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How is Customer Onboarding handled today?

Sai Arora

Most customer onboarding teams rely on tools they have on hand (think email, spreadsheets, or Gantt charts) to align stakeholders. These tools aren’t built for this task, leading to a subpar experience for the customer and huge operational overhead for onboarding teams. I’ve seen teams copy-pasting data from spreadsheets into internal systems, manually creating internal tickets, hand crafting weekly updates with screenshots of product dashboards, and chasing their customers with endless email follow-up. All tasks which can easily be automated by the right tools.

Imagine this scenario: After spending so much time and effort getting a customer to sign a contract, the first thing you send over to them is a spreadsheet detailing every step they need to take. Even worse, imagine sending them a link to 3rd-party products (like a project management solution) that they now have to create accounts in and learn how to use. You might create and send weekly status reports to keep everyone aligned, but things can slip through the cracks.

At first glance, this may not really seem like a big deal. After all, this is the way things have been done for the past 20 years or so! But if you take a step back and view this from a CX perspective, it starts to become pretty obvious how this results in a poor customer experience:. 

  • Not trackable: How do you track implementations across multiple spreadsheets with hundreds of customers? How do you know which elements of your onboarding process could be improved? 
  • Easy for things to get lost: Unless your team is composed of vigilant superhumans, it quickly becomes impossible to keep 30-50 consecutive customer onboardings organized. 
  • Heavily dependent on individual heroics/vigilance. When your team is focused completely on doing things that don’t scale to provide your customer with a great experience, they’re not focusing on being perceived as proactive value-add advisors. 
  • Feels overwhelming to the customer. Your customers get conditioned to believe change-management with your product/brand/you is hard. Instead of viewing you as a value-add partner, they view you as another, replaceable vendor with a product that doesn’t quite hit the mark. 
  • High chance for user-error: No validation during data entry and manual processes leave you open to issues down the line that can impact renewal and expansion opportunities. 

Your customer buys your product because they want to solve their problems. Instead of delivering that pain-killing experience, they are greeted with more work! This becomes the foundational emotion they associate with your brand, your product, and your NPS score. Instead of feeling excited about using your product, they start to trend into the “trough of disillusionment” increasing their chances of churning or renewing to smaller contract values. 

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