Summing up 2021: All you need to know about customer onboarding and implementation throughout the year
Megha Poojari December 24, 2021 . 5 min read

SaaS solutions are among the fastest-growing segments of the IT business. Operating on a subscription basis model and centrally based on a remote cloud network, software as a service (SaaS) models have become the go-to for several organizations for different reasons, owing to their flexibility and affordability.

According to the Global Market Report 2021 , the global SaaS market is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.8 percent and is expected to reach $436.9 billion by 2025 at a compound annual growth rate of 12.5 percent.

Along with providing quality services, the SaaS industry is now gearing towards the client journey, facilitating the required tools and providing a seamless experience.

Software as a Service (SAAS) has progressively changed the rules of the game and changed the market. Along with innovations in technology, the focus of SaaS has shifted to customer success and retention.

Customer success and retention are now one of the key strengths of SaaS businesses. 92 percent of customers choose the services required from a brand that they can relate to. Service is the main conjunction between the enterprise and the client, which is why we see so many successful SaaS businesses.

Companies strive to offer a great customer experience to their clients. They focus on solutions that aren’t too complex and meet the client's specific requirements.

Instead of focusing on adding new customers, enterprise SaaS businesses have now shifted their focus to simplifying their suite of services, which will help them retain their existing customers.


Why has this transition occurred?

SaaS enterprises now offer their services in the “subscription model” or what we call the “pay-on-the-go” models. At several of those enterprises, these new subscription models mean that the accountability of software packages being successful is shared equally between the seller and the client.

Why aren’t all companies able to achieve Customer Success?

Even after making “Customer Success”, a crucial part of the business, why aren’t all Enterprise SaaS companies able to reduce their churn rate?

The answer is simple.

In any enterprise SaaS company, there are various silos of tools used by the cross-functional groups (Sales, Pre-Sales, Onboarding, Client Success, Product, Tech), making it difficult for these groups to collaborate effectively throughout the client lifecycle.

The sales groups work for months to move the enterprise deals from "leads" to "confirmed" clients in the CRM.

The Implementation/Onboarding/Solution team gets a download from the Sales/Pre-Sales in email, excel/word, or via some custom folders in CRM, which is partially useful. Then the implementation team does a deep dive (what, why, how, when, etc.) into the requirements of the customer.

More often than not, the subtleties of the requirements that were committed to the client during the sales process are not enclosed to the implementation team, further leading to gaps in communication and delays in deliverables.

The product team and the developers usually collaborate in Jira (or equivalent) tools to solve the puzzle of client requirements. However, they don’t have it that simple either, as they don’t get the full context of client use cases, revenue impact, and timelines for every client.

Examining the time to value then leads to back and forth between the internal teams, thus leading to a delay in the "go-live" date. Above all this, the product roadmap diverges in multiple directions to deal with various requirements and needs from new massive prospects, existing customers for retention/expansion, new business, new client section, new geographics, new regulations, etc.

The Client Success team is either introduced after the pre-sales stage or once the sale's closure is done, owing to the enterprise’s ability to reduce any gaps in "committed vs. delivered."

The customer success team, most of the time, is out of sync with what was sold to the customer but is held accountable for customer retention as it is their major KPI.

The customer success team then has to track client health in the customer success tool, which might not have all the accurate context of the client requirements, requests, deliverables on track or delayed, etc. before the go-live.

Finally, once the go-live happens, possibly after loads of delays, the adoption, needless to say, doesn't go as expected because not all the client requirements were delivered as per customer expectations (what was promised). The next set of worries is: why is the adoption not being expedited? What went wrong from the pre-sales stage to going live? And who is accountable for the delays or the gaps?

This is another area where the cross-functional teams will be at loggerheads in the organization.

In the end, the client is disappointed, and the possibility of churning goes up each day till the promised deliverables are completed. In several cases, customers churn if the gap between promised deliverables and timelines is just too high.

Looking at the status of almost all SaaS enterprises, one can say that customer onboarding plays a significant role in setting the right expectations for both the enterprise and the customer.

Possible Solution

To address the onboarding difficulties, it is important to have a customer-centric framework available across the cross-functional teams.

Enabling cross-functional collaboration through a common platform will help close the gap between the different teams as

  • It will be easier to track objectives at levels of use cases of every client, priorities, critical dates, etc
  • Examine the internal readiness status of enabling each of those use cases of the client
  • Prioritize, close any gaps and minimize ‘time to value’ for high priority use cases (critical for retention) of every client.

This fresh approach helps establish a robust ‘data-driven’ foundation for what follows next in the customer lifecycle– product usage, price realization, churn/renewal, and growth.

Conclusion:

With the increasing adoption of SaaS in almost every industry, it becomes mandatory for enterprises to adapt to a customer-centric approach in their business.

2022 will see an evolution and exponential growth in SaaS enterprises, however, the key differentiating factor would be the focus on “Customer Onboarding” and the “Churn Rate” of these enterprises.




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