Customer Onboarding

Get your Customer Onboarding right- Alex Farmer

Alex Farmer is the VP of Customer Success at Cognite. He’s one of the 2021 Top 25 Customer Success Influencers. He had been recognized as a 2020 Top 100 Customer Success Strategist in a recent survey. Here, he discusses the steps to be followed for effective Customer Onboarding

Alex Farmer

Cognito is a global industrial AI-SaaS firm that supports the full-scale digital transformation of heavy-asset industries around the world.

Can you define successful onboarding?

Successfully set a customer up with your technology so that they can achieve their business goals, matching your features and functions to address the problems they are trying to solve

What are the ingredients of a perfect customer onboarding?

Continuity.  The customer should never have to repeat themselves, so sales and CS need to ensure there is a robust handover of information so that the customer feels like there is no handover at all.

What are the KPIs and metrics you track for onboarding?

  • Time to the first value,
  • ost-project CSAT score,
  • Services margin,
  • Accuracy of scoped cost vs actual cost.

What happens if customer onboarding goes wrong?

The CSM will struggle to make the customer successful and they will likely churn.  The CSM will spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to help the customer succeed, neglecting other customers.  Bad onboarding forces the CSM to be reactive and not focused on proactive, value-generating activities, negatively impacting expansion and advocacy metrics for their assigned book of business.

How do you know that you’re off track?

If you have a separate CS and onboarding team (you should) the CSM should periodically check in with the exec sponsor to temperature check progress.  This provides an early warning and helps the CSM build the exec relationship from day 1.

When should you start customer onboarding? (Pre-sales / Post Sales)

The onboarding team should engage when the deal is 60-70% probable.  This ensures a smooth transfer of information, a head start with relationship building, and a differentiator against your competitors.

Any tips on a handoff from sales to the onboarding team?

Add a sales to success handover process in your CRM or CS tool.  Ensure sales completes the required fields before they can close the opportunity.  

Who should be responsible for customer onboarding? 

Onboarding Team.

Why should (the team you selected in the previous question) be held responsible for onboarding?

See answers above.

Tips for leaders while setting up the onboarding process. 

Think about the “how”.  

  • We can have a smooth customer journey with an internal sales to success handover, kickoff call with the customer, requirements gathering, etc, but how will the customer experience each of those steps?
  • When the deal is signed, will they get an email out of the blue from the onboarding manager asking them to fill out a 10-page word doc they’ve never seen before ?
  • Or maybe a list of customer prerequisites they need to have in place?  
  • How about a video thank you message from the account exec and a video intro to the onboarding manager? 
  • Maybe an invitation to your customer community where they can hear from other recently onboarded customers?

Customer Onboarding Template

Swagata is Head of Marketing at CustomerSuccessBox. Advocate for great customer experience. She is an avid traveler and when she is not working always on the lookout for new places to explore.