One of the most important—and overlooked—aspects of onboarding customers is not necessarily the onboarding itself, but it is the sales and marketing teams’ and agenda to set up the implementation for success. If you’re a Customer-facing leader and don’t have a great relationship with sales and marketing or input over this processes, you are doing it wrong.
Imagine your first day of class and the professor does not give expectations (syllabus) for the semester. Or you pull up Google Maps to find the time to your destination and it responds with “¯_(ツ)_/¯” . We would have been mad at the terrible expectation setting.
I am notorious for telling my wife — usually when I’m excited about something — the last two or three parts of a 10 parts story. I did this just the other day, in fact. I was telling her about a great conversation I recently had and I only told her how it ended. Zero context for what that meant, what preceded it, or what the goal of this conversation even was. It came across as bad news, when in fact it was great news!
Imagine we were told how to onboard customers, but were only told the last segment of the story? That’s what we often do with our customers almost every day. Sure, lots of companies in the sales process talk about customer success, implementation, and post sales stuff. But how relevant and helpful is it? Isn’t it often just a slide deck intended for the prospect to read? (They usually don’t.)
So how do we change this? How do we make this holistic story, where continuity is a key actor?
First, sales and marketing need to value it (often they already do). If we don’t have that, then that’s a major prerequisite.
Second — this might actually be first from a planning perspective — we need to think about the customers coming in and what questions, concerns, fears, agitations they might have. They just slapped down their credit card to buy your product or just started a trial of your product. What’s likely to cause buyers remorse? What may kill momentum? And no, the trial is not free. It’s rather costly. We might think it’s free because there’s no exchange of cash, but it requires time. For some of us, time is more expensive than money.
Thirdly, this is where design needs to craft the onboarding flow like a storyline. The first part of every movie is always the setting. It’s where you learn the characters, their fears and strengths, and what the dilemma or fight will be about.
Next comes context. This is where we understand what it’s all about, character development etc.
Next is the climax — but wait. We’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s focus on the setting and context because we’re too apt to jump straight into the climax and resolve. Honestly, that is the exciting part for us. And why we so often fail to set proper expectations up front because we want to jump straight to the “solution”. Don’t do that. Make it holistic. Reflect on the appropriate continuity. Be the leader your customers want you to be.