Leveraging customer intelligence for onboarding success

The way forward is data driven. Learn how leveraging customer intelligence can help with onboarding success.
March 21, 2022
No items found.

Mary Poppen, the Chief Strategy and Customer Officer of, delivered an insightful session at Propel22 on leveraging customer intelligence for customer onboarding success.

What is Customer Intelligence?

Customer intelligence is leveraging everything you can. 

  1. It's the data that you have about your customers.
  2. The way that you work with them every day
  3. The sentiment that you have to bring into a holistic picture and be able to take the right action at the right time for your customers
  4. To be proactive and ultimately predict what they're going to need and to be able to get ahead of it. 

The data-first growth economy is the new way of doing business. Mary began the session by emphasizing the need to discover what data is critical, peel back the onion, and understand what each of your customers needs at every stage of the customer journey is something everyone needs to work on. This new way of business does not just benefit customer success or support or onboarding teams. It's everybody who reaps the benefits! The strategy of the company, the product innovation, and the way you deliver are hugely impacted, and so are your customers and future customers. And that's why it's super important to think about how we can leverage data.

The history - a peek into where we've been and where we're headed

In the 1970s, all software was on-premise. Customers were left to build the house on their own. They didn't have a lot of onboarding help, so they purchased the solution. And that was kind of it. They had to run with it themselves. 

In the 1990s, the rise of SaaS led to the ability to start and implement services for customers. And this meant you could leverage best practices and onboard them so that your solution would bring more value. 

In the 2000s, there was more focus on measuring customers' experience to make it better. 

And that leads us to the present, where technology has advanced to a point where one can now leverage customer intelligence, not just to deliver a seamless customer journey or experience; you can even opt for a more personalized one at scale. 

Mary pointed out that companies focused on data are becoming very disruptive in the market. She explains that, with visibility being used to create unique offerings and opportunities for customers with personalized experiences, it is becoming popular in the market and is the disruptor right now. And companies that have been using a more data-driven approach by leveraging customer intelligence are seeing a much greater return on their net revenue retention too. 

Your CFOs are thus justified in targeting specific data and data analysis, and working on leveraging the data you've been collecting on your customers for years. It creates a great customer experience,  you can grow the business. 

And finally, your customers become your growth engine, which is exciting. So when customers are onboarded effectively, they will want to stay with you, and that revenue will only expand and grow.

The new world is data-driven


What's the common thread? In a bit of the old world, CSMs had difficulty knowing what account managers were doing. They didn't necessarily have visibility into all of the support issues for customers. We tended to be very reactive, and customer health was very gut-driven. Assumptions had to be made, and there was minimal opportunity to identify risk. 

But today, with data, we can have that visibility across roles and functions. Therefore, the best place to start is by having greater visibility into how customers are resonating with the value proposition of your product or service. 


How does value realization occur for customers? 

Value realization allows you to be more proactive; it allows you to identify risks and opportunities for growth. To get ahead of it, you don't have to wait for the renewal to expand the relationship with the customer, for there may be far greater times to do that, where the customer could get greater value from you. And this is where data comes in handy. Data helps you uncover opportunities and jump in sooner to provide more value; either through additional products or services or to connect them with other customers to get you best practices guidance.


Data also helps you in being prescriptive. It allows you to look at the onboarding process and identify areas where we could be more effective, be more scaled internally, and create a seamless experience for customers to set them up on the right path faster.


Customers come in contact with many people during their onboarding journey. Sales, CSMs, onboarding specialists, consulting teams, and plenty others require the data and the visibility to avoid duplication of efforts and deliver a much more seamless experience to the customer.

How can customer intelligence address key issues?

Five key onboarding challenges might be common to every organization. But the analysis and outcomes of each issue are unique to every organization. It may or may not apply to your company. But the goal is to get you thinking about what kinds of data you could be looking at to improve your customers' onboarding experience.

Issue #1: You don't know when customers are struggling to adapt

Some of the analyses that you could take a look at are:

  1. Product adoption increased post-onboarding across 30/60/90 days. With customers who have a solid onboarding experience, you expect to see greater adoption over time. 
  2. Layer on training, content consumed, and the number of meetings the CSM has with the customer per week, and then correlate with onboarding customer satisfaction scores.

Ultimately, you will be able to look at ways to scale the delivery better across all customers.

Issue #2: Are customers receiving sufficient training? 

Analyses to think about here are:

  1. Training content topics and product adoptions six months post-launch - analyze the type of training they're getting and whether that impacts adoption. 
  2. Training certification completion by-product and expansion opportunities for the customer
  3. Training customer satisfaction and overall partnership NPS

Issue #3: Onboarding takes too long

For this particular issue, the first time to value is super important. And we always think the faster the first time to value, the better. But it may not necessarily be the case. Some analyses to consider for this are:

  1. First time to value and customer churn
  2. Feature adoption and expansion opportunities
  3. Deployment resources consumed that accelerate go-live timing.

Issue #4: Goals for success are unclear

Analyses that can be considered include:

  1. Referral customers, first time to value and product adoption in the first 30 days post-launch.
  2. Correlate formal handoff from sales to CS and renewals. 
  3. Review goals and success criteria in the kickoff and first time to value. 

Try and pinpoint where in the onboarding journey you could focus and help track post-implementation. And one interesting finding is that renewals become highly likely when a live handoff occurs from sales to CS. The first time to value is also six times longer when goals and success criteria are not reviewed during the kickoff. During the kickoff, you should be focused on the goals and align on what success criteria look like.

Issue #5: Too many roadblocks and silos in the deployment process

It makes it hard for the customers when they're siloed in the deployment process. Some of the analyses that can be considered here include:

  1. Reduce the number of handoffs between teams from contract signature to product go-live. 
  2. Look into how many internal resources are engaged during the onboarding process and track CSAT post-launch to build a more seamless process for the customer.
  3. Consider how self-service, high-touch onboarding, and revenue expansion opportunities function.

Key metrics for onboarding success

Here’s a list of the metrics that you should think about foundationally as you're collecting information on your customers and data across the onboarding journey are:

a. Time to value. Have an agreed description of what first time to value and additional time to value means so that you can measure it appropriately. Also, ensure everyone's on the same page. 

b. Training/enablement: Outline the training and enablement resources being leveraged during the onboarding process.

c. Adoption: Assess the quality through customer satisfaction and adoption of the materials, and be able to track that. 

d. CSAT: Look at adoption post-launch in the 30/60/90 days and then add additional intervals. So, you can see the trends over time in which customers are more successful with adoption over time versus others. This can help you to really dig into the drivers and improve customer satisfaction as well.

More resources from industry leaders and experts

  1. Propel22 recordings
  2. Implementation Stories
  3. Preflight Conversations
  4. The Launch Station - a podcast for all things customer onboarding
  5. Customer onboarding resources from Rocketlane

Industry insights you won’t delete. Delivered to your inbox weekly.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Shuvedha Subramaniam
Content Marketer @ Rocketlane

Marketing analyst @ Rocketlane. An Advocate by choice and a penwoman for the love of it. When the world zips, I like to zoink. Also, being happy by being kind.

You might also like...
Here are some other posts from us you may enjoy reading
Why customer onboarding is tough - war room stories
Jeff tells us why we feel onboarding is challenging and how it can be made simple.
Handling critical moments in the customer journey
The science behind customer experiences and how you can leverage it to increase renewals and expansions
Strategies for effective go-lives and solution adoption
Onboarding is more than just checklists and project management

Move your service delivery into the fast lane

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.