The two biggest driving factors for a smooth or rocky onboarding are...

  • 14 November 2023
  • 5 replies

Userlevel 3
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SaaS Customer Onboarding has been my professional focus for the past 10+ years. Two big areas that seem to continue to separate smooth onboardings from rough/extended ones are these:


- Client Availability

- Client Commitment


How has your organization worked to address these or any helpful tips/tricks for addressing these two areas?

5 replies

Userlevel 7

In my experience, the biggest differentiator is the customer. How bought in are they? That's the one variable that always changes. You could have the perfect process in place, but if they aren't bought in you'll get nowhere fast.

One thing I've been studying lately is the product adoption curve. The earlier the customer is on the curve, the easier they'll be to onboard. The later they are on the curve, the harder.

That begs the question: How do we find more innovators, early adopters, and early majority?

Not to be pessimistic, but nothing jumps out of me and I've concluded that there's not an easy way. However, instead of focusing on what you can't control, focus on what you can and in this case it's being able to identify where new customers fall on that curve and applying best practices/playbooks to accommodate their onboarding style.


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Userlevel 5

I think there is one that is missing here. You need to include customer data and system readiness when you are including any form of integration or data ingestion. I’ve been in a number of roles where that was critical and even when the customer is fully engaged and committed, not having clean and accessible data can send a project to a screeching halt.

Your customer and the whirlwind they live in is the most challenging part as you have no control over it. A few things that can help:

  1. Have a relationship with the buyer and meet with them on a regular cadence.
  2. Ensure they assign a product owner to ensure success of their investment.
  3. Align your support with their strategic goals.
  4. Meet with them on a regular cadence - keeping those goals front and center with the tasks you and the customer are completing to meet those goals. 
  5. Hold each other accountable and at the end of the year provide the list of accomplishments and capture the outcomes related to them. 
Userlevel 7

Love those points!

@rondeaul - How do you ensure the customer’s data is ready? Do they go through a data/system readiness phase before onboarding? Does Sales qualify them? Curious to learn what you’ve seen work best!


@JPorter - Do you have them assign a product owner in the kickoff call or does that happen sooner? PS I love the tip on constantly showing them their goals so they stay motivated.

I did not used to do that - when I joined that was not part of the process but now I am requesting it at kickoff or before and going back and asking for it where it did not previously exist.  Some customers engage very well without having to force it, others even when you ask for it - they just shrug their shoulders as there is a disconnect between the decision maker who purchased it years ago (before I arrived) and those who are supposed to use it and have no idea why. So ideally client success needs to be involved during the latter part of the sales process to ensure that gap is bridged. 

We also have a data quality process - we call it a data quality assessment where we evaluate the data for completeness, consistency, and standards. Meaning - of all of the data elements we use, do we receive them?  How often do we receive them? Do they follow standards or are they local codes that must be mapped?  We also have a data schema we ask the customers to use. We do some validation each month as well - looking for missing data, data with special characters that cannot be consumed, changes in volume, etc.