Discover the impact of the onboarding process on your net revenue retention (NRR) in our new webinar session. In this episode, we’ve talked with Peter Ord, the founder and CEO of GuideCX. He shared invaluable insights and focused on the following topics:
- How to guide customers during the onboarding process
- The most important things to consider during the onboarding process
- The impact of the onboarding process on NRR
Good morning! Good afternoon! Thank you all for registering for today’s webinar session! For those of you who do not know me, I’m Irina Cismas, Head of Marketing at Custify, and I’m gonna be your host for the following hour. Today I have Peter Ord as my guest. He is the founder and CEO of GuideCX and the father of four beautiful girls.
Peter, thank you for accepting our invitation!
I want to ask you, Peter, but also our audience. What are the business challenges that you are facing as we speak? What’s the customer success pain that you are trying to solve? So I’m gonna ask you to start and our audience to type in their answers in the chat box.
Well, first of all, thank you for having me! I mean we are customers of Custify, and it’s awesome to be on this webinar. Irina and I have gotten to know each other before this call. And one of the joys of going on this journey and starting a company like GuideCX is meeting people from across the world, like from Romania, and becoming friends with them. And it just gives you a greater sense of confidence and humanity that all people have good in them.
To answer your question, I think what keeps me up at night is in a fast-growing company, culture is a constant. It’s constantly on the top of my mind. I’m one of those believers that thinks culture can be ruined by one person in an organization. And so we’ve grown from 20 employees to 100 employees in less than two years. And that growth will continue to expand and culture has the ability to significantly accelerate your organization and become a competitive advantage.
I want to do right by our employees, I want them to enjoy working here, I want them to be friends with one another, and I want them to not take offense when no offense is intended. I want them to work with other departments seamlessly. I say that and understand that all those things are easier said than done. And because of that, it has to be an initiative, it has to be an objective, it has to be a focus that we constantly work on and, and focus on to ensure that we’re providing that good culture. So that’s what keeps me up at night. Every single employee we hire right adds or takes away from the culture. Thankfully, we have amazing people that work for us. And we’re all excited to come to work on Monday mornings.
Thank you, Peter, for sharing! For those who joined later, we were discussing current business challenges, current pains, or “things that keep us up at night”. Drop me a line and let me know what your current pains are and how can we help you.
I want to share a few housekeeping items and then we jump into the conversation. All the lines are muted for a better listening experience. This is a recorded event and all of you who registered will receive the recording link after the event ends. And we allocated 15 minutes at the end of Peters’s presentation to try to answer all of your questions.
Last but not least, I started this webinar series because I wanted to give back to the community. I wanted to create a place where people can find concrete solutions to their CS problems. So together with my colleagues, I created a dedicated landing page and I’m going to actually share it with you. I’m gonna list it here. I encourage you all to go and book a meeting with one of our sales consultants and pick their brains, ask your questions, and try to find the answers to your pains. I’m sure that my colleagues will help you.
This being said, I want to start the discussion about onboarding and the impact it has on the NRR. And as always, I’m gonna start it with a poll that I’m gonna publish. I think you can see it on your screen. How much of the NRR is influenced by the onboarding process in your current organization? “None”? “Less than 50%”? “More than 50”? Or “do not know”? Submit your vote. Then I’m going to pass the mic to Peter. So at this moment, we have 60% “Do not know” and 31% “more than 50%”. I am going to do a disclosure: I was commenting with Peter about the distribution of the votes. Peter, what do you think about the distribution? Does it surprise you in any way? So I think it remains “62% Do not know and 29% “More than 50%”.
Yeah, I think that “do not know” makes sense. Because this is a hard thing to measure. It’s almost like if you lose a customer, you don’t know if they would have expanded if we did them better, or if they would have just stayed flat throughout the whole lifecycle.
I’m excited to talk about why the first 30 days of a customer experience can affect the long-term trajectory of what the value of that customer will be worth to you. Long term, a lot of cool things we can optimize in that first 30-day experience.
Now, our company can attribute an influx of net revenue retention, we get 90% of our expansion in the first 60 days of the customer experience. And, we attribute that to a lot of ways we onboard customers, right? We prove ourselves in the first 60 days. And I think it has a lot to do with building trust with the customer. I don’t subscribe to the belief that you have to spend years building trust. I think trust can be owned within first interactions. And there are some cool strategies we can talk about to optimize that trust equation.
Perfect, I suggest you share the screen. I know that you prepared a presentation for us. But before, I have the first question. So did I get it right? You said that the most 90% of the revenue expansion you attributed in the first 60 days? Does it come early in the funnel? I’m surprised.
