The Ultimate Client Onboarding Checklist for CS Teams

client onboarding checklist

A Customer Onboarding Checklist for Successful CS Teams

A lot goes into crafting the ideal onboarding process for SaaS products. You need to clearly demonstrate the ins and outs of your software to ensure your customers know how to use it and how to employ it effectively in the pursuit of their enterprise’s unique needs and goals. At the same time, you need to minimize time-to-value (TTV) to ensure customers see the benefits of your product as soon as possible.

One way to tackle these challenges is to utilize a customer onboarding checklist for your CS team that delineates all of the targets that need to be hit during this stage of the customer journey. In this article, we’ll cover what you need to know to create an effective onboarding checklist. First, we’ll review the onboarding process and why it’s crucial. Then, we’ll go over what should be covered in your onboarding process and provide you with a comprehensive checklist on what to include. Finally, we’ll offer some tips on why optimizing your onboarding process matters and how you can leverage technology to integrate your checklist into an efficient onboarding process.

What Is the Client Onboarding Process?

In the SaaS industry, onboarding is the process of guiding a new customer through the steps they need to start using the product they just purchased. The term is borrowed from human resources management. It was originally used to describe the steps in training a new employee to start functioning as a member of the organization. By extension, the term is used in SaaS to describe the steps in orienting a new customer on how to start using your software product.

Client onboarding procedures typically cover steps such as:

  • Welcoming new customers
  • Assigning account managers
  • Activating accounts
  • Creating usernames and passwords
  • Completing profiles
  • Personalizing dashboard interfaces
  • Introducing navigational features
  • Guiding customers through how to use basic features
  • Describing where to access self-service and customer support tools
  • Educating the customer on how your platform can support their business goals
  • Ensuring a smooth handoff between the Onboarding Team to the Customer Success Team

Completing these steps enables a new customer to start making practical use of your product and its features. This sets the stage for expanded usage of your product. Thus, in your customer journey map, onboarding fills in the gap between your customer’s conversion to a premium buyer and their adoption of your product into their daily workflow. Successful onboarding sets the customer on a path toward product adoption, subscription renewal, and long-term loyalty.

The purpose of onboarding new customers is to help them start using your product’s functionality and derive value from their purchase as soon as possible. This increases customer satisfaction, reduces the risk of refund requests and increases the likelihood of customers renewing their subscriptions rather than churning. It also promotes higher product usage, increases the likelihood of upselling purchases and encourages customers to become enthusiastic brand advocates.

Customer onboarding progress may be monitored through key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect successfully completing onboarding steps. For example, an essential onboarding KPI is time to complete onboarding. Tracking this metric can help your customer success team identify when individual customers need help completing onboarding. It also can enable you to automate the process of delivering onboarding assistance. Totango’s customer success platform includes an onboarding module with built-in KPIs and workflows that can automatically send support emails or alerts to CS staff if data indicates a customer needs help with onboarding. Monitoring onboarding KPIs also can help you spot trends that reflect any snags in your onboarding process that need troubleshooting and correction.

Why Is Creating a New Client Onboarding Checklist Important?

A new client onboarding checklist serves several important functions that benefit both your company and your customers:

  • A client onboarding checklist helps you standardize your onboarding procedures. This creates a repeatable process that delivers consistent results. You know exactly what needs to happen for customers to complete onboarding, and you can walk your clients through each step of the process reliably toward a successful conclusion.
  • Your checklist serves as a reference document that your customer success team and customers can consult. If anyone has a question about onboarding, the answers are right there. Your team and your customers don’t have to guess what happens next.
  • A checklist reduces the risk of missing critical steps because you or your customer forgot something. You don’t need to remember what to do because it’s all right there.
  • Having documented onboarding procedures allows you to automate your process. You can create automatically triggered workflows to assist customers through onboarding, saving time for your support team and your customers.
  • Automating your onboarding checklist helps you establish KPIs to track individual customer onboarding progress and the success of your onboarding procedures for your entire customer base or segments of your customer base. You can use this information to automatically trigger help for individual customers or flag problems in your onboarding process.
  • Having a standardized checklist keyed to KPIs lets you test adjustments to your onboarding procedures to improve and optimize them. You can progressively remove barriers to onboarding and shorten the time it takes for customers to complete onboarding.

Developing an onboarding checklist can help make onboarding a smoother process for your team and customers, and should be a high priority for any SaaS customer success team which doesn’t already have one.

What Should Be Included in a Client Onboarding Checklist?

Your client onboarding procedures checklist should include everything that a new customer needs to do before beginning to use of your product. From your customer success team’s perspective, it should consist of everything your team needs to do on their end to guide customers toward the goal of deriving value from your product.

