A Universal Guide to buying customer onboarding and implementation software
Author: Megha Poojari
Let’s imagine a simple scenario where you go to a shop to buy an electrical washing machine. You meet the sales agent, and he explains to you every swanky feature that the machine offers and promises that other features of the machine and how to use the machine will be taken care of by the installation engineer.
You buy the machine because you know it’s going to solve your problems. The installation engineer comes in, explains to you the working mechanisms of the washing machine, and leaves, yet you are clueless about how to use the machine.
You ring up the showroom; they connect you to customer service, and then what you are left with is a back and forth between you, customer care, and the engineer trying to figure out what exactly is wrong or how they could help you.
But by this time, you have already made decisions not to buy from that showroom ever again and just wait out till the washing machine’s price is depreciated.
Does this incident look bright in terms of customer success?
This was a scene in a B2C space where customers are abundant (given the world population), but what about the B2B space? Let’s just narrow it down to the B2B SaaS enterprise space.
For a business operating in the enterprise SaaS space, customer success is one of the important aspects of staying in business. And with the extreme shift from an on-premise model to a subscription-based model, businesses are focusing on customer-centricity, now more than ever.
What does a customer journey look like in any enterprise SaaS industry?
Predominantly, a customer’s journey in an enterprise SaaS environment consists of these four steps.
- Customer Success
Brief Process and Issues
So if we take you through the entire process, it is something like this.
The sales team pursues the lead and tries to get conversions through Slack, emails, google sheets/excel, and Voila! Seals the deal. Then the contract is signed and the process of knowledge transfer starts wherein the sales team gives a download of the new client to the onboarding team through emails, slack conversations, call recordings, SOWs, etc.
The onboarding team then “tries” to gather as much information from the disbursed data gathering and sets up a kick-off meeting with the customer to introduce the team and discuss the milestones, requirements, and in-depth needs of the customer.
The customer is re-iterating their requirements for the second time; once with the sales team and once with the onboarding team. The onboarding team tries to take notes of entire requirements and shares them with the implementation team.
The implementation team then tries to piece together the customer requirements and tie them to the product roadmap. Now, remember, the product team wouldn’t take each customer use-case requirement into priority, but rather try to expedite and complete the pending tasks for the product development.
While the product team is working on implementations (with task allocations on JIRA or any project management tools), the customer success team takes over the customer and tries to establish a relationship with them by providing timely updates about the product milestones, progress, and delays through emails or weekly calls.
Sometimes there happens to be a delay from the customer’s end as well, because of a delay in communicating to the customer on what details/documents are needed, details of their requirements, etc.
The entire follow-up process is then taken care of by the CS team via emails, calls, etc and that again causes added work on the team since it’s a continuous chase till the customer provides the details on which the product team will start working on.
During this, the customer notices that the use-case requirements mentioned by them have not been implemented yet and the go-live delays are now reaching the fire-fighting stage for the CS team.
The customer is getting irate since there’s a delay in achieving the use-cases and that in turn, is delaying the go-live date. The customer success team is constantly working to get the customer to stay, but with the delays, the customer’s decision to look for other alternatives is getting stronger day by day.
Post the go-live, the customer isn’t delighted with the product delivered as there is a vast gap between what was promised to them in the pre-sales stage versus what was delivered to them on the go-live date.
In the end, the sales team, onboarding team, and the implementation team wash off their hands from the customer as they have delivered and the customer success team is now facing a barrage from the client because of disappointments, from the other internal teams for the communication gap and from the management because their KPIs is solely based on customer retention.
Did we just describe a recipe for customer churn?
Yes, we did!
So what’s the solution?
Now when we look at the bird’s eye view of the entire customer journey in an enterprise SaaS business, it is evident that most of the mishaps could have been eliminated if there was some way the internal teams were in sync with each other and the customer’s needs were accounted for from day 1.
The main reason for the communication gap in the internal teams is due to the presence of different silos of tools during each step of the customer journey. Along with that, once the implementation stage is in process, the product manager has no idea on prioritization of tasks and use-cases as most of the information is lost or zero insights on the revenue effect.
