Who should handle Onboarding- Onboarding specialist or CSM

Who is responsible for Managing Customer Onboarding in SaaS?

Over the period, we have seen customer success organizations evolving in multiple ways. And one of the ways in which we’ve seen it distributed is in the way it onboards the customers. The first one, where we have seen Customer Success organizations that have a customer onboarding specialist team and in the second one, we’ve seen Customer Success organizations that have customer success managers themselves responsible for onboarding customers. Now, if you’re gonna ask me, which is the right way.  I think the answer to it is a very “it depends” answer. It depends on various factors, like –

  • The complexity of your product?
  • How tech-savvy are your customers?
  • Whether you are selling to developers or are you selling completely to first-time to non-tech-savvy customers?
  • What is the onboarding time of the product that you’re selling?
  • How many steps are there in the onboarding process?
  • Is it complex, does it require bringing in multiple stakeholders together, where one department is bringing in data, another department is taking care of the operations, and other departments taking care of the administration?

So it is a very “it depends” answer. Get to know, How can the right onboarding process increase the renewal rate? Check out the here.

Customer Onboarding Template

Customer Onboarding Specialist Vs Customer Success Manager

No matter which position you take, I think it is very interesting how we approach the problem of customer onboarding specialists versus customer success managers playing a journalist role.

Pros of Customer Onboarding Specialist

So if I’ve got a specialist team, my pros and favor, are that, 
If you’ve got a specialist team, they know the art of onboarding a customer.
They’ll be very good at it, they’ll be very quick at it,  added the experience of onboarding customers and thus are likely to be a lot more consistent, a lot more professional approach in comparison to a generic team, who are likely to be more busy handling accounts as well in comparison to Onboarding specialists.

Plus, here’s a reason Why your SaaS might need an onboarding specialist?

Suggested Read: The ultimate guide to customer onboarding

Cons of Customer Onboarding Specialist Or Pros of Customer Success Manager

Let’s look at the cons or which also are the pros of having a generic team for doing customer onboarding and I think the biggest one is that during onboarding, you end up forming a relationship bond between the customer and the customer success manager would be onboarding manager, and that relationship can help you going forward and taking that relationship to the next level, post onboarding. Thus making sure that you continue to nudge the customer to more product stickiness, nudge them to the next level of desired outcomes, nudge them to help them educate and share more best practices and help them roll that product out across the organization and the same relationship can also help you make a case for upselling and upgrade. Because you don’t want to be the one who was blamed to show up just for the time of upgrade.

Drive Customer Success throughout the Customer Journey!

 And it’s that onboarding relationship where you’ve given help out to that customer that can be cultivated into an upsell upgrade opportunity down the line, whether it’s quarters or months or years down the line, and that sort of is the pros and cons between the two approaches.

Bonus  Tip: 5 Steps to defining a perfect Customer Onboarding process for a SaaS Customer

Puneet leads CustomerSuccessBox. He is deeply passionate about the three product joys - the joy of producing, the joy of selling, and the joy of ownership. His inspirations come from family, friends, mentors, people he works with and from free thinkers like Eric Ries (The Lean Startup), Tim Brown (Change by Design: Design thinking) and many more.