Starting the renewal at “Hello”: Emilia D'Anzica for Propel22

If you're not onboarding customers right within their first 100 days, then there's no way you can expect them to be repeat customers.
March 23, 2022
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Emilia D'Anzica, Managing Director at Growth Molecules, shared her thoughts and insights on how we should start thinking about renewals even before meeting the customer. 

She spoke about:

  1. How to start renewals early
  2. The difference between onboarding and implementation
  3. Why first impressions are important
  4. The key elements to knowing a customer
  5. The S.C.O.R.E.D. Methodology
  6. The four tips to get started

Emilia began by underlining how vital Customer Success has become ever since the birth of SaaS and the introduction of perpetual licensing as a concept.

Repeat customers spend more than 33% on average when compared to existing ones. So if you're not onboarding new customers the right way within the first 100 days, then there's no way you can expect them to be repeat customers. This means you won't be able to sell more of your different products, upsell, cross-sell, and renew. 

If your company is trying to raise more money or go public, you should know that companies with even just a 10% increase in customer retention get valued roughly 30% higher. 

This is why investing in onboarding and having a solid start becomes crucial. 

Onboarding is NOT implementation

"If you treat your onboarding as implementation, you're going to start things off on the wrong foot because you'll be so focused on your product and yourself that you forget to focus on the relationship you're building with a new customer."

The relationships you are building will lead to more trust with your product as you expand your offerings and turn your customers into advocates. So when they go work at another company, those relationships are what will keep bringing them back to your product. 

Implementation is crucial, but understanding your customer's challenges and making sure you have a good rapport with them takes precedence initially.  

Emilia urges onboarding teams to take a step back before beginning to map their technical journeys with customers and to look at the bigger picture instead. 

Relationship building -> Implementation -> Adoption. This is what leads to growth.

The importance of first impressions

Your customers already have an idea of how their onboarding experience with the product will go based on their interaction with your sales and marketing teams. 

"In psychology, prospection is the generation and evaluation of mental representations of possible futures. Because of the technical challenges I had before I started my presentation, you may remember only the negative parts about that experience, and might something similar throughout my presentation. Your customers have a similar thought process."

That first impression will validate every subsequent interaction you have with your client. So if you're only talking about your company and product instead of letting the customer speak and explain their pain points, they're going to remember only that and have a negative impression about your product and company.

Similarly, if you're not engaged during the initial calls and just running through the motions, they will continue to have that confirmation bias even during subsequent interactions. 

And even worse, they may have buyer's remorse and might think, "I've made a mistake here. How do I get out of this contract?"

The key elements to really knowing a customer

It all starts with a seamless handoff from sales. You do not want to be asking your customers the same questions that your sales team has been asking them for the past three months. Ensure everything is documented correctly in your CRM, and thoroughly go through everything before the kickoff call. 

You can even schedule calls with your sales team to ensure you understand the client and their requirements properly. 

Look them up! Taking some time out to know your customer will guarantee a more seamless experience during onboarding. 

Put in the effort and build that connection with them! Show them that you care. Build relationships that go beyond just that one phone call or transaction. Ask them what success looks like for them 30 days from now and a year from now. Constantly measure yourself to see if you're living up to their expectations. 

Advocacy is another critical element. Make sure you send every customer a survey at the end of onboarding (after the Executive Business Review) to ensure that they really are your advocates.

Questions like, "Were you satisfied with the onboarding experience we provided? Was there anything you thought we could improve? Would you renew in a year from now?" can go a long way in turning customers into advocates.  

The S.C.O.R.E.D. Methodology

The SCORED methodology allows you to seamlessly hand off from sales to onboarding and onboarding to your adoption/implementation team. Even when you go in for the Executive Business Review and then to the renewals team, you can continuously have seamless handoffs. 

Four tips to get started 

  • Have an action plan: Plans only work when the whole company holds themselves accountable to a shared vision.
  • Have an enablement plan: Your team is the face of the product. Invest in their success with essential relationship skills.
  • Have an operation plan: If you just focus on product features, you miss out on operationalizing your business for scale.
  • Measure metrics that matter: Start measuring them even if it's in an excel sheet until you can afford a CRM or customer success platform. Start measuring how long it takes to hand off and what key moments during onboarding show adoption. You will need to collaborate with your product team and growth teams to understand which cohorts are adopting and how quickly. Then, look at CSAT and NPS. Finally, measure advocacy! Word-of-mouth is an actual metric; look it up!

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

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Rahul Sridhar
Content Marketer @ Rocketlane

Content Marketer at Rocketlane. Former teacher turned tech writer. Occasionally dabbles in comedy and rap music.

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