Reduce Churn, Boost Retention: Onboarding for Customer Success

Boost customer retention with expert tips on customer success processes and smooth onboarding.


Customer success processes nurture customer relationships over time. Onboarding ensures customers see value in your product right away. 

If you nail the two processes, you'll boost customer retention and reduce expensive churn. However, executing a smooth customer success process and onboarding experience isn't easy without a plan.

That's why this blog is here. We’ll simplify the steps for customer success and provide a roadmap for a seamless onboarding journey. 

What Is Customer Success?

Customer Success Managers training a new customer on their product, Onboarding for Customer Success

Customer success involves a hands-on, proactive approach to ensuring customers are happy and satisfied with your product or service.

Instead of waiting for customers to raise issues, you anticipate their challenges or questions and provide solutions before problems arise.

This focused customer care boosts satisfaction and retention. When you prioritize your customers' success, they stay longer and are more loyal.

Fast-growing companies are 21% more likely to prioritize customer success over stagnant ones. This data shows customer success can drive sustainable revenue growth.

The Customer Success Process

Running a business involves more than creating products and services. You should also ensure customers gain lasting value from those products through a straightforward customer success process.

Customer Success Managers (CSMs) are your behind-the-scenes champions. They partner with your customers throughout their journey.

What do they do? Let's break down the customer success process.

High-Level Customer Success Process for Enterprise

The customer success journey is typically more comprehensive and hands-on for enterprise customers. Here are the typical stages:

1. Onboarding & Implementation

Once a customer signs on, your CSM takes over from the sales team. They'll guide them through in-depth training, ensuring they're comfortable using all the features of your product or service.

This initial hand-holding sets the foundation for the customer's long-term success. Comprehensive training prevents issues down the road from improper setup or usage.

2. First 90 days of Adoption

This period is about close collaboration. Your CSM will monitor how customers use your product, answer their questions, share best practices, and ensure they're on track to achieve their goals with your offering.

This window is when customers decide if they made the right purchase decision. Hands-on guidance from your CSM gets them over initial hurdles and instills confidence to realize value.

3. Ongoing Nurturing

This stage is about fostering a lasting relationship with your customer through various strategies:

Regular Check-ins: Monthly conversations address issues and keep things running smoothly.

Quarterly Reviews (QBRs): In-depth discussions about their progress, challenges, and future plans.

Feedback & Updates: Gathering customer feedback helps you improve your product and keep them informed about new features.

Success Monitoring: Tracking metrics ensures they get the most out of your product or service.

Growth Opportunities: Exploring ways to expand their product usage or discover additional services to benefit their business.

4. Upcoming Renewal

As the contract nears its end, your CSM will guide them through the renewal process, sometimes in collaboration with the sales team. Your CSM should address potential roadblocks and highlight your product's ongoing value.

5. Renewal Won/Lost

The customer success team tracks whether the customer renews their contract (a win for both of you!) or decides to move on, which your CSM will try to prevent.

High-Level Customer Success Process for Transactional

For transactional or smaller customers, efficiency is the name of the game. You want to create a streamlined process that doesn't require too many manual touchpoints.

Focus on nailing the onboarding upfront so customers don't get stuck or frustrated. This prevents customer success fires from popping out later.

Be smart about when to use an actual person versus automating communications. You'll need a mix of both high-touch and automated outreach.

1. Onboarding & Implementation

Like the enterprise process, this kicks off with onboarding tutorials, training, etc. Comprehensive onboarding is still table stakes. 

Getting new users up to speed with your product through hands-on training ensures they understand how to leverage all the core features and capabilities to find value quickly.

2. Transition to Customer Support or Account Manager

After onboarding, transactional customers get handed off to regular support or a lightweight account manager.

While high-touch onboarding is crucial upfront, continuing that level of high-touch service long-term for smaller accounts is not cost-effective. 

Transitioning them to your regular support channels or a more lightweight account manager helps you scale your operations efficiently. However, the customer still has resources to turn to for any ongoing needs.

3. Active Ongoing Customer Success Metrics Tracked in CRM

From here, you track the customer's activity and behavior in your CRM system. There are two paths.

If they seem stuck or unhappy based on their metrics, the account manager contacts them. They investigate what's going on and work to remove any blockers.

If they successfully adopt the product as expected, it moves to more automated ongoing nurturing.

Nurturing can include marketing and automated check-in emails, notifications about new features, upsells, satisfaction surveys, etc.

You should keep a pulse on customer health through smart automation and data. Account managers can step in to course-correct when needed.

Finding it hard to visualize the Customer Success Process? Check out our infographic: [Infographic]

Why You Need Smooth Onboarding for Customer Success

The onboarding process is make-or-break for new customers. What are the top two reasons they churn? Not understanding your product or not seeing value from it.