So not all companies are exactly alike. But you know, our sales process, our go-to-market motion is very much a land and expand motion. Our goal is to prove ourselves with small teams within big companies and expand within those companies rapidly. And to do that we optimize our onboarding motion in order to encourage that expansion effort.
I can jump into details. One of the things we do, which I think is very innovative, is we have a role in our company called the air traffic controller. What’s unique about airports is you have individuals that sit in towers that are directing planes. And they’re telling planes when they can land. And when it’s safe for them to land. They’re kind of putting the pilots at ease, letting them know that, “hey, this runway is open, when you land, you’re going to go to this gate”. And when you go to the gate, there’s going to be a crew, that’s going to be waiting for you to make sure that your plane comes in efficiently and the bags get offloaded.
In essence, that air traffic control is telling the pilot: “hey, we’re ready for you”. So if you take that analogy and apply it to why we call one of our onboarding roles within our onboarding organization an air traffic controller, as soon as a deal moves into, we call to come in status, meaning that we’ve kind of got commitment from the customer, even if they haven’t signed the contract yet. We’re just going through this final last stage of paperwork, we have an air traffic controller in our company that involves themselves with the account executive.
The whole purpose is exactly synonymous with what an air traffic controller would do in a towered airport. We’re putting the customer at ease, we’re letting them know that we’re prepared for their business, that we have the runway clear for them to land. And as soon as that contract is signed, we’re going to take care of them. And then that air traffic controller passes the relationship off to our we call it Client Experience Manager, who is our onboarding specialist.
Thanks for sharing that! I have to admit that I never thought of the comparison with an air controller. But yeah, it totally makes sense knowing the importance of an air controller in the whole flight navigation process.
So should we kick in with your presentation?
Guiding customers during the onboarding process
Sure! Feel free to stop me. I’m definitely talking about a topic that’s like talking about one of my kids, so I get super passionate about this. Let me share my screen. Like Irina mentioned, I’m a father of four girls. She called them beautiful girls. So I appreciate that. They get their good looks from their mom, which I’m super thankful about. I’m one of five boys, so I don’t have any previous experience with girls. All my girls will be teenagers at the same time. So soon we’ll have four teenagers: my oldest daughter is 10, and my youngest daughter is 3.
I started GuideCX to solve one of my biggest problems. At my previous company, we dealt with automotive car dealerships with very difficult customers to engage. We sold a CRM into that space, and my biggest frustration was engaging our car dealerships after we sold them our product.
Three things would happen during the experience. The thing that would happen is on our welcome calls, the contract signer would never be on the phone. And so our project management team would be in a position to have to resell the customer side implementation team on what was purchased. Because they often didn’t participate in the sales process. For us, the education motion of educating people was about helping them understand what the finish line looks like and what our product does. We kind of got a motion of having to sell and re-educate them throughout the implementation experience. Because of that paradigm of people not being involved in the process.
The second thing that was frustrating to me was not knowing who has the ball at certain times during the experience. So helping everyone understand where the responsibilities lie, like who’s responsible for identifying what type of personas we need, on the customer side, and making sure the customer is assigning the appropriate deliverables that we need assigned to the correct persona in their organization.
Meaning if we need an IT manager, if we need a modeling, someone who models a process, or if we need someone who imports data on their side, every implementation experience or onboarding experience is different. But that was a big frustration of mine. We had no thoughtful way to help our customers manage their team and help them understand where their responsibilities lie within an organization and ultimately hold them accountable for that.
And then the third was: When am I going to get the product or service that was purchased? We can answer that question thoughtfully in our previous organization, and I felt like if I jump forward, we’ll just kind of jump around here.
When you look at business-to-consumer brands think about a time when you’ve put your credit card into a website and bought something. And you didn’t know when you’re gonna get that good product or service that you’re purchasing. It’s very rare today, when we buy something online, in our consumer lives and we don’t know when we’re gonna get it. I think these are great brands, right? DoorDash, Amazon, FedEx, Pizza Hut, these brands all do a great job of being transparent.
After the sale, helping you understand where your package is, during the process. I don’t blow up Jeff Bezos when I package like because he tells me it’s like, he gives me insight into the process. And I think that’s something to be learned, right?
“When you jump into the B2B space and we’re onboarding software and solutions, being able to thoughtfully answer the question of where are you at in the process is important.” – Peter Ord, CEO of GuideCX
And based on the velocity of the project experience, When are you going to get this good product or service? And how does that compare with what was originally promised? So are they surprised if you’re running five days late?
