Imagine being told you’re going on a vacation. You’ve been sold on it by this amazing travel agent - and it’s everything you’ve ever dreamed of... but there’s a catch. No one told you how you’re going to get there. Is it by boat? By plane? Are you going to need to hike up a mountain to your destination? This would leave you a bit unprepared to say the least, creating a hesitation and discomfort that may make you feel like that ultimate vacation might just not be worth it after all. It’ll have you thinking - should I have really trusted that travel agent?
This feeling of uncertainty is, unfortunately, what software onboarding has become these days. People are excited for the prospect of services they have been sold on and the problems they will solve, but the majority of onboarding experiences are a “trust me - it’ll be fine” situation. Customers are forced to give over the reins - let go and let... CSMs take the wheel. This creates a perfect storm, increasing buyer anxiety during the onboarding process.
84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services — up from 80% in 2018.*
But we aren’t just deploying software, we are influencing the entire way people feel at the moment they are using our software. I’m sure we all can remember the day we battled using a tool that delayed our work and made us miss our deadline. The tools we use on a daily basis have the power to throw us into chaos or deliver us results.
My passion for Customer Success comes from the opportunity we inherit to deliver amazing experiences that quite frankly have the potential to make someone’s day, or even career. As I have watched Customer Success transform throughout the years, I feel we have moved our focus away from the delivery of customer happiness to the obsessed need to measure and meet renewal and retention targets. The humor in all of it being, if we just made the customer happy, we wouldn’t have to spend our days chasing renewals - they would just naturally fall into place. The industry is often so focused on the results that they forget that the relationships we curate to deliver the results.
So how do we change this and why does it matter? I think there are two key areas we can focus early on to change the way we onboard clients.
- Recognize and address buyer anxiety & discomfort
- Create experiences for individuals
Recognize and address buyer anxiety & discomfort
Our buyers have taken a chance on us as a supplier and in many instances their reputation is at stake within their company. We should take the time to understand their feelings and to build a customized joint plan on how best to enable a successful engagement for that particular client. Secondly, we need to communicate that we understand what the buyer is facing and how to build and execute on a plan that will ensure their success. Setting clear expectations and accountability is key in easing buyer tension and ensuring that we are ahead of the curve.
Create experiences for individuals
Although contractual agreements are made by companies, we shouldn’t forget that people are the ones implementing, deploying, and adopting our products and services. By this very fact, it is essential for us to make their daily lives easier. As an example, onboarding plans are essential to the implementation process and we should be clear on how each persona within the client will be onboarded. I like to build onboarding plans based on personas, rather than the department or company.
None of this is brand new to any of us - but it is easy to forget the importance of treating people as people and not as just a member of a company (or contract).
The more time we take to recognize people's needs, emotions, and hesitations - the more we can focus on delivering interactions that encourage positive reactions from our clients.
So let’s spend most of our day curating positive interactions and less time trying to calculate, explain, and manage churn - because at the end of the day experiences are the only thing that matter.