increase renewal rate

How can the right Onboarding Process Increase the Renewal Rate?

Onboarding, Onboarding, Onboarding!

Why do we write so many articles on onboarding? Having the right onboarding process can change several things for your company. How well the onboarding process is, has a major impact on the renewal rate and even the upsells.

Customer onboarding has several other advantages:

  1. Customer onboarding experience is almost wholly in the hands of the customer success team. The customer has just paid for your product and is super excited to learn how the product can solve their problems. The customer has a positive mindset and is ready to follow all your instructions. This is the time where you will have the highest attention of the customer who is willing to put all their energy to be successful.
  2. Customer onboarding is the first thing that a customer goes through after buying/subscribing to your product. As the popular saying goes, “First impression is the last impression”. A perfect onboarding can have an immediate impact on the bottom-line of the company. Once a customer has been onboarded and is able to achieve their goals, their trust in the product increases massively which helps if and when they hit roadblocks.
  3. Difference between an average and awesome onboarding process is not much. Few changes can make a huge positive impact on your onboarding process. Onboarding is the lowest hanging fruit that you can catch with minimum effort. 

Customer onboarding is like hitting not just 2 birds but several birds with a single stone ?

It is like hitting not just 2 birds but several birds with a single stone. So, now you don’t have an excuse for not throwing the stone (i.e. improving your onboarding process)

Customer Onboarding Template

As discussed in our previous blogs, a customer onboarding process should aim to achieve the following:

  1. Customer should be able to achieve their goals ASAP. Otherwise, they should at least achieve some early value that increases their confidence in the product. Your aim should be to help the customer reach the “Delight zone.
  2. Customer should have to put in minimum effort to reach their goals. Even if you have to go out of your way to minimize the customer’s effort, you should go for it.
  3. Teach only those features that will help the customer reach his/her goal. Both your and the customer’s time is precious. Teaching those features that the customer won’t use, may overwhelm them and can even lead to frustration.
  4. All customers do not buy the product to solve the same problem. Hence, there should be different onboarding processes for different use cases.
customer onboarding goals

Renewal Template

1. Manage customer expectations

This is the first and foremost work that needs to be done. The sales team will inform you about the problem that the customer is trying to solve. Start by understanding the roadblocks that the customer is facing, ask them about their expectations. Then inform them what all is possible in how much time. 

It is important to be truthful upfront. Don’t say things that you know cannot be delivered. If you set lofty goals and then the customer misses their target, you would be in the customer’s line of fire. Not only will the customer be frustrated but also the relationship will be damaged. It will lead to customer churn and a negative word of mouth.

Always try to underpromise and over-deliver. If a certain thing is not possible, inform the customer at the start and give them possible options. The customer might be accommodative and won’t be shocked in the end.

2. Person onboarding

While onboarding the customer we are no engrossed in following the process that we forget that there is also a person whom we are onboarding. 

As a CSM, empathy is an essential characteristic that you should have. Understand the customer’s point of view, what his/her problems are, before suggesting a solution.

You should be willing to go out of the way to help the customer. This elevates the customer experience and in the end, you are rewarded with increase in renewal rate and upsells.

Though each product will have a fixed number of use cases, the customer whom you are teaching the product can be different from others. Try to understand their pain. 

Some customers need more time while others are quick to pick up things.

Some customers like to learn everything themselves by trying the product and reading from the resources while others need a little more hand holding.

Try to accommodate the customer’s requests as much as possible if it will help them use the product in a better and faster way or will improve the customer experience.

3. Solve the business problem

Do you love your product?

Of course, you do! You believe in the company’s mission and vision; which is why you are working for the company.

Does your customer love your product?

They are hoping to like the product if the product helps them achieve the goals that have been promised by the sales team.

Usually when we love something, we talk about its best features first without thinking about what the requirements of the listener are. 

CSMs make the same mistake here of teaching the best features of the product to the customer.

Customer doesn’t want to learn about the best features of your product; they want to learn the best and easiest way that their business goal can be achieved.

Focus on solving the customer’s business problem. Teach them the easiest and fastest way to achieve their goals.

4. Automated onboarding or personalized onboarding

This is a common doubt that customer success teams have as both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Personalized onboarding

Higher product adoptionDifficult to scale
Better customer experienceEconomically not feasible for low paying customers

Automated onboarding

Advantages Disadvantages
Easier to scaleIf customer gets stuck, it is a problem
Reduces cost (More customers per CSM)Difficult to build a personal relationship

The best way is to combine both the types of onboarding (hybrid approach) to get the best of both worlds. 

Drive Customer Success throughout the Customer Journey!

Pro tip: Check out the Customer Onboarding Framework to get an action plan for designing your B2B SaaS Onboarding process.

What I mean by this is that you should automate as much of the onboarding process as possible but when a customer hits a roadblock, have human intervention to get the customer back on track. This way you are using automation to the maximum extent possible while retaining the human touch as and when required.

To understand in detail how a hybrid onboarding process can be set up, watch this video:

5. Setting up the correct Customer Health

Once the customer has been onboarded successfully, they will start using the product. If the health of the customer falls, deep dive into the data to figure out the problem. Call the customer to understand the roadblock and fix it ASAP.

Make sure you set up health correctly otherwise you will get wrong warnings which will lead to wrong outcomes.

When you say health of a person, it can be confusing! Are you talking about the person’s physical, mental, spiritual or some other type of health?

Same is the problem while setting up a customer’s health! 

In CustomerSuccessBox, to make the process easy and effective, we have divided Customer Health into 4 dimensions:

  • Financial Health: Tracks financial signals such as Revenue trend, Due Invoices amount, Days since last renewal and more to calculate Financial Health. 
  • Relationship Health: Track signals such as Touchpoint frequency, Recency of touchpoint and Touchpoints by channel to calculate Relationship Health.
  • Service Health: We have seen that people tend to ignore support post setting up success. Account Health 360 tracks critical unresolved tickets, Frequency of new conversations, Satisfaction score trend, etc. to calculate service health for each account.
  • Product Adoption: Tracks Product Signals like frequency of usage, depth of usage, active user trend, key usage milestones and license utilization to calculate product adoption health.

You can even set customer risk scores for specific accounts as per your requirements.

Risk Score: On the risk tab, you can define a custom risk score for the account, and add tags indicating common risk or confidence context curated by you or the team for quick at-a-glance view. You can maintain custom notes as well for Risk and Confidence.

Learn about the customer before setting up the health. Setting up wrong indicators is worse than not setting up indicators at all.

health alerts

6. Keep in touch with the customers

Every month/quarter (as agreed upon beforehand) set up a meeting with the client (in person/ video/ phone based) to understand how their experience has been, what can be improved and also get an insight into their changing requirements which may provide an opportunity to upsell.

If you have released a new feature that will make your customer’s life easier, make sure you educate them so that they can get the maximum benefit out of your product.

If there is a higher level plan which will help the customer achieve their goals in a better way, this is an upsell opportunity so make sure the customer understands the advantages of the higher plan.

To help you plan a perfect onboarding process, we have actually designed a sample onboarding framework along with giving examples.

Implement the above changes and I am sure you will observe a considerable increase in your renewal rate.

In the subscription economy, since you get revenue monthly/quarterly/yearly, you need to make sure that you are providing continuous value to the customer so that you become an indispensable part of their success.

Arnab is a content marketer at CustomerSuccessBox. In his free time he loves watching videos on YouTube and reading about entrepreneurship and startups.