Yeah, back to the airplane example. I got on a flight the other day and I had a tight connection. In Texas on my way to Florida, we were 45 minutes late from pulling back from the gate in Utah. And I was getting stressed because I checked bags, I didn’t know if my bags, were going to make a tight connection.
We had a fun thing we’re going to do in Florida and we need to be there right on time. And on air, the pilot jumped on the loudspeaker and said, “Hey, we’re going to be 45 minutes late from pushing back from the gate. But don’t worry, we’re gonna fly faster, and we’re going to be on time.”
That last comment meant a lot to me, it helped me understand that, okay, they have a plan, that they’re going to burn more gas, they’re going to fly the plane a lot faster, and I’m going to make my connection. And so if you’re running late, lots of the time, it’s hard during the implementation experience to know that we’re already late. We know we’re already late, but it’s hard knowing that we’re already running late.
Having a system unbiased like ours can help you understand that,” hey, you’re trending to be to deliver your project or your solution or your service past what you originally planned”. And these are all the deliverables that you can accelerate in order to come back in line with your original timeline. That will reduce the anxiety that your customers feel. And ultimately we talked about the trust equation, that’s what puts customers at ease, and that’s what wins the trust. It’s not that you’re late, it’s that your customers understand that, “hey, there’s a plan to catch up”. And it’s going to take care of me and I have confidence in this organization that I’m partnering with, that they’re going to be able to do that.
I think I said earlier that the trust equation is you might have seen this online, I think it’s important to understand how we build trust with customers. Because ultimately, people aren’t gonna buy from you if they don’t trust you and if they don’t like you. So to me, I feel like understanding how to build trust is important. And then we can talk about these three things that I’ll talk about what you can optimize to accelerate this trust equation. But we need to understand it’s our words, our actions, it’s our emotions during the process. Do they align with our customers, and if they align with our customers, then we’re truly creating a win-win situation.
To speak specifically about GuideCX, our motives are to reduce the time it takes for our customers to deliver their products and services. Our customers’ motives are to deliver an amazing experience and create a ton more efficiencies through the onboarding experience such that the customers can expand and increase their net revenue retention and their gross retention as well. But, you know, as we go through this kind of process, if we build trust with customers, people want to work with you.
The trust reduces the anxiety they have with you. I trusted that the pilot would fly faster. If I trusted that he understood all the different connections at risk for passengers on his flight, right? So do we build that same type of trust with our customers? And when we do every department benefits, everyone has a better and easier experience with the customer. And so when you talk about how to accelerate that like I told you guys early on I don’t subscribe to kind of this, this process of” it takes time to build trust”, I think trust can be owned in initial interactions. It’s owned because you’re optimizing three things, you’re optimizing speed, you’re optimizing transparency, and you’re optimizing engagement. And so if you talk about this example, we’re sharing a lot of airplane examples. I didn’t expect to do this. But FedEx, they were the first unicorn in the United States, kind of first billion-dollar company.
Frederick Wallace is the founder of this company. He’s quoted as saying the information about the package is as important as the package itself. And I think that’s super interesting, right? It tells you that the customer is less concerned about the product or service, and more concerned about the experience. And if you take a step back FedEx was competing with the United States Postal Service, the government back in back with an entity with unlimited funds. They understood that if we’re going to compete with a company with unlimited funds we’re going to need to work on creating the best experience that we possibly can because they understood that just moving the package from point A to point B, that’s a commodity that didn’t differentiate them. But the customer experience would, and I think that compares to the software SaaS space right now.
As there continue to be so many companies popping up that are filling a ton of different needs, the software is becoming more and more commoditized. And because it’s becoming more and more commoditized, the customer experience is becoming more and more of a differentiator to companies. And I think that’s why there’s this movement of the CX experience being moved to the forefront, the customer of your company looking at and identifying “Hey, how can I improve and optimize the customer experience”. And so if we learn about the business-to-consumer visibility rockstars, we can learn a lot about how these companies focus on customer experience, and more importantly, how they focus on transparency during the effort.
Let’s take a step back and just analyze what customers go through. And I showed this to Irina, and Irina got excited about this graph. If you guys don’t follow Jake Dunlap on LinkedIn, he’s a great person, he posts a lot of great content, this is one of the things he posted a few months back. But you know, in this in this world, there’s a lot of information available online, right? Customers are researching you more than ever. The sales process that’s going through that, what’s happening in your companies, it’s moving more towards customer research first, then they reach out to you get demoed or evaluate or go through a free trial.
