An Effective Customer Onboarding Program Starts With These Efficiency Metrics

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Take a second to visualize the most perfect customer onboarding journey you can imagine.

Did you picture a value-filled process sans any friction points? It might seem like a dream, but it doesn’t have to be. However, it is impossible to realize a smooth, efficient onboarding experience if you don’t keep track of — and learn lessons from — leading and lagging indicators that matter.

We’re data people, right? We know that we can only improve what we measure. If you’re not keeping tabs on the details of your onboarding as it matures and evolves, you’ll be clueless about what’s going on, never knowing for sure what works and what doesn’t.

You can choose countless onboarding metrics to measure, but ease into this with just one or two. Otherwise, you’ll risk a gnarly information overload with all the collecting, analyzing, and leveraging of efficiency metrics. Our team recommends that you start by concentrating first on the following must-haves.

Onboarding Metric #1: Expected Versus Actual “Go Live” Time-to-Completion Rates

“How long will your onboarding take?” Most prospective customers will ask this if they haven’t already. Instead of beating around the bush, answer them! Impress your prospects by showing them real data based on past customer performance. After all, customer happiness comes when reality matches their expectations.

When you’re transparent from the jump, your customer is unlikely to care (or — even better — panic) about onboarding taking an extra week. On the flip side, if you both agree that onboarding will only take 30 days, but it takes twice as long, you ended that relationship before it even began.

So how do you come up with an onboarding timeframe estimation, especially considering that not all customers are the same? If you’re using OnRamp, you can see your average time-to-completion customer onboarding trends. You can even construct a delta analysis for each project that will show the variation between your initial “go live” expectation and your actual one. Treat significant deltas as red flags for future improvements to drive greater customer success.

Onboarding Metric #2: Bottlenecks

Fact: Onboarding can sometimes get delayed. But when it does, you need to vet the process. Look for where the delay is and why.

Have specific points in your customer onboarding roadmap become obstacles? Unless you’re looking for bottlenecks, you won’t know how to eliminate them. Maybe you have a product issue. Maybe you got wordy in some correspondence and should’ve provided more detailed, clearer instructions. Perhaps you didn’t properly set customer expectations, and now they have no clue where they are or what to do in the process.

The more you know how to zero in on delays, the faster you can iron them out.

Onboarding Metric #3: Amount of Elbow Grease Required

All onboarding programs and tasks require different levels of commitment and effort from customers. Finishing a simple five-minute survey is light-years away from spending time mastering a custom technical integration.

Give each project and individual task responsibility some kind of grade indicator, like on a scale of one to 10 or a T-shirt size. Tasks labeled “S” will take little time and effort, whereas those deemed “L” will need more work from customers. But spread those “XLs” and “XXLs” around if you can. This way, both your team and customers can more accurately plan the capacity needed from everyone at each onboarding stage — and no one’s tripping over someone else’s task list.

BONUS Onboarding Metric: How Unique Is Each Customer?

Okay, sure, this certainly isn’t a starter metric, which is why we didn’t include it in our top three. Nevertheless, it’s clearly worth discussing.

At OnRamp, we often hear the phrase: “Every one of our customers is unique.” Okay, but is it true, though? How do you even quantify “unique?”

Don’t worry about an answer. We’ve got one for you.

Using Playbooks as a base, you can modify your projects for each customer, and OnRamp tracks how “custom” each project becomes. If the percentage of customizability is high, you’ll probably want to commit more humans to the process, charge more for services, and/or be more consultative. If it’s on the medium to low end, you can have each CSM take on more work or find other ways to automate certain milestones. You’ll celebrate the individuality of your customer base while maintaining efficiency.

Engaged, satisfied customers stay loyal, buy more, and refer others. Start your relationship strong with the onboarding metrics you need to turn customers’ — and your — dreams of success into a reality.

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