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Susan is an independent digital communications and user experience strategist. She helps companies discover their brand voice and grow their business.
Shubharthi is currently part of the strategic marketing team at Regalix. His expertise mainly lies in the account-based marketing and programmatic advertising space.
Priscilla is a content writer who has worked for Infosys Technologies and other technology startups in India and abroad.
Moulishree is a freelance journalist with over 7 years of experience, she writes research-based analytical stories on technology and business.
Avanish is a Bangalore-based journalist who writes on business with a specific focus on technology companies.
Priyanka has covered every aspect of the IT industry as a tech journalist since its early days. She is now an independent writer, working on subjects like digital marketing, enterprise technology and high-performance computing, among others.
A freelance content writer, S. Sahu was the former editor of TCS's house magazine at Tata Consultancy Services. He developed tech marketing collateral for the company and helped compile and edit books and journal articles on TCS's technology innovations. He also ghostwrites print and online publications.
Prajwala is a Bangalore-based freelance journalist who writes on social issues, stories of human interest, and art and culture, among others.
Rajesh Nanarpuzha is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at IIM Udaipur. Previously, he has worked as a brand manager in Dabur, and as a business consultant in the retail and consumer goods domains at Cognizant and Tata Consultancy Services. Rajesh has an MBA from IIM Indore and a doctorate in marketing from IIM Ahmedabad.
Priyokumar Singh Naorem
He is a passionate UI & UX designer who thrives on creating engaging creative solutions.
A freelance illustrator, artist, graphic novelist and designer. She has designed and illustrated several book covers. Her personal illustrations so far have attempted to seize the fleeting absurdity and mood of places, things and people she encounters in a childlike, intuitive and expressive manner with closure, beauty and innocence – the things that she desires.
She is an artist and an educator who has taught and lectured at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Oxford University, the Victoria and Albert Museum among other institutions. Her installations, paintings, thread work and sculptures have been exhibited in Saatchi Gallery - London, C24 Gallery - New York, and Museum of Contemporary Art – Lyon, among other notable galleries and museums from around the world.
Purna Chandra Mahato
A commerce graduate from Delhi University, Parul pursued a masters in fine arts from Nottingham Trent University in the UK. As an artist, she is interested in line as a subject which has led her to follow architectural lines in built environments. She says she is also interested in how we perceive the environment that we inhabit and what happens when a subtle shift is made in things which we have been used to seeing in a certain way. We present six of her artworks here.
Shweta Malhotra is a graphic artist and designer from Mumbai, based in New Delhi.
After working with ad agencies and design studios for close to 8 years, she branched out on her own and currently works independently.s Her overall design aesthetic is minimal, bold and graphic, a response to the maximalist visual language prevalent in India.
Rithika Merchant (b.1986) received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Parsons the New School for Design, New York in 2008. She has exhibited extensively since her graduation. Recent exhibitions include a duo show “Reliquaries: The Remembered Self” at TARQ, Mumbai; “Language of the Birds: Occult and Art” at 80WSE Gallery, New York; and group shows at Summerhall, Edinburgh and Artry Gallery, Kochi. Her work has been included in multiple group shows at Stephen Romano Gallery and The Morbid Anatomy Museum, New York. Born in Mumbai, she now divides her time between Mumbai and Barcelona.
Aniruddh Mehta is an artist based out of Mumbai, India. Trained in graphic design from the London College of Communications, Aniruddh is a self-taught illustrator and currently works as an independent freelance designer. He believes in finding the right balance between art and graphic design. He has worked closely in collaboration with Bhavishyavani Future Soundz, Qilla Records, Taxi Fabric, Adidas, Dell and United Colours of Benetton. He also goes by the moniker, ‘thebigfatminimalist’ and his style ranges from bold minimal forms to more intricate pieces exploring patterns and geometry.
Paramesh is an artist who enjoys working in both the realistic and abstract style of painting. He loves working with water color. Featured in this issue are a set of water color works that he has created exclusively for us on the subject of digital transformation.