When they decide to sign on the dotted line, right, they have done a ton of legwork in most cases. But that’s the easy part. The hard part falls on this group, right? How do we create a win-win with a customer that just signed a product? Well, the first step is to recognize that there are a lot of challenges that we’re going to have throughout this effort, right? We’re going to have to implement them, we’re gonna have to manage change. That’s really difficult. People are not creatures of change in most cases. So we have to manage that we need to hold their hands, and we need to reduce the anxiety they feel. We need to manage inertia, there are going to be some people in that organization that did not want to change. And then some people leave maybe not because of your implementation, but because of other outside variables. And so these are all things that we need to create strategies around. How to create a strategy around resistance to change to inertia to leadership change. And we need to also recognize that this is the danger zone. This is the toughest part of the customer experience. But if we get it right, it could substantially accelerate what your customer means to you long term.
I wanted to ask you something. You discussed the resistance to change and inertia. When you acquire a software product, it is a company decision or a team decision. How does the resistance to change appear? Wasn’t purchasing the software an assumed decision? Well, why do you think resistance to change and inertia appear?
Providing Transparent Guidance
We use this pyramid to assess our customers. I go over with our onboarding team on a monthly basis to make sure that we’re paying attention to kind of the human aspect of the implementation experience, the value-driven guidance, and the transparent guidance.
And so how do you manage that change? I think that if you just kind of go down this pyramid, ask yourself your organization question this question. Does your team understand the customer or barrel through the list of bullets? Are they more concerned about going through their process? Or are they more concerned about holding their customers’ hands through the process? Do you teach how to use the software or how to get value out of the software? So are you just talking about button pushing or are you talking about the value that customers receive?
I was in a conversation with one of our customers the other day, and he said, You know, there are three questions that I cringe at when customers asked me. And I know that we failed if they asked any of these three questions. And they said if I get asked, Where are we at? When are we getting x? Or what’s next? Those three questions tell me I failed. Those are questions that I should be giving the answers to transparently through automation. Like where are we at? When are we getting x, and what’s next? And that’s transparent guidance.
I think the best companies in the world do things so customers don’t have to call them. And like this flight, I was on a tight connection. When I made my connection, I was automatically worried that wow, like that connection only had 20 minutes from my first initial flight that landed in Dallas to my next flight that was going to Florida. And then I was worried that my bags didn’t make it. Until I got a notification on my phone from Delta, saying my bags were successfully boarded onto the plane I was on. And that automatically reduced my anxiety. And that’s an example of a great company, Delta, being transparent with their experience. Their customers don’t have to call their support line and panic about bags being missing. They probably did get 1000s of calls in their support line, because people were worried about bags not making tight connections, or people checking in late in their bag, not making it on the plane.
That’s just one example of how a transparent process reduces the anxiety of those that you serve. And then collaborative guidance, I think, do you engage customers or overwhelm customers? Are you trying to ask them to do too much or are you feeding them in bite-sized chunks?
How do you set up the balance? How do you know when it’s too much or too little when it comes to this?
There are two aspects to that. The first aspect is when you’re dealing with lots of times power users or your main point of contact on the customer side, the process of enabling them to manage their team is important to understand. And if you’re just sending them an email and saying “hey, these are all the things we need your team to do”, and not helping them understand maybe who from their team and what personas in their organization they need to engage, then you’re asking a lot on that power user.
Sometimes you’ll notice that those people will just go dark on you, they’ll stop responding to emails because they are overwhelmed. But an example of feeding them in bite-sized chunks will be helping them understand what all the deliverables are, but separating those deliverables by personas that might be assigned those deliverables in those organizations. Helping them understand that, “hey, it’s like Serena, you don’t have to do all of this, right? But what we’re going to need from your team, we’re going to need someone that understands your data structure, we’re also going to need someone that can help us model out a process when an inbound lead comes into your website”. And then we’re also going to need a stakeholder that understands financial forecasting. Let’s not talk about the deliverables yet, let’s talk about who those people are.
That will help those power users know that they don’t have to do everything, they just have to manage this process. Having a platform like GuideCX, obviously helps you create some skill around that type of process. But that’s, that’s the first aspect of it.
The second is to help them understand all the things that need to be done to get to the finish line. But let’s not ask him to do too much too fast. Let’s feed them in bite-sized chunks. Let’s just focus on two of the 50 deliverables in the next two days. And then, when you get those done, that’ll notify me that you’re done. And we’ll review those things. And then we’ll move on to the next three. And then let’s notify people when they’re almost up to bat, and they’ll notify people when they’re overdue on items, and they’ll help them understand how the critical path is affected and how that forecasted end date changes based on how fast people do things. Then it’s time for analyzing your own process and helping you understand,” hey, every time I tell the customer to do this 90% of the time they get confused”. Having data to help you understand where customers get stuck. That’s super, super important. These two things are reviewed or persona-based assignments.
