Growing Expansion Revenue with Customer Onboarding Mastery

Usha Vadapalli
November 8, 2023

It might seem counterintuitive, but focusing on smaller deals upfront can be the key to rapid growth in this economy. It's not about downsizing your clientele; it's about closing smaller deals initially within your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and then expanding. If you are reevaluating your strategy, now’s the time to think about expansion revenue for your SaaS business.

Customer onboarding becomes the linchpin here. It’s a strategic imperative for expansion revenue. Building the best customer onboarding process ensures that these smaller deals turn into satisfied, engaged customers. It's about nurturing their initial experience, understanding their unique needs, and demonstrating the full potential of our offerings. Through personalized communication, proactive support, and a deep understanding of their goals, we don't just secure a deal for today but sow the seeds for a long-term partnership.

How’s Customer Onboarding Different Than User Onboarding?

User onboarding in product-led growth businesses aims to showcase the basic functionalities and create initial engagement. The focus is on demonstrating the product's potential and encouraging users to explore further. Whereas, customer onboarding should ideally be focused on value realization. It guides paying customers to achieve specific outcomes and goals that align with their business objectives. The emphasis is on ensuring customers fully understand how the product addresses their unique pain points and adds significant value to their operations.

User onboarding experiences are often standardized and cater to a broad audience. For better retention and expansion, you can’t onboard your paying customers the same way as your free users. Why? Because:

  1. Different Expectations: Paying customers have invested in your product or service and, naturally, have higher expectations. They expect to receive additional value and support compared to free users. Customizing onboarding experience to address these expectations demonstrates that you value their investment, increasing their satisfaction and the likelihood of retention.
  2. Maximizing Product Value: Customers often have access to premium features or services. Effective customer onboarding focuses on showcasing these advanced features, helping them understand how to leverage these tools fully. By demonstrating the full extent of what they’ve paid for, customers are more likely to continue their subscription, knowing they are getting the most value out of their investment.
  3. Building Relationships: Customer onboarding is not just about features; it's also about building relationships. Paying customers benefit from a more personalized, human touch. Engaging with them through personalized emails, one-on-one training sessions, or dedicated customer success managers fosters a sense of trust and loyalty. These relationships are pivotal for customer retention and expansion opportunities through upselling or cross-selling.
  4. Addressing Pain Points: You certainly know more about your customers and their pain points than your free users. Tailoring the onboarding experience for unique use cases allows you to address their individual pain points directly. By providing targeted solutions during onboarding, you enhance their product experience and mitigate potential obstacles, you will accelerate product adoption.
  5. Encouraging Upselling: For businesses offering tiered subscription models be it per seat or usage, customer onboarding presents a great opportunity to introduce customers to higher-tier features. By showcasing these features during onboarding and demonstrating their benefits, you can pique interest and improve the chances of revenue expansion.

Well-crafted customer onboarding ensures that paying customers are not just retained but are also engaged and satisfied. Satisfied customers are less likely to churn. The cost of retaining an existing customer is almost always lower than acquiring a new one, making this approach a sustainable growth strategy.

Best Practices for Customer Onboarding

Onboarding paying customers with a focus on faster product adoption, engagement retention, and expansion requires a more strategic and personalized approach compared to onboarding free users. Here are some best practices tailored for new customers:

Personalized Welcome

Your new customers might have gone through an onboarding experience once when they were trying out the product. But, that doesn’t mean they don’t get a welcome after converting. Sending personalized welcome emails or messages to new customers can make them feel valued from the beginning. And, welcome emails can be your foundation for forging a great customer relationship.

Assigned Customer Success Manager

Assign a dedicated customer success manager to your valued customer accounts. This ensures a direct point of contact for any queries, issues, or additional support they might need during their onboarding journey and beyond.

Interactive Onboarding Sessions

Conduct interactive onboarding sessions that can provide in-depth demonstrations of the product's advanced features, tailored to the customer's specific needs and use cases. This allows customers to experience the product and its capabilities for themselves.

Tailored Training Resources

Provide customized training materials and resources that align with the customer's industry or business goals. This could include industry-specific case studies, video tutorials, or guides showcasing how similar customers have successfully utilized your product. This works great for customers who prefer a low touch approach.

Progress Tracking

Implement progress tracking within the product, such as checklists and timely reminders to complete a task. Allow customers to see their progress to engage them while enabling a sense of accomplishment, reinforcing stickiness.

Regular Check-ins

Schedule regular check-ins with customers, especially during the initial weeks of onboarding. Send reminders, resources, schedule meetings that act as reminders to your customers to get the most out of your product. The check-in meetings can be used to gather feedback, address concerns, and ensure customers are getting the most out of your product.

Feedback Collection

Actively seek feedback from customers about their onboarding experience. Use surveys or direct conversations to understand their satisfaction level, identify areas for improvement, and gauge their overall sentiment.

This need not be a dedicated email. You can add a feedback request in the footer or with your signature on every email you send. You can also offer rewards for participating in an onboarding experience feedback survey over a Zoom call.

Onboarding Webinars and Workshops

Host onboarding webinars and workshops that cover various aspects of your product. Invite power users to share their best practices. This not only educates customers but also fosters a sense of community around your product.

Celebrate Milestones

Acknowledge customer milestones, such as their first successful use of a key feature or the completion of a specific task. Send congratulatory messages, offer small rewards, or provide exclusive access to premium features as a token of appreciation.

Post-Onboarding Support

While there might be help resources available, personalized support is often not viable for free users. Robust post-onboarding support is a hallmark of customer onboarding. Customers might have questions or encounter challenges as they continue to explore your product. Offer ongoing support after the initial onboarding period. Prompt and effective post-onboarding support can significantly impact customer retention.

Gather and Share User Stories and Testimonials

Encourage satisfied customers to share their success stories and testimonials. These positive experiences can be used in your marketing efforts and also serve as social proof, instilling confidence in new customers during the onboarding process. Share some of the relevant case studies with your new customers and prospects.

If you have landed a deal with one division or org of a large enterprise, you can also make a testimonial or case study about them to share with other divisions of the same enterprise. This is a great upselling strategy.

Wrapping Up

In essence, customer onboarding becomes our secret weapon for crafting sustainable growth. By focusing on the immediate needs of our clients and ensuring their successful onboarding journey, we set the stage for expansion revenue. These satisfied customers are less likely to churn and become your best advocates, driving referrals and organic growth. It’s not just about closing deals; it's about building relationships that stand the test of time, making customer onboarding not just a process but a cornerstone of our revenue expansion strategy.

If you are thinking about revamping your customer onboarding, you should check out Inflection. Request a demo now.

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