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Essential SaaS Customer Onboarding Tips

What do your wedding day, the day your first child is born, and a successful customer onboarding experience have in common? They should all be unforgettable, of course! 

Now, what exactly produces an unforgettable SaaS customer onboarding experience? Well, it all starts with a smooth, personalized journey that takes fresh eyes through the ins and outs of your company. The key here is to connect the new user to the specific resources that they will need in order to successfully integrate the product into their daily workflow

This SaaS customer onboarding process should reiterate to your customers that they made the right choice by investing in your product. But, that’s not always as easy as it seems. 

To better understand how to improve SaaS customer onboarding, we interviewed Groove’s own VP of Customer Experience, Mike Sutherland. 

Without further ado, let’s dive deeper into this Q&A.

Q&A with Mike Sutherland, VP of Customer Experience at Groove

1. For organizations where the Customer Success team owns customer onboarding, how do other teams, like Marketing, Sales, Product, and User Experience, support the onboarding experience?

  • Onboarding definitely can’t be done in a vacuum. At Groove, Customer Success owns customer onboarding, but we also get support from Sales, Product, and Marketing. Sales is the first supporter of the onboarding process by bringing CS into prospect deals that are getting close so CSMs can get to know the customer and establish continuity for when the deal closes. The partnership continues once the deal closes with AEs and CSMs coming together for a hand-off call to gather as much information as possible to have a successful kick-off with the customer. 
  • Product will also play a role in onboarding for strategic customers that require customization or enhancements to support their needs. In this case, CS and Product work closely together to strategize with customers and determine what features or functionality might need to be developed. Finally, Marketing assists in keeping customers informed of new features, product tips, and training opportunities.

2. How do you divide users into segments for onboarding? Why is segmentation useful? What roadblocks have you run into with this approach? Can you provide examples that may include persona-based, market-based, or product-based segments?

  • Groove was built to be highly configurable for different types of users, so segmenting our onboarding on a team-by-team basis is essential. As a sales engagement platform provider, we typically deploy to Account Executives, Sales Development Representatives, Customer Success Managers, and their respective leadership teams – all of whom use the product differently and require different kinds of customization. After a strategic kick-off with everyone involved, we then transition to onboarding each team separately so we can get a deeper understanding of their expectations and goals. This more focused information sharing plays a critical role in helping us configure the solution properly for their team and train each individual according to how they will actually use it.

3. What actions do you take to avoid overloading the customer in the SaaS customer onboarding experience?

  • One of the main reasons large enterprises choose Groove is for our ease of use, so overwhelming them during the onboarding process would definitely get us off on the wrong foot. To make sure that doesn’t happen, we first have a kick-off with everyone involved in the onboarding, from Sales Ops to every line of business leader, and even some power users. By involving them early and often according to their roles – Sales opps for configuration, Sales Enablement to assist with training, line of business leaders to set up content and flows, and then power users to provide real world input on how the product should be set up. So, by tailoring the information we’re sharing for each group, we avoid getting them overwhelmed or distracted by things that don’t matter to them.

4. How do you continue to manage the customer experience beyond onboarding?

  • Making sure you’re having regular communications with all of the key stakeholders from leaders, those managing the system and end users. And equally important, those communications offer relevant content for each role. At Groove, CSMs uses email to keep in regular touch with users, which is then supplemented by newsletters, webinars, and refresher training. Our CSMs also make a point of meeting with LOB stakeholders and system administrators either quarterly or more frequently depending on how strategic the customer is to the business.

5. How have you accelerated time-to-value with your product through SaaS customer onboarding?

  • We find the way to accelerate time-to-value is to Involve managers and power users immediately out of the gate. We get them trained right after the kick-off and get them set up right away so they can help with the design of the platform.

6. How do you help the customer define their success within the user experience? Do you correlate key onboarding events with the customer’s future success?

  • Working to define customer success starts in sales cycles. It’s really good sales work. It’s the CSM getting involved in the sales process. And it’s a very good hand-off to the CSM. And then ultimately, it’s a very good kick-off call where we outline what we believe success will look like for them and then allow them to modify and add to it.

7. How do you motivate unenthusiastic customers to go through the onboarding process?

  • Fortunately, this isn’t something that’s been a problem at Groove. During the sales process, we make it clear that onboarding is essential to get the system configured properly for each team. We are very hands on from the very beginning, and we work through onboarding together.

8. What are your most critical KPIs to track onboarding? Why?

  • When evaluating the success of our onboarding process, we look at four different KPIs: License assignment percentage, to make sure they deploy everything they’ve purchased; Active user percentage, to ensure they are getting maximum value; Use of features by active users to know which are valued most highly and which are being overlooked; and NPS as a measurement of whether they are using the platform as laid out during kick-off.

9. What’s your best practice advice for SaaS customer onboarding?

  • Involve every stakeholder early and often. It would be a mistake to pick and choose which ones are important. It’s critical that everyone is involved from day 1 so everyone’s voice is heard – and that everyone feels their voice is being heard. Secondly, building on small successes and staging the onboarding is important.   Always deploy to a small group first, see some success, get feedback, and then make adjustments before you deploy to the next group.

10. On the contrary, what best practice advice has not worked for your organization? Why?

  • When you have a bunch of different roles and different teams, training everyone in one webinar is not the best approach. Instead, we rely on role based training that incorporates many different interactive elements to keep people engaged. 
  • QBRs are an integral part of many CSM teams, but at Groove, they haven’t really worked because every LOB user and team uses us so differently. While we don’t have formal QBRs with all the stakeholders, we do conduct similar meetings with specific individuals who can report on how our platform is performing against internal KPIs.

Successful Customer Onboarding Drives Adoption and ROI

Overall, a smooth SaaS customer onboarding experience is essential to long-term customer success and retention. At Groove, we recognize just how important it is for every new user to completely understand how to utilize all of the features that come along with our product, which is why we take customer success so seriously. 

We know it takes a village to raise a child, so we make sure that all relevant teams at Groove have a voice in how we onboard new users to our sales engagement platform. After all, well-developed enterprise software can only have an impact if users thoroughly understand how to apply the technology to their own roles. Anything else, and you risk struggling with low adoption – which is a killer of ROI.   

The best way to maximize adoption and ROI is by ensuring that every user upon completion of onboarding is confident in how to effectively use your product to its full potential.

G2 Fall 2022 Grid Report - Sales Engagement Software

G2 Sales Engagement Software Report

Learn why Groove is leading the pack, and how the top providers are ranked across several criteria, including user satisfaction and placement in G2’s proprietary Grid® Report.

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