On the customer side, don’t just ask your power user to do everything, handhold them through the process of who usually does these deliverables when you engage customers, in companies that you’re serving. And then the second is to feed them in bite-sized chunks.
One step at a time.
Yeah. In confident guidance, you still have customer confidence and insight customer, or insight customer apprehension. I’m a father of four girls. I was raised by amazing parents. And you know, my father, unfortunately, passed away about two years ago. And I considered him an amazing dad. And one of the things I asked him was, “Hey, Dad, like, what’s one of the greatest pieces of advice you can give me as a new father?” And he says, everything you do and say should be designed to instill confidence in your children.
I think there are some parallels to that with our customers. Everything we do and say should instill confidence in the customers that we serve. When people are confident, they’re empowered to do more. I think that confidence unlocks human potential, right? It gives you gives people the ability to work outside of themselves, to be confident to do something that they might not be, might not think they can do. And so I think as you’re analyzing your onboarding process, identifying things that you know, where you can build the confidence in your customers throughout the deliverables that they accomplish. I don’t think it’s elementary to praise and help the customers understand how awesome they did on the last deliverable they accomplished.
Building trust in your customer experience
Here’s kind of a cool video. I think a lot of your daily jobs are like this gentleman that’s trying to keep the train on the tracks. We have customers we’re trying to keep the train on the tracks and are trying to evolve to help them on their way. And lots of times when an obstacle presents itself on the track, we save things just in time, but inevitably, there’s another obstacle. And we got to get creative and figure out how to remove that obstacle from the tracking, we barely get through it.
I can talk about one more aspect of the onboarding experience that can improve your net revenue retention, and kind of build that trust in your customer experience. It would be this 90% of the customers we deal with are probably moving through the process efficiently. Once you have your process set up, you’re answering those three questions that we talked about at the start of the webinar. Do the customers know when they’re gonna get the good product or service that they’re signed up for? Do they know who’s responsible for what and do they know what they purchased?
Once you identify those problems and build your process around answering those questions, then you’re starting to have customers that have emergencies. I could just share one more personal story with you all. My third daughter Gwen was born, not breathing. And we were at a local hospital, kind of a smaller, brand new hospital. And the doctor came to us and said: “Hey, we have a bit of an emergency. We don’t have a ventilator in this hospital we need one. So we’re going to bring a helicopter in, and we’re going to life-flight her to a hospital in Salt Lake.” That immediately created panic. My wife and I started to understand that this hospital did not have a NICU, it did not have a process to move a baby off the assembly line and help that baby with maybe a little more attention than needed from all the other babies that were being born at this hospital.
Ultimately, Gwen spent three weeks in the NICU and recovered. She had to get this fluid called surfactant applied via a ventilator that would help her lungs expand, and she was a pretty mature baby. So everything’s well, but if you apply that example to your customer experience, I think that you have customers that are gonna go through your process, and they’re gonna be fine. And you’re gonna pass them on to your client success team. So when your client success team gets it, they’re going to be healthy, and they’re going to be breathing. And now it’s just, hey, how do we help them grow?
But if you’re pushing customers down the line that are unhealthy, and you kind of push them on to your client success team, and they have significant problems breathing, they’re not going to be able to grow, they’re going to churn and they’re not going to expand, and they’re going to contract and ultimately, they’re going to not survive.
Create a process around how to create a NICU within your own onboarding team, and put your customers at ease, so that they know that you have a plan when things that are unplanned happen. It won’t feel like the gentleman on this train that’s trying to solve obstacles at the moment. You can take the train off the tracks, and put them on a different track. And it helped that customer be healthy before we pass them on to the client success word. These are just some things to think about as you optimize this “danger zone”. It’s well worth the investment to over support and over handhold customers within this phase of the process and I promise you, it will pay off as you experience not only increased grocery tension because you know, the first 30 days you win the renewal in my opinion, but you also experience significant expansion which will drive your net revenue retention higher.
Accelerating the process
I’d also focus on speed. The best companies in the world do things quickly through effective scaling. I always say if you can system ties your process and create some repetition in your process. I understand not all implementation experiences are the same. There’s always variability in your onboarding effort, but to the extent, that you can create specific milestones that every customer goes through, maybe the deliverables within those milestones might be different.
