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The Hidden Truth: Why Customer Experience, Onboarding, and Design Aren’t the Keys to B2B Growth

Introduction

In the competitive landscape of B2B software and services, effective onboarding and design are crucial elements for achieving successful adoption and enhanced customer experience. You may have noticed the provocative title—”The Hidden Truth: Why Customer Experience, Tech Onboarding, and Design Aren’t the Keys to B2B Growth.” I chose this title to draw attention to the often-overlooked complexities and the true value these elements bring to B2B success and CX. Despite the misleading suggestion (my apologies for the bait), this article will delve into how combining design, effective onboarding, and exceptional customer experience truly forms the backbone of a successful B2B growth engine.

We were helping to enhance the design and CX of two lines of B2B products at Samsung last year, specifically in the Samsung SDS and SDN products. Based on this experience and by reading the excellent book “Product-Led Onboarding” by Ramli John, we concluded that onboarding programs and even customer success divisions would not be necessary if companies had the ability to design the user experience, products, and services surrounded by an exceptional customer experience and great onboarding strategies in a much more intuitive and clear way for all kinds of mental models. As this is still a utopic desire, let us dive into our reality, and I hope you will find value in this new article for your company.

In the competitive landscape of B2B software and services, effective onboarding is a crucial element for achieving a successful adoption and customer experience. The impact of a well-designed onboarding process extends beyond the initial introduction of the product, significantly influencing key business metrics such as adoption rate, customer retention, loyalty, and revenue growth. This article explores the profound benefits of a comprehensive onboarding strategy and its essential role in fostering a positive customer experience, which in turn drives business success.

Despite the advancements in technology, many companies still struggle to design products that are intuitive and easy to understand. This lack of clarity necessitates the development of robust onboarding programs and the creation of customer success divisions to bridge the gap. Ideally, investing in better design from the outset could reduce the need for these additional resources, but the reality is that onboarding remains essential. Effective onboarding helps users quickly grasp the value of a product ROI, compensating for design shortcomings and ensuring a smooth transition into regular use.

The Hidden Truth: Why Customer Experience, Onboarding, and Design Aren’t the Keys to B2B Growth Share on X

Enhancing First Impressions

The first interaction with a product sets the tone for the entire customer relationship. An effective onboarding process helps create a strong first impression by ensuring that new users understand the value of the product quickly and effortlessly. This involves clear communication of benefits, user-friendly interfaces, and personalized experiences that cater to the unique needs of each client. For instance, providing tailored walkthroughs and quick-start guides can make users feel supported and valued from the outset. The initial phase should also include a welcome message that not only introduces the company but also highlights key features and benefits of the product. Utilizing video tutorials and interactive demos can also be instrumental in showcasing the product’s value proposition.

Driving Adoption Rates

Onboarding is pivotal in driving adoption rates of B2B products. When users are guided through the product’s core features and functionalities, they are more likely to integrate it into their daily workflows. Offering interactive demos, detailed documentation, and hands-on training sessions can significantly boost the likelihood of users fully adopting the product. Additionally, regular webinars and Q&A sessions can address common questions and provide deeper insights into advanced functionalities. It’s also beneficial to segment users based on their roles and provide role-specific training and resources, ensuring that each user group can maximize the product’s potential in their specific context.

Boosting Retention

It is not enough to acquire a new technology or to sell it. Retention rates are a direct measure of how well a product meets user expectations and needs. Effective onboarding ensures that users are equipped with the knowledge and skills to use the product effectively, reducing frustration and preventing churn. Continuous engagement through follow-up training, regular check-ins, and proactive support can keep users engaged and satisfied. Creating a feedback loop where users can share their experiences and suggestions for improvement can also be valuable. Implementing in-app messaging and notifications to guide users through new features and updates helps in maintaining their interest and engagement over time.

Building Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty stems from consistent positive experiences with a product or service and in each interaction with your organization. A well-executed onboarding process contributes to this by providing ongoing value and support. When customers feel confident and competent in using a product, they are more likely to develop loyalty towards the brand. Loyalty programs that reward frequent users and those who advocate for the product can further enhance customer loyalty. Additionally, providing exclusive access to new features or beta programs for loyal customers can make them feel valued and appreciated, further strengthening their commitment to the product.

