Onboarding an enterprise can be daunting, to say the least. Training thousands (if not tens of thousands) of people to use your product is nobody’s idea of a cakewalk.
But the rewards of getting it right are so high that you have to do it, and the consequences of getting it wrong are so dire that you have to make sure you do it properly.
If users within an enterprise can’t learn to use your product, they won’t get any value from it. And you can probably guess what won’t happen next.
Word won’t travel around the enterprise about your product (unless it’s a bad word that we won’t use here in case any children are craning over your shoulder to read this), other departments won’t use it either – and your lucrative Enterprise customer probably won’t renew their contract.
That’s a nightmare scenario for any vendor. (It certainly gives us the heebie jeebies.)
But now let’s wax utopian: if your potential users within an enterprise are able to learn to use your product, they’ll probably (shocking, we know) use it. Then they’ll encourage others within the enterprise to use it too – and there are thousands of other users and potential users within and outside of their enterprise.
Successfully onboarding your product to an enterprise has huge financial and reputational upsides. So it should come as no surprise that something so lucrative isn’t easy to pull off …
What makes customer onboarding within an enterprise so challenging?
Firstly, you have to take account of individual differences when onboarding any size of user group – so onboarding a huge enterprise user group obliges you to account for a boatload of differences.
Here’s some differences between users to consider:
- How they’re going to use your tech (and how important it is to them.) Some will be power users, others only occasional users. Learning how to use your product might be very important for some users – and less so for others. This will determine what type of onboarding they need.
- How much time they have to onboard. They’re busy doing their day-to-day work – so where does onboarding fit into their schedules? (You don’t want onboarding to negatively impact or cause risk to day-to-day operations.)
- Their learning style. Do they prefer to study for themselves, or to be led by an instructor, or a mix of the two?
- How tech savvy they are. Are they already expert technology users, or do they have trouble remembering how to attach documents to emails?
- Their attitude towards change. Do they welcome learning new technologies with open arms or is there institutional resistance?
A second challenge that’s a lot bigger and trickier to deal with at enterprise scale is that of siloed teams and departments. Enterprises are prone to siloed structuring, and this can make it hard to get the word out, particularly if your product is only regularly used by one team.
What’s more, enterprises don’t just have more users to onboard – they also have more products competing for their users’ attention and usage. There’s a jostling crowd of products within most enterprises that it can be tough to stand out in.
And there’s more bad news: enterprises are much less forgiving of unsuccessful or slow onboarding. If you haven’t successfully managed to onboard users to your product, they’re more likely than SMBs to have the cash flow to move onto something else – and fast.
This often happens when new leadership comes in, bringing their own tech with them. They need to demonstrate the ROI of their preferred tech and won’t hesitate to get rid of yours if nobody’s using it – particularly as it’s harder to secure high-level champions within an enterprise.
Your contact at an enterprise may be at a lower-level than your contact in an SMB, and if that champion moves on (as is more likely at larger companies) without sharing their knowledge of your product, it will be dead in the water.
Clearly, then, it’s both important and challenging to get enterprise customers onboarded. So how can you address some of these challenges?
Here are 3 tips to get you started …
1. Start small at first (to go BIG later)
Selecting a single team within the enterprise to onboard first will save you having to deal with the fiendish complexity of designing onboarding journeys for thousands of users at once.
Plus, if you choose the right team to be the enterprise’s first user group, it could get your product off to a flying start.
You’re looking for a team of tech-savvy high performers who have the strongest motivation to use your product of any team in the business. Found them? Now identify some superusers within that team who can act as your product’s champions. If you’ve chosen well, this could be pretty much the entire team. Let them in on your proof-of-concepts: they’ll learn the living heck out of the product and spread their knowledge around.
Remember, just because you’re starting small doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels. Adoption on a large scale will only come after success on a small scale.
You’ll need a set of success criteria (including KPIs to improve) right from the start of your POC or pilot program, and you’ll need to monitor, measure and be a true partner with your enterprise customer throughout the onboarding process.
Keep in mind that it’s not only your product you’re embedding, here. Build strong relationships with the members of the team you’re onboarding first – and use these as springboards to build relationships with other internal stakeholders from across the enterprise, to build scale.
Which brings us to point two …
2. Know your stakeholders (and then involve them)
We’ve already covered the perils of having only one champion (or only a few champions) in a large organization. To summarize: if they leave, your product loses.
It’s vital that you get as many stakeholders invested in your product as possible, ideally before you even start onboarding. And getting them on board means getting to know them first.
Do your homework ahead of time. Talk to all the relevant leaders in the enterprise to find out what’s most important to them and their teams, who within their team will use your product first, what parts of your product they might adopt first (and second, and third, etc.), and what goals they have post-adoption (i.e. what they want to accomplish most with your solution).
Also, find out how these key stakeholders like to communicate, whether that’s via calls, emails or a project management system. Then communicate. Check in regularly with them to take their temperature on the implementation process and your product.
Is the onboarding going well? Is the plan on track? Are users using your product? Are they finding success with it – and are there any KPIs or stats to share? (Incidentally, it helps to make it easy for them to supply you with an answer. Set up reporting beforehand that you or your champions can check regularly – anything to make it easier to check up on your product’s impact.)
Your champion can obviously play a big role in helping you do all this. They can possibly even do it for you. Don’t forget, though, that it’s your job as the vendor to help them do it – and to help your product scale to other teams by succeeding as early as possible.
Your goal in all this: to ensure your champions and the managers they report to, the peers they interact with, and the people who report to them all understand the value of your product and, ideally, use it themselves. Priority targets for onboarding should be those who are best positioned to help the company realize the business value of your product, including business line leaders and those working in ops roles.
3. Remember: despite the scale, you’re dealing with people here
It’s easy to forget when you’re onboarding a business (particularly a large enterprise) that you’re really onboarding human beings who want to be treated and talked to like human beings.
Equally (especially during onboarding), you don’t want people within the enterprise to forget the human beings at your end. They need to know that your product is supported by your people, and that those people are ready and willing to help their people with whatever issues they have.
Providing a human connection can go a long way to making them warm to your product – and use it. Provide a primary and secondary point of contact (who can be reached via as many communication channels as possible) who can offer support and guidance to enterprise users whenever it’s required
And if you can find ways to bring human connection into your onboarding process, so much the better. While some users will be content to learn by themselves using tutorials and videos, others will prefer to be guided by a human expert who can talk them through everything at a pace that suits them.
You need to give those users that option. And not just on one or two initial onboarding calls. Onboarding is now (for a variety of reasons that we cover extensively in our last customer onboarding blog) a continuous, full-time activity.
Whenever a user in your customer’s enterprise feels they need a human to help them use your product better, offer them that help and they’ll not only be more likely to use your product (and use it well) – they’ll also feel happier about and closer to your company.
You never know: onboarding could be the start of a beautiful customer relationship.
A killer tool for onboarding customers at enterprise scale
Q: What unites our tips for onboarding?
A: They all emphasize closing the gap between you and your enterprise customer’s users.
By getting closer to your product’s users, you’ll understand what they want from it – and what they aren’t able to get from it. You’ll also be there for them when they need help onboarding – either as entirely new users or as existing users who need a refresh or who want to get more value from your product than they’re already getting.
Of course, there are many potential channels through which to communicate with your users.
But if you’re looking for a solution that makes it easy for your experts to connect securely with users, inside your website or application, in real-time, and upskill them rapidly … well, there’s really only one solution that fits the bill.
If you’d like to find out more about how Glance makes onboarding easier, faster, and closer to full-time, read our Guided Onboarding ebook. It might just convince you to onboard your business onto our product.