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4 steps to onboard a new SaaS customer

If you missed the infographic we published on this topic , you can find it here.

However, the purpose of this post is to provide an overview into the process. We have already published a YouTube playlist that outlines each step in the customer success process in depth, however this post will center around onboarding a customer.

There are numerous steps in onboarding a customer, however there are 4 major steps that are important in onboarding a customer.

Step 0: Making sure the right expectations have been set

Onboarding goals will come later, the reason this is step ‘0’ is because you have not even started onboarding. This step needs to be done to make sure you don’t end up aborting the onboarding midway.

Before you onboard a customer, make sure you understand his expectations from the product are. This will ensure you have a good idea of what the customer was informed about during the sales process. If you are your own customer success manager, then this step should be a breeze.

In cases where there are 2 different teams handling onboarding and closing, the process needs to be smooth. Typically, the process involves the sales individual who made the sale ‘handing off’ the account to the customer success team. Once the ‘hand off’ procedure is done, then the customer success team gets in touch with the customer.

Step 1: Establish clear onboarding goals

Before you can start onboarding a customer, you need to sit down and discuss the goals the customer has from the onboarding. Remember, unless you are looking at a multi-million dollar account, onboarding does not have to be complete ‘hand holding’.

Smart customer success managers will adopt a ‘show and tell’ approach. This ensures that you offer the right amount of training to your customer while silently monitoring vital statistics like customer product adoption etc.

Don’t start onboarding a customer without first agreeing on what they would like to get out of the product. Complex products can mean different things to different customers. So make sure there is absolute clarity on the onboarding process.

Step 2: Set milestones to check progress of the onboarding

Once goals are set, it is vital to set milestones that will indicate the progress of the onboarding. Milestones are both internal and external. Internal milestones are more around the organisation’s goals i.e. concentrate on a feature that shows great ROI to customers. While external goals are the goals set by the customer.

An ideal onboarding plan should be timeline based and should clearly show what milestone should be hit on what date.

Here is a screenshot of what an onboarding template would look like:

Step 3: Sign-off

Only when both your internal and external goals are met can you truly say onboarding is finished.

There is a possibility that external goals are met but internal goals are not. In this case, you can be transparent with the customer and let him know that while his side of the onboarding is done you are still waiting to meet internal metrics to complete onboarding.

Why is a complete sign-off important? To make sure that the customer also understands that onboarding is a structured process in your organisation and you are also monitoring internal metrics. In addition, it also helps you make sure that the customer is using your inputs to increase product and feature adoption.

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