Published by Cloë Mareck - January 10, 2019

Secrets to successful customer onboarding meetings

How to make sure your Customer Success Managers are prepared so their implementation calls are more effective (templates included).

Customer onboarding

Your company has just signed a new account. The sales demo was enough to prove the value of the product, and now the customer is ready to reap the benefits—only they don’t know where to start.

New customers are often confused about getting their team set up or how to access the features they need to accomplish their goals. That’s when the account management team steps in to sweep them off their feet and lead them to, well, success.

The customer’s knowledge of the product relies entirely on the training they receive, so it’s critical that your CSMs (Customer Success Manager) are prepared for their calls. After the handoff from sales to support, the Customer Success Manager needs to hit the ground running and get the user on an onboarding call – right away.

We’ve compiled our top tips for prepping your Customer Success team before their first onboarding calls:

Schedule the kickoff call ASAP

The moment the sale is closed, your Customer Success Manager should be getting an onboarding or training call on the user’s calendar. At this stage, they should already be in touch with the account. Minimizing the downtime before customers get ramped up will increase the likelihood of activation and prevent them from dropping off. Simply put: schedule a screen share ASAP. If more than one call is needed, push hard to get the next one on the calendar before the end of the first. Always keep things moving towards adoption.

Subject line: Schedule your onboarding today!

Hi Sally,

I’m so excited to help your team get started using (your company’s product). To get the ball rolling, let’s get a meeting on the calendar for an onboarding screen share. Here’s my link to schedule: calendly.com/yourschedulinglink

What to expect from our session:

  • Understand your goals
  • Discuss your workflow
  • Walk through your account discussing possible customizations

To start learning on your own:

  • (include help guides or links to videos)
  • (include help guides or links to videos)
  • (include help guides or links to videos)

Looking forward to getting your team up and running!

Share your expertise, share your screen

Screen shares are the most efficient way to teach a customer how to maneuver through your product or software. Seeing you go through the steps to set up within their own account will help the training stick.

Once you’ve covered the basics, pass them the reins and instruct them to share their screen with you while you talk them through the features they’ll be using most often. Services like Zoom or GoToMeeting offer audio and video conferencing with the option to record a call. Find the platform that suits your CSMs and their training styles the best, but be sure that you’re able to record the call to include in your follow-up with the customer.

Especially when training a large team, it’s unlikely that every member will be able to attend. Providing a recording gives them an opportunity to distribute the training to anyone who couldn’t attend, or to review if they have questions.

Ditch the script

We encourage you to throw away any rigid scripts used during onboarding calls.

In a world of increasing automation, bringing back the human touch can make a big impact. It is important to continue the relationship with the customer that your sales team initiates and build on that momentum.

How do you do that when each account is different and their workflows vary? Use a standard skeleton checklist of administrative tasks that all users need to know, then focus the training around only the features they need to accomplish their specific goals.

Explaining every feature may cause information overflow, and you may lose them along the way. If your sales team has done their due diligence, they should provide the CSM with detailed notes from the sales process, dating back to their discovery call. Knowing the customer’s goals ahead of time can help create the outline of what needs to be discussed during onboarding, including:

  1. Establish the goal for the end of the call to help you build your outline.
  2. Cover the framework of the account, any administrative tasks to complete for customizing their settings and show examples of the functionality that they’re seeking to utilize.
  3. Avoid setting their account up for them, but walk them through the steps to accomplish what they need.

Here is a sample onboarding call skeleton script:

Introduction
– Set expectations for the call
– Gather any remaining use case details

*BEGIN CALL RECORDING*

Account Settings
– Creating an account
– Where to locate their settings

Managing Users
– How to add/remove users
– How to edit user accounts

Features pertaining to their goal
– Features for individuals
– Features for teams

Integrations
– Applicable integrations

Support resources
– Help Center
– Community
– Contacting support or account manager

Questions

What to look for in a CSM

Customer Success Managers come from a variety of different backgrounds. It’s a natural evolution for those working in support, account management or sales. The role requirements will vary depending on your company’s product, but there are a few key characteristics that any good CSM should have. They must be…

  • Proactive When the sales deal is nearing its close, the CSM should be on top of the account status. They need to take the initiative to get an onboarding call on the calendar and promptly follow-up with them to guarantee their success with the product. Scheduling regular check-ins throughout the year can initiate upsells or lock-in renewals at the end of the contract.
  • Trustworthy CSMs need to be able to foster a trusting, transparent relationship with their customers. It allows users to feel advocated for, heard and considered. They like knowing they have a contact at HQ and making them feel valued paves the way for invaluable feedback.
  • Agile If a customer asks a question that the CSM can’t answer, they should remain in control of the call. Instead of saying I don’t know, they can use language like That’s a great question! Let me do some research and get back to you! or Let me loop in our support team who can answer that in more detail for you. Having a strong bond with colleagues in other departments will come in handy here.
  • Collaborative Whether it’s helping the sales team close a deal, working with marketing on an educational webinar series or delivering user feedback to the product team, Customer Success Managers need to maintain sound relationships across the company to serve their accounts better.
  • Empathetic Creating a learning environment in which users feel comfortable asking questions makes training more effective. The CSM has to apply their tool to whatever personal use case the customer has. The goal is always driving towards adoption, and a CSM who is patient and an active listener can make the difference.
  • Forward-thinking By the time a CSM has a customer on the phone, they should already be familiar with their use case. A new user may not have explored enough to realize how much they can get from your product, but that can all be unlocked during onboarding. The training should cover the features they asked for when they signed up, and the ones they didn’t know they needed. CSMs should be so well-versed in the product that they can predict what workflows will lead to the best results for their customers.

Even with hours of preparation, an impeccable call outline and a friendly rapport with the customer, training calls are doomed to fail if the CSM doesn’t have expert product knowledge. A good Customer Success Manager should, at the very least, go through the same product training that a member of the support team would. They need to have an in-depth understanding of the general functionality of the tool, allowing them to imagine new and innovative ways to apply it to any use case a customer can throw at them. You never know what types of questions will come up, and in-depth knowledge of the product allows your team to be agile and ready for anything.

Onboarding can make or break the chances of a customer successfully adopting your company’s product. At the end of the day, a training call is only as good as the CSM or AM leading it. With a team that’s confident in their knowledge of the product, a timely cadence in calls and a training that only covers the need-to-know information, your onboarding is destined to stick.

The nature of Customer Success is going above and beyond, all the time. Make sure that your team embodies that value. Your customers will see that you aren’t just selling a product; you’re providing a service backed by a team who is as dedicated to their success as they are.