The more repetitive your process can be, the more measurable it will become. And the more measurable it is, the more optimizable it is, right? You can’t optimize things you can’t measure. And so, if you follow that order: look at your process, identify how repetitive the process is, you can start to measure where customers get stuck in the process. Then, you can optimize the process going forward.
Once you put those three things in motion, then you can start working on speed. And the best companies in the world do things quickly through effective scaling in and you can work on time value. We drink our own champagne here at our company, at GuideCX, we use our own solution, then we’ve gone from a 90-day implementation early on, to now we implement our customers in 12 days. And, that didn’t happen overnight. That happened through iteration learning, measuring, optimizing, going through that process over and over and over, and perfecting our recipe. And as our product evolves and creates more features and functions you have to iterate and go through that process over and over and over, because your product becomes more and more complex over time, based on you meeting your customer demand and building new features and functions in your product to help customers evolve.
And so the other thing I think you’d value in your process is transparency. The single most important ingredient in the recipe for success is transparency. Because transparency builds trust. I always say transparency is the conduit for trust. And then engagement if everyone is moving together, and then Success takes care of itself. So one of the things that we did that I think is super interesting is we did a study within our organization. We have a pretty significant business intelligence team. I said, “Hey, let’s analyze projects that are going through our system, and let’s identify what behaviors represent success.”
One of the things we found across 100,000 projects that we measured for about six months is that when only one individual was engaged on the client system on the client side, only 61% of those projects were on schedule. Not great. But when we saw five individuals on the client side involved in a project 91% of them were on schedule. And one of the things we did when we learned this is we felt like wow, okay, well, what was the reason? Well, this goes back to persona-based assignments helping in empowering your power users. Understand who else in their organization they need to involve in order to be successful. Another thing that we thought was interesting was that when Abby, let’s say one of the customer side, individuals missed the task, four other people knew that she missed a task on the customer side. So there’s some intrinsic accountability in that process that everyone else understood, kind of who was responsible for what but more importantly, in a non-intrusive, non-intimidating way. You had people that, on the customer side team, knew who was missing their items. You didn’t have to be the bad guy, in other words.
Making customers accountable
I think one other thing that was also interesting was customers, overwhelmingly, were completing their deliverables on our platform after their business hours. And this is interesting, right? Because oftentimes, we’re working with customers to implement our solutions. But we forget that these users that we’re working with on the customer side, have their day jobs and then we’re piling something on top of all that work they’re supposed to do to implement our solution, and the only time they have to work on these things that in most cases is after hours. As you design and optimize that onboarding flow, ask yourself how are you empowering users to work after hours. Are you giving them enough information? Do they have a platform where they can do things in self-serve, without your hand-holding effort at the moment?
Peter, I wanna I want to ask you something. I know that we are almost running out of time, but I am curious about two things on the other slide. You mentioned them. Okay, the insight, which is not presented, is that you found out that people were spending extra hours or that they were resolving tasks outside the business hours. What did you guys change? So having this information, how did this information help you change something? What did you change in our processes?
Yeah, so in our specific process, we use our own solution. And so we have the ability to embed training guides, assets, and collateral, infographics, kind of more substantial directions, to help customers self serve through some deliverables. We felt like we can throw over the fence to their side to do it on their own.
We created more content and made our content richer to enable them to do things after hours. Whereas before, lots of times, we have to be on the call.
I’ll give you a specific example: one of the more complex things we do in our onboarding experience is we have to authenticate their domain and add CNAME entries into their DNS settings. It sounds very complex and intimidating, but it’s really not. We just have to have the right person on the phone who have access to the domain’s DNS and have them out there to see the CNAME entries. Once they added their entries, then they had to call us and say, we’ve added them, and then we have to test and verify, ping their domain, and authenticate those.
It’s kind of a back-and-forth process that required us to be on the phone with them. Now, it was really hard for us to get on the phone with the right person during the day because everyone had their day jobs. So oftentimes, this was a bottleneck in our process. It would take up to two weeks to get the appropriate person on the phone that can help us authenticate DNS entries into their domain registrar. And so we felt like “how do we optimize just that little experience within our implementation effort and create a way where we can enable this individual an organization that has access to the domain registrar, to add their DNS entries, and then authenticate themselves, without having to call us?”
Through kind of creating very intuitive instructions, we had kind of a training guide attached to those instructions. And, we empowered that individual to do all that on their own and verify that they successfully added the CNAME entries on their own without ever having to call us. And that simple investment reduced two weeks out of our process.
