When it comes to SaaS client onboarding, getting it right the first time is essential. Unfortunately, many companies make the mistake of believing that onboarding customers is a one-time event when in reality, it is an ongoing journey that requires proactive engagement. Businesses must ensure they are not signing up new customers only to watch them abandon their onboarding journey due to a lengthy and confusing process.
When customers are not “on-boarded” the right way, they may stop partway through the process or decide not to begin altogether. Not only could that prevent them from working with your company, but they might also discourage others from working with you.
Therefore, companies need to recognize the importance of taking steps throughout the onboarding process to ensure customer success and satisfaction. Understanding what could go wrong is essential to avoid damaging mistakes during the onboarding process.
Here are ten of the biggest client onboarding mistakes you want to avoid.
1. Not Having a Well-Designed and Documented client onboarding Process
One of the biggest secrets to a successful client onboarding process is actually having a strategy and a process. Even if every customer's business is different, all client onboarding projects share common elements and stages — such as gathering and verifying data, configuring the solution provider’s application, and so on. Without a process, valuable information may not be collected appropriately, configured, or verified, leading to confusion and wasted resources.
Lacking an established and documented client onboarding process is also harder on your employees, who must work hard to find the right way to get each customer up and running, often starting from scratch with each new onboarding project. It also takes longer for customers to get set up, leading to frustrations on both sides of the equation.
2. Not Tracking Success Metrics
You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Metrics is a significant consideration for client onboarding is whether it's successful overall. Therefore, establishing and monitoring metrics throughout the onboarding process is crucial for helping clients feel like the process is going smoothly.
How do you know if it's working? Your client onboarding manager must track success metrics and key performance indicators. Your reward for keeping track of mission critical metrics? Your clients more likely to stick around and your onboarding staff will be happier too.
3. Failing to Identify Critical Stakeholders on Both Sides
Who is ultimately responsible for success on both sides? Identifying the key stakeholders and their roles within the client and solution provider’s organization is essential for successful client onboarding. With stakeholders on the project, it is easy to understand who will be responsible for decision-making, completing milestones and deliverables at different onboarding stages, and who will be ultimately accountable for the success of the client onboarding project on both sides. Not identifying all stakeholders can lead to miscommunication, often resulting in delays and higher costs associated with client onboarding.
4. Inconsistent Transitions from Sales to Rollout
Failure to properly “pass the baton” is one of the key reasons client onboarding projects go awry. For onboarding projects to be successful, a solution provider should establish clear relationship ownership to ensure the client feels supported at all times.
- Customer management - assign an onboarding point person as soon as possible after the deal is closed. It’s helpful for sales to revisit the client implementation process at least once towards the end of onboarding to help close the loop on the value propositions made during the sales process.
- Similarly, give client success or client support organization the heads up that the client is entering the “onboarding queue” and will graduate into their organization when the onboarding project is completed. It’s an excellent opportunity to check in with the client throughout the onboarding process to help make the client familiar with the next stage of their process.
- Project information - all data related to the client’s company, assumptions made, decisions made, and even personal connections are documented, transitioned, shared, and tracked to the onboarding team and beyond. There are few things more frustrating to clients than being asked the same questions during the onboarding process as they had been during the sale. Think about the time you had to fill out a paper form at a doctor's office, knowing too well that all the information is already on the doctor’s software system :)
5. Failure to Align & Stay Aligned with Customers
Ideally, your sales, onboarding and client success organizations are aligned internally on the client commitments. That said, to avoid assuming and any misunderstandings that could lead to client frustration take the time to revalidate and become more granular with the client's expectations. Leverage as much as possible from the information gathered during the sales process.
Take time to learn the answers to questions, including
- What are their goals and objectives?
- Review the scope and agree on a mutual understanding of deliverables.
- What are the definitions of success and metrics to track it?
- How do they envision the rollout of the new solution within their organization?
- What are preferred working dynamics - high touch / low touch?
- Expected downtimes or vacations or any other factors that could impact the timeline
Consistently aligning with your customers' goals and providing them with tailored solutions builds a sustainable customer relationship, ultimately leading to mutual success.
6. A Lack of Communication and Transparency About the Onboarding Progress
“Are we there yet? Why is it taking so long?” Your onboarding team may have worked on the client onboarding project exclusively for weeks, but if there is no tangible evidence of their work, the client will have no appreciation of that and can become frustrated when they are not in the loop of the progress. It could be doubly frustrating if the ball was in the client’s court the whole time and both sides were waiting for the outcome.
