The Importance of a Customer Onboarding Program

Early on in the life of Pardot we realized that many customers would sign up for the product only to struggle implementing it. Seeing this, we started requiring a $2,500 quick start package so that we could ensure the client had a successful onboarding. Unfortunately, it added serious friction to the sales process since the up-front fee often required multiple signatures. The solution: raise the monthly fee from $500 to $1,000 and include a quick start package at no additional charge for all customers. Sales took off dramatically and we never looked back.

Here are the categories of the Pardot Quick Start Onboarding Package:

  • Project Planning
  • CRM Integration
  • Technical Setup
  • Marketing Asset & Integration Setup
  • Training

After 30 days, the Pardot client is up and running with their core sales and marketing tools integrated, prospects tracked, and emails blasting.

Customer onboarding is critical to the success of many Software-as-a-Service products and should be treated as a key part of the customer experience.

What else? What are some other thoughts on the importance of customer onboarding?

5 thoughts on “The Importance of a Customer Onboarding Program

  1. David, great post — I can really appreciate this from Body Boss’s days. I think one of the biggest hurdles for us was this very piece. However, we still struggled at it, to be honest — falls on me. The market for a athletic performance tracking platform for coaches was still very young, so focusing on onboarding, even or especially during the trial period, was critical.

    In retrospect, things like adding quick-start templates would have been hugely beneficial. It’s something we never quite got to, but I can see some tremendous benefits including being a sort of “bridge” from current processes to Body Boss processes.

    Also, what DID seem to work, was a lot of hands-on support and using remote tools. As programs all over the country came to us, we used a lot of Join.me to give quick web run-downs. We also developed some good collateral in the form of Quick Start Guides (PDFs) and video tutorials to help not only curb some inbound questions, but also as leave-behinds.

    Last point and question, curious what you and your readers have found when implementing project plans with schedules for some of the “low-friction, quick install” services of today. This is surprisingly a bit of a light bulb moment. We never provided a schedule of any type on setting up Body Boss, but I can see how this could be a good way to get the client engaged and accountable.

  2. Great article, David. Am I correct in understanding that you also got $3,500 additionally per year from each customer who purchased the included quick start package as a result of raising the monthly price from $500 to $1,000 and eliminating the flat fee of $2,500 for implementation?

    • Actually, it appears you got an additional $3,500 from each customer for the first year and then $6,000 more per year for every year after the first.

  3. David – Do you consider onboarding costs to be part of customer acquisition costs or part of COGS? It seems to me that onboarding is a one-time event, and thus should be part of customer acquisition costs and not COGS (which seems to be for ongoing costs). What are your thoughts on how to handle this?

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