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The Five Essential Principles of Orchestrated Onboarding™

While some companies jump on the Customer Success bandwagon with amazing speed, many still ignore their customers. It seems many teams are too busy planning and managing to consider their customers. I developed the Orchestrated Onboarding™ framework to ensure the renewal at the beginning of the customer relationship when it matters most. See an overview of the framework in the image, below.

While each stage of Orchestrated Onboarding is critical to dispensing value along the customer journey, harnessing the power of the Orchestrated Onboarding principles takes your onboarding to the next level. To produce the results you and your customers want and need consider these five vital principles of Orchestrated Onboarding: listening to customers, driving customers to value, measuring the impact, scaling customer onboarding, and selling premium packages. Leverage these compelling principles to help you innovate, prove your value, and deliver results for internal teams and your customers, all at scale.

Orchestrated Onboarding™ framework

1. Listen to customers

Isn’t it time you listen to your customers? Rather than building a customer onboarding approach designed from an internal perspective, I encourage you to lend an ear to existing customers. As you define, design, and build customer onboarding and customer-facing services and products, it’s imperative you listen and empathize.

I like to pick up the phone or schedule a short online meeting to learn from customers. Starting with a handful of recently onboarded customers, I ask the following questions and then listen.

  • What worked well?

  • What are your suggestions for improvement?

  • Tell me about a fabulous onboarding experience you had with another vendor.

  • What do you need to wrap up onboarding?

  • If you had a magic wand, what is the one thing you would change today?

  • What else do you think I should know right now?

2. Drive customers to value

The crux of onboarding is to supply value to new customers as swiftly as possible, so your new customers stick around for the long term. You don’t onboard new customers just to go live with your product. The reason people purchase products in the first place is to alleviate a pain or problem. Most likely they desire to save or make more money. They have requirements to be compliant or they long to reduce the time it takes to do their job. Providing value is most relevant at the beginning of the customer relationship when customers have high expectations of your product, and you have limited time to meet their expectations. Since customers want and need to obtain value, it’s your job to deliver it.

3. Measure the impact

It’s also up to you to demonstrate the impact your team has on your company’s business, including how you decrease churn, reduce internal costs, shorten the time to first value, and increase customer net retention.

Next, explore how your efforts impact that master metric. Dig into existing systems to uncover influence. Don’t waste time trying to prove causation or wait a year to show that onboarded customers have higher renewals. Instead, explore leading indicators like product usage, Net Promoter Score (NPS), customer health score, and customer engagement metrics to show a correlation between those measurements and your services. To highlight your influence, capture the state of the business before you implement new programs like customer onboarding. If a baseline doesn’t exist, take the time to put one in place so you measure and prove the impact of new customer onboarding programs.

4. Scale customer onboarding

I find this happening at most companies: CSMs roll up their sleeves to onboard and enable each new account. They show one user (or perhaps a handful of new users) how to log in to the software and then present a nice product tour. Unfortunately, this friendly and high-touch overview creates a predicament: You can’t scale.

One VP of Customer Success told me that while her team of CSMs helps new customers create their first campaign in their marketing product (through individual sessions), customers continue to require assistance from her team beyond that initial training session. As a result, her CSMs spend a great deal of face time aiding customers with every campaign they build. They are stuck in this repetitive cycle that keeps them in overwhelm and unable to proffer strategic guidance.

When it comes to customer enablement, there’s a huge opportunity to profit from the useful approach mastered by the professionals in Customer Education. Customer Education scales Customer Success in four ways: with a one-to many model and with offerings that are repeatable, role-based, and hands-on. Instead of directing each CSM do their own thing to enable customers, move content development responsibilities to one or a few team members that build consistent and re-usable content for the whole team. That’s how you make scaling a reality.

5. Deliver premium packages

There's no such thing as a free lunch, even in Customer Success. When you don't charge for customer onboarding and Customer Success, everyone suffers. Customers don't show up for their meetings. Your teams don't have the resources they need to give a great experience and drive customers to value. I recommend charging customer onboarding and Customer Success. When I work with companies whose customers pay a premium for onboarding and success services their customers show up for meetings, they're more accountable, and they partner for success. Since charging for Customer Success services is the gateway to your success and your customers' success, bundle all the best practices, tools, and services customers want and need into a premium package or "happy meal." I like to include onboarding services, a dedicated Customer Success Manager, the appropriate training, premium Support, and any other managed services that drive users to value quickly.

Harness the power of the Orchestrated Onboarding Principles

Your customer onboarding must go above and beyond implementing your product. That’s where the five essential principles of Orchestrated Onboarding come into play. Take the time to listen to customers to find out what they truly want and need. Ensure you deliver value rather than just go live with your product. Capture benchmarks and track your efforts to measure your impact. Leverage customer enablement practices to put forward a one-to-many approach that scales customer onboarding and customer success. And then tie together all the best practices, services, and tools customers want and need in premium packages. When you deploy the Orchestrated Onboarding principles you are on the way to transforming your company and your customers’ businesses. If you want to keep learning about these essential principles, I recommend you read Part Three of my book, Onboarding Matters, How Successful Companies Transform New Customers into Loyal Champions.

DONNA WEBER is the world’s leading expert in customer onboarding. For more than two decades, she has helped high-growth startups and established enterprises create customers for life. Her award-winning book is Onboarding Matters: How Successful Companies Transform New Customers Into Loyal Champions. Learn more at



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