2019 Customer Success / Onboarding Survey
Section 4: Customer Onboarding
Customer Onboarding Software
This section is the second of the two main topics of the survey, covering customer onboarding.
The first question asked if organizations had a dedicated customer onboarding tool, and a majority (53%) had one in place. Many (24%) use more than one, usually software paired with Google Docs.
Though also a relatively new category, onboarding is more specific than the broader customer success category and that could account for the higher adoption rate.
As with customer success, we didn’t filter out any industries because all of them deliver services to users who could be considered customers.
Next we asked if an organization had a dedicated customer onboarding team.
The results were evenly split, with 48% saying they had a dedicated team, 48% saying they didn’t, and 4% saying they were considering adding one.
We also asked how many people are (or will be) on the customer onboarding team. The numbers tended to be on the small side, which could reflect on both the newness of the category and the effectiveness of the software tool(s) being used.
We then asked about tracking customer onboarding metrics.
66% of responding organizations have or plan to have customer onboarding metrics, with a majority (54%) already having them in place.
The metrics being used varied by industry, but 2 trends emerged:
- Metrics associated with measuring time spent or meeting a particular time goal
- Tracking satisfaction, either using NPS or by some other means (like a straight percentage for different measures)
Similar to the customer success self-evaluation, we asked how an organization rated itself for how it handled customer onboarding.
A majority of organizations rated themselves highly, with 55% coming in at a 4 or 5 (4–39%, 5–16%) and only 8% coming in low (2–6%, 1–2%). There was a strong correlation for companies that ranked themselves low (a 1 or 2) and not having a dedicated tool, with 75% of companies below a 2 not currently using an onboarding tool. For wider trends, the most common theme was the amount of mentions for the word ‘process’, with those scoring 4-5 mentioning it positively and those scoring 1-2 mentioning it in the context of a lack of process.
When we asked the mid to low performers, “What would it take for you to get to a ranking of 5 for customer onboarding effectiveness?” the main themes were (in order of mentions):
- Better processes
- Better tools/systems (this was mainly for companies without a current dedicated tool)
- More resources (as in personnel)
When asked to compare themselves to other organizations in their same industry, the results were fairly even and not as positive as those from the customer success portion of the survey. 39% of organizations rated their customer onboarding approach as above average, 35% companies rated themselves as average, and 26% rated themselves below average. Again, there was a correlation between those that rated themselves above average and those using a dedicated onboarding tool, with 67% of organizations using an onboarding tool saying they are above average.
A QUOTE FROM COMPANY WITH A 5 RATING
“We have completely tailored our onboarding process with TaskRay. It allows for repeatable processes and full transparency across the entire company.”
Similar to a customer success program, a customer onboarding process should evolve as your product(s) and customers evolve. But it’s good to benchmark, so we asked how organizations arrived at their current customer onboarding process.
42% said it took more than a year, while at the other end of the spectrum 4% said it is still an ongoing process.
Two-thirds of companies relied on internal research to create their process, and the common themes that emerged were:
- Many said it was by trial and error
- Many said it was an organic growth process
- Some were guided by a mix of industry best practices, external resources, and customer feedback
- Some said their process was still evolving
- A few said their process was shaped by available tools
SUMMARY: CUSTOMER ONBOARDING
A majority of organizations (53%) across all industries have a dedicated customer onboarding tool in place, a much higher number than the organizations with a program/tool for customer success.
Almost half (48%) of organizations have a dedicated customer onboarding team. That number is lower than the one for customer success, though they are both similar in that the teams are small in size when compared to overall company sizes.
Two-thirds of organizations (66%) track or plan to track metrics related to customer onboarding.
Similar to the customer success category, a majority ranked themselves highly (5–16%, 4–39%) on how they handle customer onboarding. When comparing themselves to other organizations in their industry, however, only 39% ranked themselves higher than their peers and 26% rated themselves below average. The results for comparing themselves within their specific industry were much lower than the results for customer success, indicating there could be a divergence of views in how organizations view the two categories.
The results from how organizations arrived at their customer onboarding process were analogous to the results for customer success, with 42% of organizations taking a year to put it in place and many relying mainly on internal research and an iterative, trial and error process.
When we asked organizations to take a moment to imagine the perfect process for customer onboarding, and what that would be like for customers and internal team members, the strongest trends were:
- Continual refinement
- Automating as many tasks as possible
Asked how they’d know they had succeeded in putting the ideal customer onboarding process in place, the most often mentioned topics were:
- Reduced onboarding time
- Short contract-to-go-live times and high adherence to SLAs
- Keeping staff level low and customer satisfaction scores high
- Decrease in churn
EXTRA INSIGHT: THE BEST ADVICE
We asked all respondents, “If you had to give advice to someone just starting to build their Customer Onboarding process, what would it be—in ten words or less? Here were the best answers.
“Keep it as simple as possible, automate where you can.”
“A scalable process is the most important. Consistency is key.”
“It’s iterative and will take 2-3 cycles to get right.”
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
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