As much as this notification lightens up any SaaS owner's mood, the happiness remains short-lived with a bad customer experience. 

After you make a sale, your customers need to know how to use the interface quickly so they can get the most out of the product. And this responsibility is not on the person using it. You must find ways for your customers to easily reach their "aha moment" without feeling stupid. 

Customer onboarding playbook

This cannot be done with just kick-off meetings or do-it-yourself tutorials. Customers today expect businesses to help them derive value and hit the ground running. In fact, 42% of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. To help achieve customer success faster, you must create a customer onboarding playbook. 

A customer onboarding playbook lists the tasks, best practices, and steps that every customer must take to get the results they want. With information and options readily available, there is no room for error when it comes to customer success. 

If you don’t want your customers to churn out, then this blog will be your go-to guide. 

#1 What is a customer onboarding playbook? 

A customer onboarding playbook is a list of activities that customer success managers (CSM) do in a timeframe to help users reach the milestone for customer success. It's a bible for CSMs that tells them exactly what to do at what point to ensure that users are successfully adopting the product and finding value through it. 

Customer onboarding playbooks have a major role in customer success. It includes the workflows, processes, and frameworks needed to keep customers happy and make sure they don't leave. 

So how do you define customer success for your SaaS business? Even though the answer to this is quite specific, several stages of customer success will help you understand the customer's journey and how it aligns with the customer onboarding playbook.  

Customer success stages. Customer onboarding playbook

Each stage of this customer success journey requires a set of processes that customer success managers (CSMs) prepare according to the user's end goal. You can refer to this as a pre-built set of tasks that are assigned to a group of users at all stages to help them adopt and derive value from the product. 

Without this, your customers won't know what to do next, and if they can't reach their goals, they may cancel their subscriptions. No matter how good your product is, you will never be able to retain them and make them your advocates. 

#2 Why do you need an onboarding playbook? 

Customer acquisition and retention is an ongoing process that can't be put at risk under any circumstances. Onboarding playbooks are designed to help your customer success team track important success metrics, improve customer experience, and keep the customer's interaction with the product organized. 

If you are still looking for reasons to create your customer success onboarding playbook, here are some:

Standardize your customer success process 

 The only aim of having a customer success team is to help your users achieve their desired goals. But, doing this isn't easy. Customer service can easily become chaotic and unclear without a defined process. Playbooks make it less likely that someone will make a mistake and tell you exactly when and how to interact with your customers. 

Improve your customer retention rate 

 Retaining customers is super-important for every business's growth and success. Even a 5% increase in customer retention can increase your company's revenue by 25%. A customer engagement playbook lets you visualize your customer's entire journey with your product. It makes it easier for CSMs to find a way to give customers the best experience possible and help them figure out what the product is worth.  

Scale without losing sight of the customer experience  

Onboarding books define repeatable tasks that automatically start when you close a new customer. There is no hit and trial, internal chaos, or lack of accountability when you already have the list of events that need to be done next. You can also set up roles for your CS team ahead of time and automate many of these events to reduce any risk. This way, your business can easily scale without compromising the customer's experience. 

#3 Do you need multiple onboarding playbooks? 

A variety of audiences use your SaaS tool for various reasons. Each of your customers aims for a different outcome, and every outcome requires different playbooks. 

The onboarding playbook depends on the complexity of the product, its different usages, target customers, and ultimate goal for your CS team, like onboarding new customers, reducing churn, planning upgrades, trial sign-up to activation, or getting reviews. 

For instance, a large company will have a digital onboarding playbook for each customer tier, whereas a startup will have a playbook for onboarding beta testers. As the business grows, you must keep updating your onboarding playbooks with new customer segments and their end goals. 

To make sure your playbooks work well, you need to set the entry and exit points. 

Like your entry point for user activation, the onboarding playbook can be when the user signs up, and the exit point is when they reach the activation point. Your playbook is meant to guide the user from the point of entry to the point of exit through a set of steps that have already been planned.

How to create a customer onboarding playbook? 

