Everboarding – not onboarding – is the next level of customer activation
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If onboarding is hard to do well, then “everboarding” is a whole new frontier. Put simply, everboarding is the idea that onboarding and activating customers never stops. Why?
Your product keeps changing and your user base changes, too
For one, your product keeps changing. Every time a new feature is launched, existing customers have to be “onboarded” to the new functionality. Second as your customer’s employee base changes, your product user-base changes. As Jonathan Rivers, CTO of Fortune Magazine put it:
“All B2B sales are actually B2B2C processes.”
You can't throw the kitchen sink at the customer
Finally, each customer can only absorb so much at once. Great onboarding doesn’t throw the kitchen sink at the customer nor does it end with the first moment of value.
Jonathan Corbin, VP of Customer Success at Hubspot, is the person I first heard the term “everboarding” from. He realized that the biggest gap to customers being able to utilize a product that they’ve bought is understanding how it can, or should, be used. But too many companies put product education behind a “gate” or deliver it in a way that feels like “classroom training.”
“We want to get to the point where the concept of everboarding is actually feeding information to the customer at the point, before they even realize that they need it.”
And this has to be done systematically because there’s such a high rate of user-turnover.
“You’re constantly re-onboarding and educating. You’re never ‘done’ and it’s important to think about the bite-sized components that comprise a holistic customer experience.”
So what does systematic “everboarding” look like?
At its core, everboarding has two core concepts:
- You’re never “done” onboarding or educating the customer about the ways they can get value from your product.
- In addition to the first user (often an admin), each new user adopting your product needs to be onboarded.
For that first user, the Success team needs to:
- Identify / verify the core use cases
- Scalably roll out customer-facing onboarding in bite-sized ways. That playbook is ideally a mix of consultation (here’s why you should do this), education (here’s how) and product CTA (click here to take actions).
- Respond and re-engage when actions have been completed. It’s important that teams are tracking product actions and not just engagement with content or a tutorial.
For the nth user, the Success teams need to:
- Discover / know what role that user plays
- Customize product guidance to that customer’s use cases. These nth users weren’t involved in the purchase or implementation of the product, so giving them appropriate context (what are the intended use cases) is key.
The benefits of having a strong everboarding strategy go well beyond Customer Success. For product teams, it means being able to consistently identify customers for new features, have a way to shape messaging, and a system to track adoption. To company leadership, successful everboarding results in higher gross revenue retention because it suggests an ongoing and growing level of value received from the product.
A great everboarding product experience should deliver these 3 things:
1. Deliver guidance in a way that drives action
Sharing information is a good first start, but everboarding goes past the “awareness” stage. To truly everboard customers, content & guidance needs to be embedded in the product, in a persistent home that users can return to when they’re ready to continue engaging.
Content and guides should be effectively customized to that customer’s use case and vertical, and intelligently reveal the next section when the previous is completed.
2. Scale and grow with your product
Everboarding happens today in many companies. The issue is that it can be haphazard, manual and expensive. Like with software, the first step is to turn those one-off messages, videos and screenshots, into reusable components. A good way of organizing these steps is into modules that are mapped to features or workflows, so that new product releases can be easily added.
Modules can be organized into playbooks that map to the most common set of use cases or verticals. Product automation can even expose these modules to the end user, so they can dynamically choose their own adventure. So long as a CSM can identify the customer’s use cases, they should be able to pick the right template to start with.
3. Effectively measure outcomes so the team can iterate on everboarding
The biggest gap today is that onboarding measurements are primarily about actions like email open rates, or whether a customer has clicked through a set of tooltips. These are good leading indicators, but don’t track whether the customer took the actions to see value.
Since no tool is perfectly instrumented, a realistic everboarding product should be flexible enough for a CSM or end-user to indicate whether they’re “done” with a step, or give feedback to how easy the step was to complete. That qualitative input isn’t a “flaw” — it’s reality.
An impatient end-user can create a bunch of junk data to trigger a system to mark a workflow as completed, so giving users a way to skip or indicate something is not relevant to them is a mutually beneficial escape hatch.
“Figuring out onboarding” started off as solving our own problems, but we’ve been really excited to hear how what we’re building for ourselves could be useful to other businesses as well. Let us know if you’re currently scaling customer activation and we’d love to help.
New in Bento: empty states
We’re turning “in-app” onboarding on its head. Instead of trying to wrangle spammy pop-ups you can now embed Bento contextual guides into a page and create an integrated user experience.
Early activation drives 3x better retention
Quantifying the impact of customer activation is hard because most companies don’t have enough data. But Culture Amp dedicated a year to collecting and measuring and saw a 3x difference in churn.
Everything you need to start everboarding* See Bento
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