Items that might be on your checklist include:

  • Identifying contacts on your team and at your client’s company
  • Listing steps in your client’s onboarding progress
  • Listing tasks your team or software must perform to help customers complete these steps
  • Establishing benchmarks representing progression and completion of onboarding
  • Defining key performance indicators to track onboarding
  • Incorporating information about client goals from your initial client quarterly business review, if applicable
  • Listing steps to set up performance monitoring in your customer success platform
  • Creating automated and manual procedures to implement if customers appear to be stuck in onboarding
  • Designing a post-onboarding survey to incorporate into your customer journey workflow
  • Identifying next steps after a customer has successfully completed onboarding
  • Steps for reviewing and segmenting onboarding data to analyze patterns and troubleshoot issues

Exactly which steps to include may vary with your product and customer. You can use a new client onboarding checklist template to help you streamline the process of using your onboarding checklist for new customers.

Why Optimizing Your SaaS Onboarding Matters

Optimizing your customer onboarding may not be your only priority, but it should definitely be high on your list. How quickly and clearly you can demonstrate the value of your product during the onboarding stage has a direct effect on customer retention and churn. Retention rates affect overall revenue and sales growth and your projected brand image.

Implementing a customer onboarding checklist for your customer success team can seem daunting when your team already has a lot on its plate; however, consider that your CS team is likely doing one or more of these steps already. The purpose of a checklist is not to increase your team’s workload but rather to ensure that your customers’ onboarding experience is consistently positive. Happily onboarded customers are more likely to fully adopt your product, renew their subscriptions, recommend your software to others, and even increase their spending than those who are less impressed with their experience.

Client Onboarding Checklist for CS Teams

Whether you are onboarding a completely new customer or simply introducing a new version of your product to a returning customer, checking all of the boxes in the customer onboarding checklist is essential to ensuring the best possible onboarding experience for your customers—and the best possible business outcomes for your enterprise.

  • Define your goals and KPIs. Track KPIs that let you determine when milestones have been reached so that customers see the value your product delivers.
  • Invest in customer success software to optimize your customer success workflow.
  • Design and implement a digital engagement strategy that allows for personalized messages to be sent at scale using automation. Provide value to the customer based on where they are in their journey.
  • Set up an early warning system that will identify red flags, such as inactivity or too many support tickets, and automatically notify customer success managers and provide proactive next steps for them to take.
  • Segment customers to look for common issues and bottlenecks among different customer groups; use these insights to update and improve your onboarding process continually.
  • Determine best practices for addressing common onboarding challenges ahead of time so that your team can proactively take action to prevent churn.
  • Provide detailed training and access to a community forum to discuss issues with customers.
  • Monitor customer data at scale to ensure that customers are progressing through the onboarding stages and have not lost interest or become stuck.
  • Provide an onboarding survey after the customer completes their journey. Close the loop with customers with negative feedback to help resolve issues before they get passed onto another team. Review and make necessary changes to your onboarding process to ensure a seamless and positive experience.

You may need to add a few entries to your own CS team’s customer onboarding checklist to address objectives unique to your enterprise. As long as it includes the points above, however, your CSMs will be well-prepared to deliver an onboarding experience that provides a smooth segue into regular, successful use of your product.

Optimize Your Onboarding Checklist Implementation with Innovative Technology

Customer success technology can help you integrate your onboarding checklist into an automated onboarding workflow for optimal results. The best way to encourage rapid results, customer engagement and internal collaboration is to utilize a customer success platform that facilitates all three. A customizable, intuitively designed solution can be vital to perfecting your internal workflow while enabling your team to provide customers with precisely what they need during (and after) onboarding. Look for a platform that focuses on quantifiable goals and results to help you deliver business results to your customers.

Ensure that your platform of choice is scalable to grow and evolve alongside your enterprise. The better your onboarding process becomes, the more customer-centric growth you will enjoy.

Totango’s customer success platform includes a Manage Onboarding Projects SuccessBLOC with built-in best practice workflows and KPIs you can use to integrate your onboarding checklist into an automated, optimized onboarding process. Our Digital Onboarding SuccessBLOC allows you to automate your onboarding with a tech-touch strategy, which can be especially important during uncertain economic times when you need to do more with less. Incorporate your onboarding workflow into our customer journey map template to build your onboarding process into a comprehensive customer success strategy to promote consistent renewals, upsells, and referrals. In these challenging times, you need a solution that helps you deliver results quickly and pivot when needed. Get started for free today with our Onboarding SuccessBLOC to find out what an outcomes-based approach to customer success can do for you.

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