They took two weeks, 14 days out of our time to value. You think about well, how does that affect a user’s confidence in our solution? Time kills all deals, I would say, people get frustrated when they don’t things moving and progressing. If I don’t get notified where my packages at after I order something on Amazon, I immediately think I got scammed, and B2B customers are no different.
Oftentimes this person that had access to the domain registrar wasn’t a user of our system. He wasn’t going to be in our system on a daily basis, he wasn’t going to be receiving value out of our system, but he was or she was inhibiting our main users from getting value out of the system. They didn’t oftentimes know how to hold that guy accountable or that gal accountable for doing this set activity. That’s just one really specific example of how we can involve another person in the organization to help that power user understand what he or she needed to do. Then, more importantly, have automated follow-ups when that task or deliverable is overdue, so everyone understood that we’re waiting on that person. And I don’t have to be the bad guy throwing that person under the bus.
Yeah, the little things in the process as we tweak, but we wouldn’t know that that was a bottleneck in our process if we weren’t measuring it. So oftentimes, we kind of go through our internal checklist, and we’re trying to get things done. And customers are just sitting and waiting without anyone knowing that there’s just one task that’s not getting done that’s holding up the whole process. So bells and whistles should go off when those things happen in your process, so you’re aware of it.
Knowing that the Northstar metric for GuideCX is five individuals on the client side, involved in a project. Couldn’t someone easily fake it? Would it be easier for the implementation team to make sure that they have five people on the project, regardless of who they are? How do you balance this? How do you know that those five people should be real personas that are actually involved in that and it doesn’t help to actually fake it or artificially influenced that Northstar metric?
Yeah, well, I think step one is just what you said, is understanding like sitting together with your team and having a real conversation around. Who do we need on the customer side, in order for us all to be successful? Let’s talk about the personas that need to be involved. And then step two would be let’s look at our process, and let’s assign those personas to specific deliverables within our implementation experience. And then, over time, let’s manage which personas are the most difficult to deal with. Is it the domain registrar, the person that has access to the domain registrar, or the IT manager that no one knows where he’s at? They’re always telling you how important they are. Right?
We all have specific users and organizations we have a harder time dealing with. Then when you identify that, then and only then you can engage your implementation team and help them understand the importance of inviting those personas. A persona doesn’t have to be assigned a task, maybe one of the personas is the contract signer. I want to create automation such that when any person on his or her team misses a deliverable, that person is notified so that I don’t have to be the bad guy.
Basically, you’re empowering the contract signer, the person that oftentimes sends you the check to know whether his team is meeting the expectations that were set, or missing them, without me having to throw them under the bus. Another common complaint that some people have is, hey, there are too many hands in the cookie jar. I don’t want to create more work for myself when more people are involved in this process. Well, you can solve that with visibility, right?
You can create different layers of permissions and visibility. Based on who’s involved in the project, maybe the contract signer shouldn’t see the whole plan. I just wanted him to be visible. I just want him to only see overdue tasks. See what his team’s not doing that I need his or her help with holding his team accountable to do in the future. Maybe that IT manager, I just want to see him the only task that he’s responsible for. And maybe a relationship with “Hey, if you missed this task, it’s going to move our forecast past our original planned date”. So this is why we need you to meet this responsibility. And then maybe you’re a power user who sees everything and cleans what we’re doing.
I’m a big fan of transparency. Here in the US, you have restaurants that oftentimes you go in and you go down an assembly line and you pick and choose which ingredients you want in your food. I think that’s pretty new in the last 10-15 years, it seems like those restaurants are becoming more and more popular. But as I analyze that process, I think, “wow, the reason I’m confident in eating that food is I saw it being prepared, I saw the ingredients going into it, and I knew that hair wasn’t getting in my food, I knew they didn’t put in all of these things I don’t like.”
To the extent you can show your customers what ingredients you’re putting into the customer experience, that’s gonna build confidence in them. That’s going to encourage them to have a good experience eating your food they’re going to build what you made. And so they’re going to appreciate it more and when they appreciate it more, they’re going to engage with it more, and they’re going to push their users to use it because they’re gonna see all the work that went into building it. It’s their plate.
We can go to questions, but like, I think the proof is in the pudding, right? We see across our customer base, it’s not uncommon, that when you follow these principles, that you’re going to reduce your implementation time by half. You’re going to also improve the efficiency of your team by a 4x increase in project management capacity. You’re going to need fewer meetings. The greatest companies in the world make it so your customers don’t have to call you.
