How to increase the lifetime value of your customers
You finally go live with your product and officially conclude new customer onboarding. Right? Not necessarily. When users within existing accounts keep changing and your product keeps updating, you need to address the constant evolution. Consider an onboarding program that engages new users and drives value along the customer journey to ensure continuous value in your solution for customers and higher customer lifetime value for you.
The Expand stage
The Expand stage is the sixth stage of the Orchestrated Onboarding™ framework. Orchestrated Onboarding is a workable process that improves communication across internal teams as well as customers to ensure the renewal in the beginning of the customer relationship when it matters most. See an overview of the framework, below.
When you leverage Orchestrated Onboarding for the initial onboarding, you decrease new customer time to first value and increase customer loyalty when it’s most critical. Delivering ongoing onboarding ensures customers get continuous value from new features, new products, as well as from their new users.
While the Expand stage appears as the sixth and last stage in onboarding, the framework is an ongoing loop because there are always new people to onboard, new products and features to drive value to, and increasing levels of customer maturity. When you design an ongoing onboarding program, you increase product adoption, product usage, and customer engagement.
Onboarding accounts versus users
Consider the difference between onboarding a new account versus onboarding the people who will use your software. Likely a new account includes one-off events like customizing and branding your product, integrating it with other systems, and setting a go-live date. While you celebrate when an account is officially launched, this is just the beginning of user adoption. Users are the actual people who employ your product to do their jobs. They may be end users, business users, administrators, analysts, and developers. They might use your product once a day, all day every day, or just once a year. Since many industries experience high turnover, you better make sure all those new people know how to use your product.
Functional guidance guides each user type, or role, to their desired outcomes. For best results, emphasize how people do their jobs using your product, rather than giving them a friendly interface tour. See Chapter Thirteen in Onboarding Matters to learn how to scale customer enablement and, ultimately, Customer Success.
Onboarding existing product updates
Every time your product updates, each person using it needs to master the new features. You want customers to keep gaining value in your product, so it’s important to find scalable ways to drive adoption of those new features your product teams worked so hard to roll out.
Webinars are a great way to get the message out, especially since you can record them for access on demand.
You can also create delta courses and content to get the people using your software up to speed on new product releases. Delta content focus on the differences between one release and the next, so you don’t need to keep recreating the same general content for every new piece of enablement content you create. As with any new product, you want people to see value in new features and functions quickly.
Onboarding new products
New products require you to drive customers to get both initial and long-term value. Connect with the product team to build enablement content while the product is in development, then make it available as soon as the new release goes live. Be certain to include content that helps users understand why they need this new product and where it fits within your product suite or platform. When enabling people, it’s always important to emphasize how it makes their lives easier and not just what the product does.
Onboarding new divisions within existing accounts
Do you sell your product into new departments within existing accounts? For example, perhaps you initially sold your product into one division of a multinational company. Now they want to expand adoption to other territories.
When expanding the number of users to an existing product implementation, focus on the needs of user onboarding and adoption. However, if each new department has different objectives that require customizations unique to their business, treat it as new account onboarding and loop back to the Handoff stage of the Orchestrated Onboarding framework. Depending on the scenario, you may want to deploy an ongoing onboarding program that addresses the requirements of each new organization. I also urge you to build out playbooks and templates to consistently and quickly onboard new divisions.
Onboarding different phases of the customer lifecycle
Rather than throwing everything about your product to users at once, it’s helpful to define a customer maturity lifecycle, which details how customers adopt your product in different stages. Once you capture the path to customer maturity, your onboarding program needs to convey how you begin onboarding customers for basic use cases and then move to more complex cases as they increase their experience.
Most companies don’t address customer maturity as an ongoing process. A company with a rebate management platform reasoned they should show their users how to do the most difficult task first to ensure customers would figure out the more simple things moving forward. Well, that didn’t work. Instead, it caused onboarding to grind to a halt because customers were so overwhelmed. So, start with the basics, and then guide users to more sophisticated use cases as they use your product.
Despite your best efforts to onboard and enable new customers, the need for onboarding remains. Whether your customers are large or small, the Expand stage addresses new users in existing accounts, product updates, new products, new organizations in existing accounts, and customer maturity. Customers get continuous value from new features, new products, as well as from their new users, which increases the customer lifetime value for you.