We are implementing a couple of enterprise software applications right now. It's fascinating seeing the difference in onboarding strategies that each company has developed. As I look back at my history in the SaaS industry, assisting over a dozen companies develop their product marketing, I believe I've seen the best and worst of onboarding strategies.
First, I believe there are four key stages to Software as a Service onboarding:
- Post Sales – It's critical at this point for SaaS companies to identify the timeline, dependencies, team, and business goals. I'd recommend a welcome meeting between sales, the client, and the onboarding team to ensure that information is clearly communicated and documented.
- Platform Introduction – This is the core of every onboarding strategy – where users are provided their credentials to login and provided educational resources.
- Customer Success – Your SaaS provider should be your authority and expert on the industry, educating you and your team on best practices and strategies. I'm surprised at how many platforms don't actually assist their customers succeed despite their internal expertise.
- Platform Success – Having educated users and resources doesn't make for a successful onboarding strategy. Using the SaaS platform should be the goal of every onboarding strategy. Until your client has completed their first campaign or published their first article, they aren't done yet. Usage is a huge factor in SaaS retention.
In my experience, onboarding new customers all centers around three key elements:
- Management – having a competent team with the authority to correct issues in a timely manner as they arise is absolutely critical for success. They must match the speed and intensity of the client.
- Encouragement – having communications that are welcome, friendly, and keep one step ahead of your customers makes for an amazing experience. You should be gently pulling your new customer into using your solution while making it an exceptional process.
- Enablement – clients, especially those in the marketing and technology industries, are often very savvy and have used a multitude of technologies. Having the resources for your customers to self-guide their onboarding will reduce the pressure on your human resources and enable them to drive ahead.
Missing any one of these elements can derail your customers' onboarding success. For me personally, I get very frustrated when I'm forced to match the speed of the SaaS company. If they're too slow and won't let me jump in, I sit on webinars and pretend to listen. If they're too fast, I'm overwhelmed and often give up.
Your customers have their own workloads and hurdles they need to work through. Employee schedules, day-to-day work, and internal system dependencies often impact their ability to be onboarded on your schedule. Flexible self-service resources, combined with advanced support make for a superior onboarding process where the customer can go at their speed – often working quickly through some stages and slow at other times.
If you're able to match their speed and keep one step ahead of their challenges, you're going to make one heck of an impression – the first impression they have with your support and platform.
A Case Study in Onboarding – gShift
We've had a great relationship with many of the SEO platforms over the years, but one stood out as we continued to work on our clients content authority… gShift. As other platforms invested in filling out feature after feature for audits and rankings, we watched as gShift continued to model their platform after how digital marketers were working.
gShift's platform grew from an SEO platform to a web presence platform. Insight into keyword groupings, local search, mobile search, and social media impact, and competitive intelligence all made it into a seamless platform that we could use on our own properties and those of our clients. We became friends and colleagues… and now we're customers of gShift and they're clients of ours!
If you want to see onboarding done right, look no further than gShift. I was provided an account manager, access, and then all the resources I needed to customize and bring our clients aboard their platform. Here's a break down:
- gShift Help Center – Includes Getting Started guides, Using gShift guides, Agency guides, Keyword Reports, Beacons & Dashboards, kontextURLs Guide, Site Audits, Integrations, Product Updates, and Training Resources.
- gShift Industry Guides – Utilization of the platform is only one part of the equation. Ensuring customer success is the ultimate goal – so gShift provides guides for every aspect of search and content optimization.
- gShift Community Resources – In addition to the guides, gShift has recorded webinars, videos, podcasts, ebooks, user training schedules and product release updates. This is an exceptional strategy, providing resources in the mediums that clients based on their personal preferences.
- gShift Social Channels – If that's not enough, gShift also has a prominent and active blog and thriving social community across all social platforms.
The result of the effort put into these onboarding resources has paid off. gShift continues to lead the industry in both customer satisfaction and retention with their customers consistently providing feedback that onboarding was much easier and faster than competitors.
gShift will help you manage your brand’s entire web presence, track competition, track offsite content and influencer marketing campaigns, monitor social signals, gauge content performance, and conduct research. We're proud to also disclose that we're also working with one another.