Generating Revenue

Revenue generation is intrinsically linked to the effectiveness of the onboarding process. By ensuring that customers quickly realize the value of the product, companies can drive upsells and cross-sells. Additionally, happy and successful customers are more likely to provide referrals, contributing to organic growth. Implementing a tiered onboarding process where premium customers receive additional support and resources can also encourage upgrades. Personalized recommendations for additional products or services based on user behaviour and needs can drive further revenue. Monitoring key usage metrics to identify opportunities for upselling and cross-selling at the right moments is crucial for maximizing revenue potential.

Increasing ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue)

Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) is a critical metric for subscription-based B2B companies. Effective onboarding can boost ARR by minimizing churn and encouraging customers to upgrade their subscriptions. By continuously demonstrating value and providing exceptional support, companies can secure long-term commitments from their customers. Offering incentives for long-term contracts and providing regular updates on new features and improvements can also encourage customers to stick with the product. Additionally, implementing a robust renewal process with timely reminders and personalized offers can help in retaining customers and increasing ARR.

Ensuring Customer Success

Customer success is a core objective of any onboarding strategy. By equipping users with the tools and knowledge they need to achieve their goals, companies can foster a sense of achievement and satisfaction. This involves not only initial training but also ongoing support and education. Providing a dedicated customer success manager who can offer personalized assistance and monitor customer progress can be highly effective and ensure renewals. Regularly scheduled check-ins to discuss progress, address challenges, and provide additional resources can ensure that customers continue to find value in the product. Creating a customer success community where users can share their experiences and learn from each other can also contribute to overall success.

Streamlining User Experience

A seamless user experience is essential for the success of any onboarding process. This includes designing intuitive interfaces, minimizing friction points, and providing clear, concise instructions. A positive user experience encourages continued use and satisfaction, ultimately leading to higher retention and loyalty. Conducting usability testing and gathering user feedback during the onboarding process can help identify areas for improvement. Ensuring that the onboarding process is mobile-friendly and accessible across different devices is also crucial in today’s digital landscape. Providing a self-service portal where users can find answers to common questions and access resources on their own terms can further enhance the user experience. Additionally, offering methods and tools to support individual learning paths is important, as each person learns in a distinct way.

Leveraging Data and Feedback

Continuous improvement of the onboarding process is driven by leveraging data and user feedback. By analysing user interactions and gathering feedback, companies can identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to help customers adopt the entire solution instead of just parts of it. Utilizing analytics tools to track key metrics such as time to first value, feature adoption rates, and user engagement can provide valuable insights. Conducting regular surveys and user interviews can also help in understanding user needs and preferences. Creating a culture of continuous improvement, where feedback is actively sought and acted upon, can lead to a more effective onboarding process over time.

The Hidden Truth: Why Customer Experience, Onboarding, and Design Aren’t the Keys to B2B Growth Share on X

Case Studies from Leading B2B Companies

Europe

  • SAP: SAP has implemented a comprehensive onboarding process that includes personalized training and ongoing support, resulting in higher adoption rates and customer satisfaction. Their approach involves segmenting customers based on their industry and role, providing tailored training programs that address specific needs. SAP also uses a combination of self-paced online courses and instructor-led sessions to ensure that users have access to the level of support they need. For more details, visit SAP’s onboarding strategy.
  • Siemens: Siemens’ onboarding strategy focuses on providing tailored training and support, enhancing the user experience, and driving retention. They utilize a blend of e-learning modules, hands-on workshops, and one-on-one coaching sessions to cater to different learning preferences. Siemens also emphasizes the importance of continuous learning by offering advanced training sessions and regular updates on new features. More information can be found here.
  • Schneider Electric: Schneider Electric uses a structured onboarding program to ensure that customers fully understand and utilize their products, leading to increased loyalty and revenue. Their approach includes a comprehensive onboarding portal that provides access to a wide range of resources, including video tutorials, user manuals, and best practice guides. Schneider Electric also offers dedicated support teams to assist customers with any questions or issues they may encounter. Read more about their approach here.

