Get Customers to Value Quickly with Onboarding & Success Playbooks: Tips from Startup CS Leaders
Startups thrive or die because of two things: revenue and customer growth.
Customer success sometimes gets sidelined compared with the constant focus on signing new business and hitting revenue targets. But after spending so much time and effort to win new customers, why wouldn't you do everything in your power to make sure they’re as successful as possible?
If you don’t get users to value quickly on your product, you’ll struggle to retain them – not to mention lose out on expansion opportunities and referrals.
The secret to creating a seamless, repeatable onboarding experience and getting customers to value quickly: playbooks.
We hosted a masterclass on Launching Customers Faster with Onboarding Playbooks, featuring top CS leaders:
- Tyler Chapman, Customer Success Lead at TruePlan
- Brandon Ramsey, Head of Customer Success at OnSiteIQ
Watch the masterclass and get the key takeaways below!
Q: What does it mean to have an onboarding & success playbook, and why is it required for a winning GTM strategy? 📚
A: Onboarding and success playbooks help your team:
Document what’s working and what’s not so you can iterate quickly
Building your processes involves experimentation, especially in a company’s early stages, or if you’re new to customer success. By keeping track of your observations and customer feedback, you won’t be guessing and can make improvements faster.
Easily share context with other team members
Everyone wears multiple hats at a startup, and you need to be able to get the rest of your team up to speed quickly. Documenting your onboarding process in one place and using a playbook for each deal enables your team to check in on progress and jump in to help when needed.
The same goes for your customers: if you’re working from a collaborative playbook, they can easily loop in other stakeholders on their team and share all the relevant resources.
Drive consistency across your customer experience
“Consistency is more important than perfection,” says Brandon. “If you can get a consistent program down, then you can improve it as you go and make it a better experience for everyone.”
Build trust and eliminate friction
Implementing a new product is a big undertaking for your customers, especially when there are multiple stakeholders involved. By clearly defining and communicating the steps to go-live, you’ll help lift some of the weight off their shoulders and eliminate any confusion about how to onboard successfully.
Q: At what stage should companies start implementing onboarding & success playbooks? 🌱
A: It’s never too early to start documenting your process!
The sooner you can start driving consistency through playbooks, the more it will help you in the long run.
The first thing Tyler did when she joined TruePlan was create a customer success playbook. “If you’re building something from the ground up, having a repeatable motion that you can iterate on as you grow is so important,” she says.
Q: How do you set expectations for customer engagement during implementation? 📅
A: Over-communicate, be up-front about the timeline, and hold each other accountable.
Set expectations at the beginning of the implementation process: agree on the timeline and what needs to happen for the customer to go live. Be clear on what both sides are accountable for during the process.
Tyler’s goal is to get new customers live on TruePlan within a month, so she keeps the momentum going by over-communicating, meeting at least weekly, and sharing all steps and resources up front.
Keep an eye on areas in your process where you’re at risk of losing momentum, and make changes to get ahead of it and ensure the customer stays engaged.
Q: What do CS leaders get wrong when it comes to building their processes? 🙅
A: Two common mistakes made by CS leaders:
Not getting buy-in and support at the executive level
When leadership doesn’t understand the importance of customer success, it makes getting the right tools for onboarding and launching customers much harder, Brandon says. Be sure you’re advocating for what you need to set customers up for a successful, long-term relationship with your company.
Not letting the people closest to customer conversations drive playbook creation
“Make sure your playbooks and processes are powered by the CSMs themselves,” says Tyler. The people talking to customers most often and hearing feedback should be the biggest drivers of process changes. When leadership or others who are too removed from customer conversations build the playbooks, it can create a disconnect.
Q: How do you continuously iterate on your playbook and keep it agile? ✍
A: A few ideas from Tyler and Brandon on identifying ways to improve:
- Check in with your team regularly on what they’re hearing from customers
- Hold playbook review meetings to discuss what’s working and what’s not
- Review the steps your customers added to your collaborative playbook, or the questions they asked during the process, and use it to help close the gap
- As you nail down your big process changes, experiment with smaller tweaks to improve one piece of the playbook (such as driving more customer engagement)
Q: What are the key success metrics CS leaders should track in early stage startups? 📈
A: Start with higher-level metrics early on and continue to build on them. Find early indicators of success with your product, and keep adjusting your playbook so you can replicate that success with new customers.
The goal is to find what gets customers to value or success with your product as fast as possible. Don’t wait a year to do an analysis on customer churn. Track whether customers are using your product consistently, and if not, find out why.
Qualitative information and surveys come in handy in the early stage as well, whether you use standard NPS surveys or something different. You can ask questions such as, “How happy are you with the product?” or “In the last 90 days, have you recommended the product to anyone?”
A few metrics you might track:
- Time to value – if customers aren’t seeing the value of your product early enough, or you’re taking too long to onboard them, you’ll miss out on the post-sale momentum
- Weekly/monthly active users – how many people are consistently using your product?
- Net Revenue Retention (NRR) – the gold standard!