What is Orchestrated Onboarding and Why You Should Care.

Of course, you want your customers to succeed. But why can that be so difficult? It’s because customer-facing teams are often siloed. As a result, your customers don’t get the appropriate help they need to be successful. Successful customer onboarding requires collaboration and cooperation across teams and people. It requires strategy and execution. It requires orchestration.


The Orchestrated Onboarding™ framework

The Orchestrated Onboarding framework is a cross-functional approach to customer onboarding and enablement. I call it orchestrated because it involves organizing and planning something that is complicated to achieve a desired or maximum effect.


Like a musician who picks up and plays every instrument in the orchestra during a performance, I see CSMs frantically attempt to make customers happy—all on their own. This results in a confusing and disjointed relationship with new accounts from the start, just like the clanging you hear when orchestras aren’t finely tuned. However, when customer-facing roles each play their own instrument, together they provide a cohesive and harmonious arrangement. This is what customers want and this is where orchestration comes in.


Onboarding is the action or process of familiarizing new customers with your products and your services. It is the critical period after the deal closes when new customers must be guided to success. This is also the time when customers are most interested in making a difference with your product. Onboarding begins before the deal closes and may last for days or months, depending on your product. Whether it takes 90 seconds or 90 weeks, onboarding is the key to building trusting and enduring relationships with your customers.


When you use the Orchestrated Onboarding framework, you no longer feature solo artists. Instead, you have a group effort, where everyone knows the score, and everyone plays their parts. You bring coherence and harmony to the customer experience, regardless of who owns the onboarding process. No matter who is conducting—whether CSMs or onboarding specialists—they align with customer-facing teams in an orchestrated manner to provide the seamless journey customers crave.


The Orchestrated Onboarding framework includes six stages to guide customers through the initial onboarding and beyond. It’s a workable process that improves communication across internal teams as well as customers. Onboarding starts during the sales cycle and continues past the product go-live to address user adoption, change management, and user turnover. It’s a strategic solution to ensuring the renewal in the beginning of the customer relationship, when it most matters. See a high-level overview of the Orchestrated Onboarding framework, below.


Figure 1: The Orchestrated Onboarding™ framework

The six stages of Orchestrated Onboarding

  1. Embark. In this stage, you sell and market the value of your Customer Success and onboarding programs, even before the deal is closed.

  2. Handoff. Next come two handoffs: one for internal teams and another for customers, to ensure internal teams are ready for the customer journey and customer teams are ready to partner with you.

  3. Kickoff. After handoffs, you kick off the implementation and detail all that’s needed for your product to go live.

  4. Adopt. This stage includes the actual implementation and adoption of your product and might take several weeks or even months.

  5. Review. It’s important to review progress with your customers as new account onboarding wraps up.

  6. Expand. Keep going because there are always new users and organizations to onboard, and users need to quickly adopt the features and products that keep coming at them.

Like any good performance, you don’t wow your audience overnight. It takes work and perseverance to appear effortless. Any top performer knows about the countless hours spent behind the scenes before opening night. In the same way, deliberate work and collaboration is required to deliver a seamless customer journey. Delve into each stage of the Orchestrated Onboarding framework, learn best practices and processes, and gain access to valuable templates and resources in my new book, Onboarding Matters. Stay tuned. In upcoming articles we’ll dive into each stage of the Orchestrated Onboarding framework.

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