avoid customer dark alleys with onboardingA guest post by Donna Weber, President of Springboard Solutions and Principal of KickStart Alliance.

As soon as the deal closes, your customers start groping in the dark. They dive into the technical weeds of implementing your product and end up lost down a dark alley. Seeking refuge, they desperately log support tickets, which your support team frantically tries to resolve, all because customers don’t know which direction to point. They shouldn’t be down that dark alley in the first place.

Avoid those dark alleys with quick wins. Quick wins are an important element of an orchestrated onboarding program. They start customers down a well-lit road and provide benefits for both customers and customer facing teams. 

What are quick wins?

quick: fast in development or occurrence; a quick succession of events

win: to succeed in arriving at a place or a state

With quick wins you rapidly guide customers to value in your product, even when the product isn’t fully implemented. When you chunk the implementation process into achievable components, you have a quick win. ServiceSource emphasizes that speed is of utmost importance during this time. This is because when customers don’t see results in the first 90 days, and especially the first 30 days, their renewal likelihood drops to as low as 10%.  So, what happens when your product takes longer than 30 or even 90 days to set up? 

I had exactly that challenge at a previous company. The product, a complex analytic tool embedded into customers’ software, took six, nine, even 12 months to implement. How are you supposed to have a renewal discussion when the software isn’t even implemented yet? The answer: quick wins. Quick wins include clear deliverables to keep customers on track during the onboarding and implementation journeys. This means less wandering down dark alleys. 

When I shared this concept with a company I work with, they announced, “This is great. We’ll get customers to log in for our quick win.” Logging into your product is not a quick win. I learned from Mikael Blaisdell at SuccessCon West, that customers buy software for these three reasons: one, to save money; two, to make more money; and three, to align with regulations. So, while your product is likely incredible, I doubt customers save or make money just by logging in. Instead think about their use cases and goals. Reports and dashboards often provide immediate value, helping users make better business decisions; and automated workflows save time and money. 

When do quick wins occur?

Insert quick wins into the orchestrated onboarding journey. They belong after you nail the handoffs and before the implementation begins. I usually like to discuss quick wins during the kickoff or onboarding meeting. Review the options with customers and determine together which is most appropriate to work towards.

How to build quick wins

Rather than randomly picking an achievement, like navigating your product, listen to what’s important to customers. Find out the milestones and results they want and need in those first 10, 30, 60, and 90 days. You might provide a menu of quick wins that align with each customer segment or to unique use cases. You might have several quick wins along the implementation process, especially if it’s a long one. Your quick wins can also align with 10, 30, 60, and 90 day milestones.

Rather than randomly picking an achievement, like navigating your product, listen to what’s important to customers.

Start with one quick win and pilot it with a small group of new customers. Find out from them what worked and what needs to improve, then create assets and playbooks to make that approach as scalable as possible. Next, develop other quick wins, building on what you learned from the first one. Once you define quick wins, then work with Customer Education and Support teams to produce self-paced and instructor led content to guide customers to their quick wins. Now you have a solution that has impact.  

Examples of quick wins

To illustrate, here are a few examples. A company I talked to works with large property managers to build workflows for cleaning and renting their properties. Loading properties into the software can be time consuming and difficult. Rather than waiting for a customer to load all their properties into the system, I suggest they create a quick win to add one property into the system.

To facilitate this process, create quick-start guides and self-paced training to bring customers to a successful result without Customer Success Managers (CSMs) holding their hands. This means CSMs stay in the strategic zone. Once the first property is loaded, the CSM and customer review it together and determine the next milestone to aim for. Another example is from working with my client that thought logging in was a quick win. We determined that not just reports, but automated alerts generated from reports, would provide the most benefit quickly; that became the first quick win.

And finally, at my previous company, since the implementation was a long process, setting up a demo environment to highlight key functionalities that were most valuable to the customer’s project was our first quick win.

Quick wins benefit both customers and the teams supporting them. Customer implementation teams get to show off their progress to internal teams and to stakeholders. This means they look good and celebrate successes along the way. Quick wins give them immediate satisfaction for buying your product which means their loyalty increases. You gain by keeping customers accountable, staying strategic, and avoiding unnecessary support tickets.

Quick wins are especially helpful when onboarding and implementations are long or complex. They break things down into achievable nuggets for teams to celebrate along the journey. What’s one quick win you can explore with customers this week? When customers feel accomplished right away in your product, you are on a well-lit road to customer loyalty and success.  


More about Donna

Donna Weber is President of Springboard Solutions and Principal of KickStart Alliance specializes in the post-sales Customer Success journey. With over 20 years of experience, she has a proven track record helping hi-tech firms create customers for life with customer onboarding, enablement, and education programs. Her clients range from startups to well-established large companies, with a focus on the open source and SaaS arena. Colleagues know Donna as a leader who makes a difference. When she’s not springboarding customers to success, you might find her white water kayaking the rivers of California and beyond.

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