The Ultimate Guide to Client Onboarding Process for B2B Startups
The more sophisticated your product is, the more effort it takes to bring on new customers successfully. In the B2B world, the onboarding process gets even longer and more complicated. If your client is another company, every new user needs to be integrated and retrained and whenever your product or its settings are adjusted, even just slightly. Naturally, this process requires a lot of coordination, so it often fails and the customer stops using new software.
Of course, every SaaS company is unique and work processes differ. There is no one-size-fits-all guide to customizing your service for every customer and making everybody happy. But there are some essential principles and best practices we would love to share with you. We asked 11 professionals from B2B startups to share their experience.
Perfect your product
Put yourself in the client’s shoes
Here are several questions you need to ask yourself:
- What works perfectly now?
- Where did you get stuck or encounter any problems?
- What are the repetitive steps for each client? Can they be automated?
- How do you feel about your product (be honest with yourself!)? What can be improved?
Ask your existing clients about their onboarding experience
- What was convenient for them and where did they experience problems starting out?
- Did they have any questions? Were they ever confused?
- Which steps of the onboarding process could be streamlined or simplified?
Caroline Santander, the Director of Customer Support and Partner Enablement at Kenandy mentions that it’s useful to create a “sandbox” for users to play in every time you introduce a new feature.
Map your process
The onboarding in B2B companies is quite complicated. It requires a certain level of management and the processes should be stored somewhere, not just in your employees’ heads. Everything should be logged. It may be a full Standard Operating Procedures document or just a Google Doc with step-by-step instructions.
- Outline each step from start to finish. Make clear steps, tasks, actions, and key messages.
- Create content. What will you be sharing with new customers? It may be email templates, videos, presentations, printed material - it’ll depend on the way you deliver it.
- Proof and Test. At the very least, make sure you don’t have typos or design mistakes. Try your process and content out on friendly professionals. Read and evaluate every component to make sure it is easy to understand and user-friendly.
Our questionnaire participants have often mentioned that the "templatize" phase, formal communication documents, and how-to product guides after integration need to be improved.
Time the onboarding process
According to the experts, we asked, the onboarding process can take anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks for small clients to several months for large clients. So, it all really depends. But “if you hold customer’s hand for 90 days, they’ll be loyal for life,” says John Jantsch, the founder of Duct Tape Marketing.
Automate the process
Assign your best team
Decide who is responsible for what
Be sure your team is briefed on your client
Plan for a Great Kickoff Call
Educate your client
- Your and your team’s roles
- Your commitments (what the client should expect from you)
- The client’s commitments (what you expect of them)
- What comes next - the process
- How long it will take
- What could go wrong
- Сommunication schedule (how frequently you will have meetings, either in person or on the phone)
- Preferred set of tools to communicate and collaborate
Use the right tools
We asked real startups and found that the most popular instruments are:
- Onboarding process visualization: GoogleDocs, Amity, Casual
- Onboarding process tracking: Salesforce, Trello, Casual, Amity, WalkMe.
- Onboarding team coordination: Trello, Hubspot, Jira.
- Analytics: Excel, Gainsight, Totango, Intercom, Autopilot, Mixpanel.
- Communication: Slack, Totango, Gainsight, Amity.
Assess and improve
Have a 30-day check-up call
- Have questions ready
- Recap all activity within the first 30 days, summarize
- Highlight the wins
- End on a positive note
Exchange feedback regularly
Ask them questions and provide a survey. Use SmartSheet to collect data. You can use this info to improve the client experience and build business relationships.
Research shows customers who are effectively onboarded have a substantially higher retention rate, lower cost to serve, and higher cross-sell rate than customers that are not.
To sum up
- Have you successfully introduced your new client to your business and addressed all their questions?
- Have you gathered info on your client so you have insight into what products and services would benefit them?