Mike comes with over 15 years of experience in the world of SaaS and Customer Success. He has worked with some of the largest brands around the globe. Mike is currently the VP of Customer Success at Emburse where he partners with customers to achieve their business objectives through optimal use of solutions.
At Propel23, Mike Sasaki makes the case for setting expectations with customers and your CS counterparts from the get-go. With over 15 years of experience in the world of SaaS and Customer Success, Mike has worked with some of the largest brands around the globe. Mike is currently the VP of Customer Success at Emburse where he partners with customers to achieve their business objectives through optimal use of solutions.
In his session, he talks about:
Mike breaks down the definition for customer onboarding into 4 parts:
Remember: Onboarding is different from implementation. Using them interchangeably will lead to problems. Customer onboarding contains implementations, contact mapping, expectation setting, adoption, training, etc.
Customer journey mapping is cross-functional. It helps you get an idea of the moments or milestones that matter to the customer so you can invest your time and resources wisely. Without a journey map or a holistic view into what’s going on, what you see is different functions, trying to solve their problems in silos.
The more you set expectations, the less uncomfortable it gets over time. Setting expectations is crucial for customer success and taking the position of the lead in the customer relationship.
By establishing clarity, transparency, and trust, you can ensure that you are driving the customer towards their desired outcomes. It is important to be consultative and provide expert guidance, leveraging data and insights from other successful customers.
While customer happiness is important, prioritizing customer success builds trust and loyalty in the long run. Embracing conflict early allows you to gauge customer reactions and address any misunderstandings or gaps. Defining the engagement model and mapping contacts ensures effective communication and avoids single-threaded relationships. Set clear roles and responsibilities internally to drive clarity in external interactions. Overall, setting expectations, fostering transparency, and addressing conflicts proactively help you contribute collectively to customer success.
There are 8 types of expectations that you need to set with customers.
1. What customers have bought and what they expect
Taking the time to go through the details of the product is a huge part of customer onboarding. It might seem like a no-brainer, but it's crucial that you keep up with it and stay on top of things. It's an ongoing process that needs your attention.
2. Billing: Billing start date and expectations
This can change from business to business. More often, customers assume they start paying only when they start using the product. But if the contract states otherwise, it should be made known to the customer. It's important to make sure that customers understand this and remind them multiple times, especially when implementation or onboarding gets delayed. Remind them of their contractual obligations and keep doing so until there's clarity.
3. Implementation timeline: A realistic timeline, and go-live date
Customers tend to expect things to happen very soon. But if it were to take longer than expected, it's best to raise the issue early on, rather than trying to fix it or ignoring it and dealing with it later. It's important to be proactive and bring up any potential issues that could arise, even if it might be uncomfortable. Doing this will help you out in the long run.
4. Resources: Resources required and when
To be super specific, figure out what resources are required from your end and the customer’s for the onboarding. Additionally make a note of when you will need them, and how long you'll need to use them.
5. Adoption: The product adoption ramp timeline
When customers purchase a product, they often have an expectation of how quickly they will be able to use it. However, unless you're just rolling out the product to all your customers at once, there is usually a gradual process of adoption which could mean that the timeline for them using it isn't what they may have anticipated. To avoid this, it's best to set realistic expectations and give users time to get used to using the product.
6. Maintenance: Any post-implementation requirements
Customers might think that once the product is live, there won't be any more work to do, but that's not usually the case.
When it comes to products, ensure that your customers are aware of any activities (upgrades, for example) that may take up their time as well as any development resources they might need after the product has gone live.
It's important to make sure they're prepared to fine tune and optimize how they use the product, so there's no lag in those processes.
7. Operational model: Defining clear roles and responsibilities
This is just like using a RACI chart for your projects. Make sure to communicate and set clear expectations with the customer on what everyone's roles and responsibilities are, and make sure that everyone knows exactly what they have to do.
8. Escalation path: Communication mapping and cadence
Before a situation escalates, map out an appropriate escalation path. This is especially important for customers so they know who to contact if the team isn't showing up to meetings or following best practices. It's also beneficial for you, so you can reach out to the relevant executive and let them know if their team is not meeting expectations and how this could delay their outcomes.
Customer contact mapping is an essential practice to ensure effective communication and avoid strained relationships with customers. It helps you identify and connect with key stakeholders, particularly executives, who may be critical to addressing churn risks or accessing higher levels of decision-making. The onboarding process presents a valuable opportunity to establish these connections.
By mapping contacts, such as executives, administrators, customer success managers, technical resources, and implementation personnel, you can enable comprehensive engagement with the customer. This approach also brings clarity internally, defining roles, responsibilities among counterparts, minimizing overlaps and gaps within the organization. The customer contact map serves as a visual representation of these connections, facilitating discussions during onboarding. If there are any disagreements during contact mapping, shift the focus to finding a common ground to drive clarity and successful collaboration.
So, it’s important to set expectations with customers upfront. Do it proactively and be on the offense instead of on the defense.
When it comes to setting expectations during customer onboarding, it is crucial to review and confirm various aspects such as products, services, timelines, and success criteria during the initial meetings.
Build executive connections and clarify expectations, including cadence and quality. Create a shareable success plan and ensure alignment among all stakeholders.