You don’t have to have as many meetings with your customers, because all that information will be in the moment ready for them to see through a platform. And all these things optimize net revenue retention because customers will trust you more.
When you do things quickly, and predictably, people want to work with you. When you’re transparent, you’re going to build more trust and reduce the anxiety that customers have with you, and you’re also going to be easy to work with. Everyone in your company will benefit from that experience. When you look at the leading cause of churn, I would say the first step to optimizing net revenue retention is retaining customers. You can’t create retention, if you don’t retain.
A challenging onboarding experience is difficult if you’re trying to optimize retention and net revenue retention. So that being said thank you, I’d love some time for questions.
Thank you very much, Peter! This it’s not actually a question. It’s more of a request Kathlyn asked if we can share the presentation. So just send me the presentation and I’m going to send it to whoever wants to have it. Of course, the presentation is also in the recording and you can watch it. Now it’s the time to ask questions. I do have a lot of questions to ask Peter, but I interfered a lot.
I’m not sure if it’s a misconception or not. Whenever we are talking about state-of-the-art customer experience where we are talking about high-touch CS models, we assume that technology doesn’t have a place in this. Is it true or false?
Do we need technology even if we have one on one interactions? Can technology help us in this customer success model?
I think the way they answer that question is to take a step back and analyze the customer touchpoints that you have in your organization and classify them as reactive or proactive. If you’re always reacting to customers’ questions, when they’re calling you, and find yourself in a moment of trying to answer everything they’re asking, then I would analyze “Hey, what are they asking?”
Like the Delta example? It probably had 1000s of phone calls coming into their support line about your bags and people were worried about them not getting on the plane. What Delta did is they said: “Well, how do we answer that question transparently, through automation, through technology, to improve the customer experience?” They created a notification in our app that notify customers that their bags got on the planes. Customers’ anxiety levels were reduced, they trusted the process more and it freed up time for their staff to be more proactive. So I always say, if technology can help you be more proactive, by answering questions automatically, that most customers have during your process, then it has a place in your strategy. If it can’t, then maybe it doesn’t.
I think going back to kind of how repetitive can you make your process. When you kind of look at all the support tickets that come in during the implementation process? Is there a common theme? Do they always ask the same question? And then take a step back and say “Hey, how do I answer that question, transparently, through automation through technology?” And the best companies in the world do this really well. The best companies make it so that you never have to call them. I never call Jeff Bezos up to ask for my packages. I never blow him up when my packages are three days late because I have confidence that I’m still gonna get it. And if I don’t, he has a process where I can easily click a button and get a refund.
Laurie asks you:
What if you have a product that is supply chain-dependent? Products can be late and out of your hands. Is there anything to help communicate with the least amount of frustration for the customer?
Great question, Laurie. I recently went through kind of a construction process. I was working with a general contractor who didn’t give me any insight into why we were late. I was super frustrated because I didn’t understand. I immediately thought that this general contractor didn’t care enough about me to give me insight and perspective when in reality, it was the plumber that was missing his tasks, right? It was the plumber that is causing the whole project to go overdue.
If he would have told me that: “hey, we have a really challenging time getting these plumbers to come on-site, there’s a material shortage.” Even though it’s out of his hands, even though he didn’t manage this plumber, I would have still been put at ease and understood that it’s not the general contractor’s fault, he’s doing the best he can, but this plumber is the one that’s failing us.
That insight and perspective alone create a better customer experience. For me, it helps me kind of plan around what this potential challenge might mean to me. To answer your question: it’s a product that is supply chain dependent. If you’re late and the reason is uncontrollable, that’s out of your hands. I think transparency helps a lot. Transparency is the conduit for trust, to the extent that you feel comfortable helping your customer understand what we’re waiting on, and that it is out of our hands.
At least now the customer is going to take some of the blame off of you. In my last company, we worked with automotive dealers, we had to integrate with manufacturers, like Toyota and Ford, Chevy. These manufacturers were very slow in sending us data. We created a process to help the dealer understand that this manufacturer is late. We’re waiting, this is holding up everything. What happened was that dealers would start calling the manufacturers for us, but that didn’t happen every time. You don’t probably want that to happen all the time. Maybe because some of your suppliers are managed by your customers. But that’s an example of how a transparent process helps ultimately speed up everything.
Peter, thank you very much for your availability and your answers! I encourage everyone to get in touch with you to ask more questions. I know that you do not mind receiving messages and questions. So get in touch with Peter.
Thank you all for attending today’s webinar session! It was a real pleasure.
Do you have any topic requests you’d like us to cover in future webinars? Reach out to us and let us know.