On-Going On-Boarding is the New Normal in Customer Success

Bill Cushard

Director of Marketing

When it comes to customer success, on-boarding new customers is an obvious place to start. After all, the first 90 days of a new account is a critical time to ensure customers get set up properly, learn the product, and start realizing value. There are many ways to do this, and most enterprise software companies have an on-boarding process to help customers get up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Everything is great until eight months later when you find out your customer has hired new people for the team and they need training. In other words, what do we do for on-going on-boarding to help customers continuously be successful?

I am not just talking about support. Support is important and is designed to help customers in a sustainable way. However, in a nimble economy and with employee turnover rates ranging from five and 30 percent per year for most industries, it’s important to think about on-boarding existing customers every eighteen months.

And if most cloud software companies are not profitable and do not achieve break even until years two, three, or four, keeping customers successful into those years, even when the entire team could be new, is critical.

So the question is: How can we deliver on-going on-boarding to customers so they can continue to achieve success, even when teams are being replaced every two years?

One way to do this is through customer training programs.

From On-Boarding Training to On-Going Training

Does your on-boarding training only cover employees who are there from the beginning of the contract? What about six or twelve or eighteen months later when customer have hired three new people, or key leaders are replaced?

I propose that all customer success and training leaders start offering on-going training that is scalable, easy for customers to access, addresses the needs of new team members, and covers major product updates.

Here are a few ways to offer on-going training:

Self-paced Tutorials – Self-paced tutorials that are task-specific are a great way to provide your customers an easy way to get a short lesson on how to do something in your product. And on top of that, distribution is just about free. The downside of tutorials is that they are time consuming to create and are quickly outdated as your software changes. But when combined with a knowledge base, tutorials can help customers maintain their skills and on-boarding new members of the team.

Live, Weekly “Office Hours” – The most scalable solution to time-consuming tutorials that get outdated quickly is to create office hours via a live webinar. Office hours, delivered by a virtual training technology like GoToTraining, Webex, or Adobe Connect, are an excellent choice because you get the benefit of a live instructor and the scalability of reaching large numbers of users. Plus, the resources required to develop content are minimal because “office hours” content can be driven by attendee questions.

Schedule on your website – There will be times when more in-depth training is required. Specifically, when you ship major new product features or when your customers hire new people. The key to success in keeping your customer skills up on your product is making training readily available. Post an open schedule on your website so your customers can find it and easily register for training. You will need to decide how this training is paid for, but you want to make it as frictionless as possible so employees at your customers can easily take advantage of it.

Promote your training – No matter how great your training is, it’s no good if your customers cannot find it. Promote your training to your customers with in-product messaging, through newsletters, and during quarterly business reviews (QBRs). You have put in a lot of effort to develop and deliver training to your customers, so do not forget to promote it.

A Team Today Is Not the Same Team in 18 Months

It is easy to run through on-boarding processes and then pass customers off to support. However, it’s important to remember that companies are living, breathing entities that are constantly evolving. A team today may not look anything like the team in 18 months, and enterprise software companies need to stay ahead of these changes in order to help our customers success and renew.

Call for Comments:

  1. Do you offering on-going training to your customers? How?
  2. How does employee turnover and re-organizations at your customer companies impact your business and renewal rates?



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About the author

Bill Cushard is the head of training at ServiceRocket, a unique Customer Success company focused on ensuring enterprises and users successfully incorporate software into their businesses and lives – so they use it, love it and buy more. Bill leads the training services group, helping fast growing software companies build out scalable customer training functions.

Cushard’s beat is the intersection of learning, enterprise software adoption, and customer success. He is co-author of the book, Critical Skills All Learning Professionals Can Put to Use Today, and is currently working on his second book about how organizations effectively learn, adopt, and achieve outcomes using software. Follow Bill on Twitter@billcush.

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