If you’re in SaaS, you understand the importance of Customer and User Onboarding to ensure your customers are set up to succeed in using your product and services. But, when we start with Onboarding, we miss a HUGE opportunity.
Think about a perfect world, where you and your customer are aligned on goals, expectations, roles and responsibilities as well as the overarching success criteria. Imagine having all of this established BEFORE you start Onboarding; to influence the focus of your work and to enhance the joint experience for all involved. Well dream no more! This is possible.
Over the past few years, I’ve redesigned how I kickoff the initial engagement with our customers by starting with a Partnership Kickoff Meeting. The intention is to start with an Executive engagement to align on the journey ahead. During this well-orchestrated meeting, you have the opportunity to elevate the conversation and facilitate relationship building with your customer across all levels of the organization.
The Partnership Kickoff does not necessarily replace the Onboarding Kickoff, although it can, depending on the complexity of your Onboarding process. The objective of this meeting is to accomplish the following:
1. Align on Partnership Expectations
In this case we mean for both parties. You AND your customer will have expectations on what will make this partnership a success long term, and this is your opportunity to lay it all out there. Discuss the work that both teams will need to do and when; align on roles and responsibilities; clarify working styles and nuances. Cover whatever it is you have to upfront, so there are no surprises and everyone moves forward together.
2. Establish Goals and Measurable KPIs
You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Your customer has purchased technology to change the way they’ve done things previously for a very specific reason. It could be to save time, move faster, increase productivity or profitability, reduce headcount, work on other projects, etc. Whatever the reason, you need to make sure you’re crystal clear on those goals. Without them you’ll never know if you’ve been successful together. Now even more so, you need to map out the KPIs, (key performance indicators) to ensure you’re tracking the right metrics, that if improved, will help achieve their goals.
3. Facilitate Relationship Development
Establishing real relationships with your customers is critical for the long-term success of your partnership. As they say, people buy from people. Having the opportunity to meet the team upfront will help open the lines of communication in the weeks, months and years to come. This will help ensure relationships are not single threaded and that you understand who is involved, the role they will play, and how they are defining success personally through the lens of the partnership.
By shifting to this discussion as your first engagement with your customer, you’re guaranteed to change the nature of your partnership. Remember, you only have one chance to make a first impression.