Now that we have covered the basics of customer onboarding playbooks, it's time to create one for your SaaS tool. Here is the step-by-step process to do so:

1. Define your type of customer onboarding playbook 

The more complex your product is, the higher the chances that your customers will require more help. So, it's important to figure out what kind of onboarding playbook your customers need to reach their goals. There are two types of customer onboarding playbooks that you can select from:

Low-touch customer onboarding playbook (self-service)

Customer onboarding playbook. Low touch
Source: The Ultimate guide to Customer Onboarding

A low-touch onboarding process usually has little or no human contact with the customer. It's a full-service onboarding process where users can find all the information they need within the product itself. This includes sending welcome emails, interactive walkthroughs, resource centres, or self-help tutorials. Low-touch customer onboarding is best for products that are easy to use and have a fast learning curve. 

High-touch customer onboarding  (white glove)

High-touch onboarding is when your team spends more time talking with the customer and making sure that their needs are met. There will still be some automation, but it will be more likely to directly help customers. The high-touch onboarding playbook is good for a product or service that is very complicated and needs real-time interaction with the team. 

2. Identify elements to include in your onboarding playbook 

 The onboarding playbook usually has the following elements: 

  • Outcome: Define the ultimate goal of your customer that you are looking to achieve through the playbook.
  • Entry point: Determine the activities in the customer's journey that trigger the playbook.  
  • Exit point: It refers to the point where you want to take the user.  
  • Product adoption milestones: It includes the set of features that the customer has to use to achieve the desired results.  
  • Customer segmentation: Determine which groups of customers will benefit from the playbook.
  • Task: Pre-determine the tasks of the customer success manager to help customers achieve their goals. 
Customer onboarding playbook. Elements

3. Determine what your users are trying to accomplish 

Your customers would only benefit from the playbooks if you know what they are trying to accomplish. This means understanding your users' pain points and how they use your product to solve their problems. 

And, how can you get all of this information? Just by simply asking them. Don't make any assumptions; instead, trust what your customers say, even if it goes against what you think.

When onboarding your customers, integrate an interactive flow that asks simple, open-ended questions like "what are you trying to achieve through this product?" We are sure that you will get varied users with different backgrounds and demographics, which is helpful for customer segmentation. 

If you want to create an interactive onboarding flow, MarbleFlows should be your go-to solution. 

Using the information you've collected, you can tailor the process of getting a new user started with your product so that they can get the most out of it. You can use A/B testing to figure out which onboarding flow works best for your SaaS tool.  

4. Map out the customer's end-to-end journey 

The next step is to figure out the full onboarding journey of your customers so that your playbooks can help them reach their end goal. This will help us understand the user's experience with the product, their pain-points, and the pivotal “aha moment."  

Here is the steps to creating an end-to-end journey: 

  • Segment customers effectively through onboarding surveys and understanding their end goal.  
  • Map every touchpoint of your customer across your product to reach the desired results. 
  • Understand their "aha moment" where they first realised the value of your product. This is important because your playbook will try to reduce that time and reach product satisfaction faster.  
  • Identify the habit loop that makes them return to your product for more. This is now the selling point of your product. Your onboarding process will be based on making your customers reach that habit loop to give them sustained and repeated value. 
  • Besides this, also understand the missed opportunities or areas of improvement for a better customer experience. 

 5. Make playbook assets

So, now that you have figured out your customer groups, their ultimate goal, and their end-to-end journey, it's time to create some important playbook assets. This includes call scripts, email templates, presentations for customer calls, meeting agendas, or additional guides that must be sent out. 

The idea behind creating playbook assets is that when your CSM has a task to complete or is interacting with your customers, they don't have to waste time looking for resources. This ensures a quick turnaround for task completion and removes individual errors.  

6. Measure the success of your onboarding playbook  

After all these , if you don't measure your playbook success, you are most likely hitting in the dark. Metrics are essential to understand if your playbook is effective and in what areas it needs improvement. Metrics are important if you want to know if your playbook is working and where it needs to be improved. 

 If you don't know what metrics to measure, then here are some customer onboarding KPIs to consider: 

  • Time to Value (TTV)
  • Retention rate
  • Engagement rate
  • Activation rate
  • Free to paid app conversion rate

 Furthermore, you can set your goals and key results that you expect to achieve within a timeframe. You can then track your employee's performance on their task and the company's progress on the goal set. 

#4 Wrapping up

Onboarding playbooks are a big part of making sure that customers' experiences are in line with the end goal they are trying to reach. They spell out exactly what your customer service team should do at every point of contact with a customer.  

Creating an onboarding playbook isn't that hard; you just need to identify what success means to your customers, the steps required to succeed, and how you can make it easier for customers to achieve their desired results. 

Written by Rashi Jaitly.