3 Customer Onboarding Stages to Prep For As You Grow
How To Scale Customer Implementations
I’ve seen the evolution of customer implementations and onboarding at several B2B Saas companies and talked to many other Customer Success leaders in the industry.
Here are 3 common stages to understand and be prepared for.
3 Customer Onboarding Stages To Prep For
1. Implementation included with a month-to-month contract.
You’re a new kid on the scene.
Make them wildly successful
Learn a ton
Build brand credibility and trust
This is the “Earn Their Business Every Month” playbook. It requires an emphasis on customer support, soliciting customer feedback, and quick product and customer experience iteration.
It’s not going to be your long term business model but it’s a great place to start.
2. Paid implementations and annual contracts.
You have happy reference customers, some great success stories, and you’re known for your outstanding customer service. (Yay for investing in customer experience early on!)
Your industry has matured and annual contracts with paid implementations are the norm. High touch implementations delivered by your team are not cheap. You start charging. Other vendors have started this also and customers are used to the contract line item. You’re starting to get requests for custom integrations, additional training or strategy help, and other work outside of your implementation scope.
Maintain an excellent customer experience
Focus on financial predictability and stability - get cash up front, minimize cost centers
Build a repeatable product planning and roll out process (it’s likely still messy)
Continue to “templatize” your implementation process so it’s consistent and repeatable
Test growth strategies like moving upmarket or into new geographies
Turn your ad-hoc partners and consultants into an official partner program
3. Partner resellers and ecosystem.
Welcome to customer onboarding at scale! Partners handle most of the implementations and custom work. Many are also resellers. Their business is centered around providing strategy and consulting services for your industry and product. This works when demand is high, the market is big, and partners see the significant opportunity.
Equip partners to deliver excellent service through training, certifications, tools, and technical help
Standardize partner contracts, financial incentives, and rules of engagement
Build an internal department dedicated to partner support and development
Consider product and technical strategy - do you enable an app ecosystem?
Salesforce is known for their partner programs. This or this could be you one day!
It’s Never One Size Fits All
Every business is different. If you serve enterprise customers, you’ll likely do annual contracts and (large!) paid implementations from Day 1. If you’re a product-led or freemium model, your goal may be to enable a fully automated onboarding.
These stages are a starting place for discussion and planning.
The goal is to deliver the best service, with a healthy business model, in the way that’s right for you and your customers!
Have you seen other stages of customer onboarding and implementation? What did you do to scale this function for your company?