To avoid frustration, clients must be able to monitor and track their journey, milestones completed, and any outstanding tasks in the onboarding process. This helps to understand better how much more needs to be done before they can use your product or services and get the most out of it.
Modern onboarding software can complement regular touchpoints and provide real-time insights into all relevant information.
7. Failure to Change Management into Account
Even if we all understand the potential benefits and positive business impact, change is not easy for most of us. Being empathetic and supportive of the change process and uplift required on the client’s part through the change will help avoid situations when the client is overwhelmed with the amount of work required to make a move and will help keep the onboarding project front and center and on track.
Here are a few other ideas to help ensure the change management process is easier on the clients. Oftentimes it comes down to three main issues; asking a customer to do too much all at once, too much jargon, and poor support.
a. Asking the Customer to Do Too Much at Once
Customers are generally happy to go through the process of onboarding if they see the value your company will bring through this process. However, it's essential not to ask too much of new clients too quickly. Think back to some of your onboarding experiences when you were asked the laundry list of questions that could take weeks to complete. If the onboarding process becomes too much of a hassle or you give customers too much "homework," they might skip it and work with someone else. Try breaking it down into smaller chunks with clear turnaround expectations on both sides. Drive positive reinforcement by reminding clients that timeliness will help get them to the finish line faster :)
b. Using Jargon the Customer Doesn't Understand
When starting with your company, customers can be put off by too many acronyms or unfamiliar jargon. Instead, they just want to understand what you're offering them, the process of getting set up, and how to get the most out of your SaaS solutions.
Customers shouldn’t have to wonder what you're talking about. Cut out the jargon as much as possible, and make sure all essential terminology is clearly explained through documentation.
c. Lack of support while your client adjusts to changes
When companies are transitioning to new processes, it can take time for customers to adjust and understand the new procedures. Inadequate support and guidance during this change can negatively impact the customer experience.
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8. Missing the Long-Term Follow-Up and Support
Client onboarding is a multi-step, ongoing process. Even after the actual onboarding is finished clients may still be relatively unfamiliar and somewhat uncomfortable with your offering. Without a clear plan of what happens after onboarding is finished, they could struggle in the future or feel neglected.
Start collaboratively planning the rollout within the client organization and transition to the client success or client support organization as early as possible. Knowing they can reach someone easily if they have a question can be enough to make customers feel supported and valued. Ensure you have ongoing training or resources available to clients throughout the onboarding process and beyond.
9. Forgetting to Survey and De-brief
Get a health check on the success of your onboarding process before the start and at the completion. Assuming that all is good if the client has been implemented may result in some potential surprises down the road. No news is good news does not apply here - if the client is silent, be sure to dig in a little.
By the same token, make sure to review the project with the onboarding team - what’s the overall feedback, how did the project do on the project timespan and time and effort involved compared to similar ones, and what could be improved during the sales project? Did it stay in line with the scope and timespan?
10. Forgetting to Continue to Improve, Automate, and Scale
Investing in modern practices, including automated processes, data-driven decisions, and streamlined workflows, are necessary for onboarding success. Streamlining and automating as much as possible of client onboarding helps keep things running smoothly while scaling allows the process to grow as the business does.
You should also continuously refine your client onboarding process by identifying areas where improvements can be made and incorporating innovations into your practice as they become available. This can include testing out new technologies or leveraging AI to improve the customer journey.
By investing in automation and scaling alongside continual improvement efforts, you can create a well-rounded platform for successful client onboarding projects that will help them reach their goals efficiently.
Master SaaS client onboarding Solutions With Setuply!
If you're ready to start seeing the benefits of a successful client onboarding process, now is the time to contact Setuply. Our team of experts will help you create a customized strategy for your business so that customers can enjoy an experience tailored to their individual needs.
We'll provide helpful tips on optimizing your onboarding process, from ensuring efficient communication processes with customers to setting up automated systems and streamlining customer profiles. With our ongoing support and guidance, you can rest assured that your client onboarding process is always running smoothly and that your company will continue to grow.
So don't wait any longer - get in touch with Setuply today and take your next step toward a successful client onboarding process!