Based in Mumbai, Chandrashekhar Thakur is a Senior Art Director and Illustrator at Truebil.com and the Founder of HAPPiNESS For You. He loves working with new styles of art and considers illustration to be his forte. Chandrashekhar has completed his BFA from DY Patil College of Applied Art.
Concept and Direction
Head of marketing at Regalix, Nimish drives research in emerging technologies and customer experience, and takes a keen interest in creative arts.
Nancy Porte is the Vice President of Global Customer Experience for Verint. With a background in operations management, her passion is developing differentiated customer experiences through cross-functional collaboration and employee engagement. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP), regular contributor to the Verint blog and frequent speaker at industry conferences.
Interviewed by Aishani Majumdar
/ / What are the technologies/trends driving customer onboarding today?
Our online customer community wasn’t started as an onboarding tool; but today it is a valued part of our Customer Experience (CX) program’s onboarding work. Online communities can help solve many of the challenges of communicating with customers during the onboarding process—and can help you do so without a huge resource commitment. Turnover is a common occurrence in customer accounts, and when the players keep changing, it can be difficult to provide the right people with the information they need. In an online community, you can create a group for new customers so the ones you need to reach are easily available. New customers can also network with others and access your knowledge base to find best practices and tips for getting the most from your products.
Another important driver for customer onboarding at our company is an Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) system, a Voice of the Customer (VoC) tool that helps us stay in touch with customers at various points in the onboarding process. Their feedback helps us see if everything is on track, if they need additional materials or if they have encountered an obstacle. Case management tools can help categorize the feedback and send alerts to the appropriate department or person to respond quickly with an action plan, whether it’s a sales, implementation, support or other issue. An EFM system uses analytics to monitor trends in the feedback, so you can stay on top of major issues and implement changes accordingly.
/ / Do you have a standalone customer onboarding team? If yes, under which vertical (sales, marketing or customer success) does it function? If no, is the onboarding function outsourced?
Within our marketing department, my CX team leads the onboarding initiative, but individuals across the organization have a hand in it. It is truly a multi-departmental responsibility. I believe that, especially for a software company, an onboarding program isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s essential because of the complexity of the products and the fact that they are becoming part of and changing the way the customer does business. For that reason, our customer onboarding program is part of a broader customer experience initiative to develop and nurture Customers4Life, a continuum that starts with onboarding and then continues into engaging customers in other ways once they get settled in.
/ / Do you provide onboarding services to all your customers or only to select customers? If the latter, how do you select these customers?
That’s the beauty of the online community. It makes it easier to provide onboarding services to everyone, and we do. We will strive to customize some parts of our onboarding program for certain customers and devote resources to that in the future, but the online community currently performs well in supporting all our customers, answering their questions and helping them connect with us in a way that is most relevant to them.
/ / What are the channels of communication you use for onboarding customers (video call, phone call, email, chat or on-premise)?
We use all of them, but we begin with an email, a formal thank-you note to the decision-makers. The email welcomes them and gives them the ability to guide their teams to the digital community. Through these communication channels, we share various content assets in which there is sometimes an overlap between the documents we provide and the documents provided by our implementation teams. One of the benefits of the online community is that we don’t have to overwhelm new customers with reams of reading materials. The content assets are available when they need them via the community and our integrated knowledge management system.
/ / What are the top challenges you face in onboarding your customers?
Our accounts are so large and so complex that knowing all the people in the account who need to be onboarded is one of our biggest challenges, especially in cases where we’ve sold into different parts of an organization. Really knowing who needs what and when, living up to our commitment of personalizing and giving them the right information at the right time is very important to us.
For inspiration, I always think back to a terrible personal onboarding experience I had when I purchased a wireless keyboard that didn’t work. The company was so unresponsive that I was ready to throw the product out the window! I think about that experience and then multiply it to fit a typical customer of our company, where we might be implementing a complex software program into a call center with 50 staff members and 20,000 users. We don’t want a single one of them to have an experience like mine with the keyboard. When facing onboarding challenges, the Verint customer community is a huge help, letting us be more available to everyone whenever they need us—and doing it in a scalable way that is manageable for our organization.