North America

  • Salesforce: Salesforce’s onboarding process includes personalized setups and continuous training, which have significantly boosted adoption rates and customer loyalty. Their strategy involves a detailed needs assessment to understand each customer’s specific requirements, followed by a customized onboarding plan. Salesforce also provides access to a wealth of resources, including online training modules, live webinars, and a community forum where users can share insights and ask questions. For further reading, check Salesforce’s onboarding case study.
  • ServiceNow: ServiceNow employs a continuous onboarding approach that keeps users engaged through regular updates and advanced training. They offer a range of onboarding options, from self-paced online courses to personalized training sessions led by expert instructors. ServiceNow also provides a dedicated customer success manager to guide users through the onboarding process and ensure they achieve their desired outcomes. Details can be found here.
  • HubSpot: HubSpot offers extensive onboarding resources, including a knowledge base and customer success programs, fostering long-term relationships and loyalty. Their approach includes a combination of self-service resources, such as video tutorials and how-to guides, as well as personalized support through dedicated onboarding specialists. HubSpot also offers regular check-ins and performance reviews to help customers stay on track and achieve their goals. Learn more about their methods here.

Asia

  • Tata Consultancy Services (TCS): TCS uses a comprehensive onboarding strategy to ensure clients understand and effectively use their solutions, leading to higher retention and satisfaction. Their approach includes a detailed onboarding plan tailored to each client’s needs, with a focus on providing hands-on training and continuous support. TCS also leverages advanced analytics to monitor user progress and identify areas for improvement. Detailed information is available here.
  • Samsung SDS: Samsung SDS (Samsung SDS provides cloud and digital logistics services) focuses on personalized onboarding experiences to enhance user engagement and drive adoption rates. They offer a range of onboarding services, including customized training programs, one-on-one coaching, and interactive workshops. Samsung SDS also uses data-driven insights to continuously refine their onboarding process and ensure it meets the evolving needs of their customers.
  • Infosys: Infosys employs a robust onboarding process that includes detailed training and continuous support, resulting in increased customer success and loyalty. Their approach involves a combination of online learning modules, instructor-led training sessions, and ongoing support through a dedicated customer success team. Infosys also offers regular performance reviews and feedback sessions to help customers stay on track and achieve their goals. For more insights, visit Infosys onboarding solutions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, onboarding is a critical factor in shaping the overall customer experience and driving business success in the B2B software and services sector. A well-executed onboarding process not only enhances first impressions but also drives adoption, boosts retention, builds loyalty, and generates revenue. By focusing on user needs, leveraging data, and continuously refining strategies, companies can ensure that their products and services provide exceptional value, leading to increased loyalty and sustainable growth. The examples of leading B2B companies from Europe, North America, and Asia illustrate the tangible benefits of effective onboarding in achieving these goals. For more detailed analysis and strategies, visit the respective links provided.

Until tech companies can design products that are inherently easy to adopt, customer success will remain crucial for driving adoption, understanding, loyalty, retention, and renewals. I hope this makes sense. What do you think?

Want more practical articles? Connect with me or follow me on LinkedIn. Ricardo Saltz Gulko

Sources

 

About the Author:

Ricardo Saltz Gulko is the Eglobalis managing director, a global strategist, thought leader, practitioner, and keynote speaker in the areas of simplification and change, customer experience, experience design, and global professional services. Ricardo has worked at numerous global technology companies, such as Oracle, Ericsson, Amdocs, Redknee, Inttra, Samsung among others as a global executive, focusing on enterprise technologies. He currently works with tech global companies aiming to transform themselves around simplification models, culture and digital transformation, customer and employee experience as professional services. He holds an MBA at J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Evanston, IL USA, and Undergraduate studies in Information Systems and Industrial Engineering. Ricardo is also a global citizen fluent in English, Portuguese, Spanish, Hebrew, and German. He is the co-founder of the European Customer Experience Organization and currently resides in Munich, Germany with his family.
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