We know customer churns are inevitable, but in 2022, with most organizations aiming to scale their business with customer-centricity, it is imprudent that they sort this issue by having a single source of truth platform for their onboarding and implementation needs.
What is a Single Source of Truth Platform?
A single source of truth is a repository where data from several platforms may be gathered and arranged in one location. It’s simple to use and allows you and other team members to view data from one central spot.
During and after customer onboarding, for example, an enterprise SaaS may employ silos of tools. Other cross-functional teams may utilize a number of tools for data storage and retrieval in addition to the sales team’s use of multiple technologies. And that’s just for one customer.
In an enterprise SaaS firm, open and transparent communication is critical. When all of these tasks are completed on a single platform, the client’s expectations, use cases, work done by cross-functional teams, tracking, and prioritizing of work can be done effectively. It streamlines the onboarding and implementation process.
A single source of truth brings all of the information together in one location, making large data conveniently available and accessible. Streamlining cooperation with cross-functional teams by avoiding information loss.
Which tool should you be investing in?
If you Google the “customer-centric onboarding and implementation” platform, you will be bombarded with hundreds of tools’ suggestions that claim to be the perfect solution for your business needs.
Most of them promise to solve all your problems! But is it really the case?
Let’s look at some statistics. According to Lincoln Murphy, Customer-Centric Growth Leader & Expert, 30% of the SaaS companies in 2020 suffered from an unacceptable churn rate!
That means, most tools have been able to crack the issue but aren’t able to provide a foolproof solution for it as they are entirely focused on providing solutions for only one or two teams involved in the customer journey. That would again leave your business, fighting the issue of information loss.
So while making the investment decision of purchasing an onboarding and implementation solution, here are a few things you need to look out for.
The tool should be able to offer the following:
Providing Intelligent Focus
When multiple teams are working together, it is evident that each team would be focusing on different aspects of the customer journey.
Therefore it is important that the tool you invest in must provide you with the necessary infrastructure to plan and improve the speed of onboarding clients and reduce the implementation time.
Facilitate cross-functional collaboration
Stressing on the very important fact here, i.e. loss of information due to different silos of tools.
The customer-centric onboarding and implementation platform should be able to provide a single source of truth base for each client, to not lose any data or customer information during the handoff.
Easier collaboration between internal teams and customers will help increase the implementation team’s efficiency.
Most of the project managers or the customer success teams spend their time collating the required information by scavenging on different tools. These data are then to be presented to the internal teams and the customer in the process called reporting.
There is a high possibility that they might have skipped on a few major pieces of information, owing to the time required as well as accounting for the manual error.
Hence, the platform you should be investing in should be able to provide effortless visibility on crucial data that can help the project managers and the implementation teams to work on their product roadmap and allocate resources accordingly.
Entire customer context at the fingertips
The tool should be able to provide you with a single click view of projects, use-cases, tasks, and project dependencies of a customer in a holistic way.
Now the implementation leads wouldn’t have to go back and forth with the accounts teams or the customer success teams to understand the requirements of each and every customer. Back and forth of information is a recipe for delays and customer escalations.
Help evaluate & minimize revenue risks
A comprehensive customer onboarding and implementation tool should be able to provide actionable insights and recommendations to help your teams speed up prioritization not just on tasks levels, but on use-case levels.
Once the teams are able to recognize the revenue risks, this will help fuel prioritization of what needs to be given more attention and thereby helping cross-functional teams to achieve unanimous success!
Evaluation should also help your teams and customers understand accountability and dependencies of tasks and use-cases, thereby helping a seamless collaboration amongst the teams.
Choosing the right tool for your business is a very crucial task and especially in the enterprise SaaS business where customer-centricity is taking the forefront of the business.
Rupesh Rao, the founder, and CEO of CogniSaaS has rightly pointed out,
“The current tools for customer onboarding and legacy project management are mostly task tracking tools. For historical reasons, these tools were not designed to track the value delivery by tracking customer business outcomes and use cases.”
Therefore, it becomes imperative that more thought and planning should go into selecting the right platform for your business.