Onboarding nurtures new users from day one to avoid these issues. It's the guided journey to get them comfortable and successful with your offering.

When done well, onboarding makes life easy. Customers have the info they need at their fingertips. They can smoothly adopt your product and start trusting your business.

Yet a complicated onboarding will quickly drive around 74% of potential customers away. Streamlining this early stage is crucial for customer success.

The Customer Onboarding Journey

Customer Success Manager onboarding a new customer, Onboarding for Customer Success

First impressions matter, especially when it comes to new customers. Their onboarding experience shapes how they view your product or service and sets the stage for long-term success. 

Here's how to create a winning onboarding journey for your transactional customers:

1. Transition

The sales rep shouldn't disappear after the sale. Instead, they should introduce the customer to the onboarding team with a personal touch. 

Imagine an email that says: "Thanks for choosing us! Karen from our onboarding team will be your guide to ensure you get the most out of this service."

The customer will feel assured that their relationship is valued beyond the transaction. This will maintain continuity and trust as they transition to a new contact person.

2. 1st Onboarding Meeting

The first onboarding meeting isn't just about introductions. Dive deeper!  

Ask the customer about their specific goals and challenges. What are they trying to achieve? Ask them to define "success" for them. You should know their goals so you can meet them together.

For example, a marketing customer might define success as generating 50 qualified leads per month. Use this information to create a personalized onboarding plan with clear milestones to track progress.

3. 2nd Onboarding Meeting

The second onboarding meeting is for hands-on learning. Don't just talk about features—show them!  Walk the customer through setting up core features using their real-world accounts.  

For a CRM system, this might involve demonstrating how to import contacts, log activities, and set up email templates. Use screen sharing to guide them step-by-step.

Contextualized, interactive training accelerates the "aha" moment when users truly understand how to apply the product to their needs. They make the mental connection between the features and their own processes.

4. Follow-Up Email

People learn best by doing, but sometimes, a little reminder goes a long way. 

After each onboarding session, send a follow-up email with a video recording of the session and annotated screenshots summarizing each step. 

Include any remaining tasks for them to complete before the next meeting, like uploading a contact list.

Reinforcing the training with documentation embeds the knowledge more concretely. It gives customers resources to reference anytime, increasing their chances of successful adoption. The action items also help them practice.

5. 3rd Onboarding Meeting

Customer Success Manager checking a customer’s progress, Onboarding for Customer Success

The third meeting is about checking progress and troubleshooting. Did they run into any obstacles? 

Provide additional training and examples tailored to their specific needs. For instance, show a marketing customer how to create optimal email templates specific to their industry. 

This is also a good time to explore potential upsell opportunities for products or services that can further enhance their success.

If you discover that the marketing customer struggles with sending emails as they scale, you may recommend upgrading to a higher tier with more email automation capabilities.

6. Wrap up Meeting

At the final meeting, the customer should be comfortable using the core functions independently. Test their knowledge!  Run through realistic scenarios using your product and have them practice applying their skills. 

For example, a customer using a support tool might demonstrate how to route and resolve a sample ticket.

Putting them in the driver's seat lets you validate their proficiency while identifying any remaining knowledge gaps to address. You can ensure they can be fully self-sufficient after onboarding, maximizing their chances of success.

7. Final Follow-Up Email

The onboarding journey shouldn't end after a few meetings.  Provide a central hub of resources like best practice guides, FAQs, and video tutorials they can access anytime. 

It shows them you care about their long-term growth and capabilities with your product. It cements your company as a trusted partner.

Introduce them to their new technical account manager and customer support channels for further assistance.

8. Ongoing Nurturing

The secret to long-term customer retention is staying connected. 

Set up triggered email campaigns that share helpful tips, success stories from other customers, and announcements about new features to keep them engaged and learning more about your product over time.  

For example, consider sending quarterly newsletters highlighting success stories from "power users" in their industry.

Prioritizing Customer Success for Sustainable Growth

Customer acquisition is just the start. True growth comes from building loyalty and maximizing customer value through a seamless onboarding and ongoing customer success process. 

Remember, happy customers are your biggest advocates. Investing in their success isn't just about retention; it's about nurturing a loyal community that fuels organic growth through positive word-of-mouth and referrals.

Think of it as an investment in your future. Prioritizing customer success paves the way for your business success.

Simplify Your Customer Success Strategy With This Infographic

Are you juggling different customer success approaches for different client types?  No worries!  This infographic from Lunas breaks down the essential steps for managing Enterprise and Transactional Customer Success.

Download the "Enterprise & Transactional High-Level CS Process" infographic.

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