise from unrealistic expectations set during the sales phase. This expectation mismatch can lead to inadequate resource allocation, resistance to internal changes, and failure to consider compliance and integration challenges at the customer end.
Kickoff meetings offer an opportunity to identify these issues and lay a foundation for building trust with customers.
Irit recommends conducting a pre-kickoff 'welcome' call with key stakeholders prior to the official kickoff call. This preliminary call helps identify all stakeholders relevant to the project, beyond those involved in the buying process.
You can also use this call to communicate the seniority/experience of the team members participating in the kickoff from your end. This will set the right expectations – and ensure that customers also bring the right level of stakeholders from their end to the kickoff.
A welcome (or handover) call with executives on the customer side can help you identify:
As part of your prep for the kickoff call, here are the key areas to focus on:
Your kickoff meeting should cover at least these six key areas: introductions, project overview, roles and responsibilities, communication plans, action items and next steps, Q&A.
Here’s how you can take a customer success-focused approach to each of these areas:
Modify your introductions to dive deeper to understand the roles of all stakeholders in onboarding, their expectations, desired business outcomes, and success indicators for them.
Pro tip: Personalize!
58% of customers say it is crucial that they receive a personalized experience (Source: State of the Connected Customer). Tailor your kickoff agenda, talk track, or slides according to the customer – say by adding their pictures or talking about the company in some way.
Instead of limiting the project overview discussion to the project scope, project plan, Gantt charts, etc., focus on these questions:
During the kickoff, focus on identifying the key contacts and when you can contact them, any potential bandwidth issues, expected response times, approvals, certifications, tests, etc., needed before go-live.
As part of the communication plan, confirm the channels for communication, the key stakeholders to involve, time zones to consider, etc.
Look at the onboarding timeline and beyond. This includes discussing the use case(s) covered during customer onboarding, and then, touching upon post-onboarding use cases.
A discussion on the next steps should cover at least:
Prepare for questions that customers might have. In addition, include questions that you want to ask them.
For instance, the kickoff is a great time to ask customers if they’d be willing to participate in a webinar for other customers, share an online review, or feature in a case study.
Templates for kickoff meetings: CSM Practice’s Resource Library