/ / What are the top benefits that you derive out of your customer onboarding program (increased CSAT, increased loyalty, positive publicity, or higher renewals)?
Building customers for life. That’s how we define loyalty, and it starts with a commitment to make our customers successful. Currently, our most important metric is our loyalty index, but we also look at improving overall satisfaction in each of our key areas. In addition, this year we are establishing metrics and ROI measures for each of one our Customers4Life programs. The metrics are easy to identify, but the challenge, especially for a company like ours that is constantly growing, is obtaining consistent data when you have a number of different systems in place across the organization. The key is to keep it simple. Measure the basic things like loyalty and customer satisfaction.
/ / On average, how long does your company spend on onboarding each customer?
Our philosophy is that onboarding never really stops, making it a difficult metric to quantify regarding how much time is spent on each. Customer expectations change. So do key players. As customers acquire new solutions they need more of our focus. It really is an ongoing cycle without an end date. I know some CX professionals say onboarding spans from the time of purchase to the time the solution is integrated within the customer’s business operations. Others say training marks the end of onboarding. My view is that you haven’t completed onboarding until you have successfully shown the customer how their business operations have improved as a result of your work.
/ / Do you customize onboarding programs for different customers?
Occasionally our account executives go beyond our standard onboarding blueprint. They will customize their meeting style and frequency, and might develop a specialized check-in schedule depending on the needs of the customer.
/ / How is resource allocation for onboarding programs done in your organization? Are there dedicated account managers for each program?
Account executives are responsible for our top-tier accounts, and CX works with them to develop the onboarding approach for their clients. For smaller customers we look to the CX team to apply our standard onboarding plan.
/ / What is the role of automation in customer onboarding?
Alongside the technology tools we covered earlier, let’s not forget the value of the human connection in customer onboarding. Our company has done extensive global research showing that, while customers do value the automated tools that help them engage quickly whenever they have a simple request, they also value interacting with a human for a more complex issue.
We can’t—and shouldn’t—automate everything. We know, for example, that one of the things we should nurture is that initial sense of excitement when a customer makes the decision to purchase a product. That thrill can wane through the implementation process since the customer is usually experiencing a high level of change. One thing we do to prevent that is to celebrate milestones—after the first product is installed, for example, and on important dates thereafter. It keeps us involved with the customer. It keeps their spirit alive. And it lets them know we care about their success with our products.
/ / Have you invested in advanced analytics to track the performance of your onboarding programs?
Not yet. But we use analytics to help design and shape our onboarding program—what works with clients in the first few months, for example, and what doesn’t, what customers expect, how we are meeting those expectations and how we can do better.
/ / What are the trends/technologies that you think will drive customer onboarding in the future? How should businesses gear up for this?
Online communities will continue to have a strong influence—and artificial intelligence (AI) will play a bigger role. AI can make information easier to find for customers—and it also helps companies understand their customers better. By seeing their actions online and understanding where they are in the onboarding process, we can predict what they need next and provide it before they know they need it. AI can also inform the onboarding team how the customer has interacted with the company over the past week, for example, and highlight the successful moments and those that need follow up.
/ / In which areas of customer onboarding does your organization plan to invest over the coming years (scaling team, technology or any other)?
We’ll continue to build scalability into the program. And our strategy is that, as we use analytics to measure our success and our ROI, we’ll have clear direction on how to build new teams and where our existing ones need to be strengthened in order to meet customer expectations.
Onboarding as a customer journey
Customer onboarding is one area where improvements made could tangibly affect business metrics positively.
A good onboarding experience leads to trust and high satisfaction
Narsi Subramanian, SVP of Customer Success & Support, MapR Technologies
Customer onboarding is key to delivering high-quality experience to customers
Aaron Hudson, Division Vice President, Implementation & Amar Sidhu, Senior Vice President, Service Delivery & Production, ADP
Align content assets to each step in the onboarding journey
David Karp, Executive Vice President, Customer Success, Numerator
Avoid the cookie-cutter approach in customer onboarding
Silvia Veronese, VP of Global Customer Success, Guavus
Connecting customers with each other is crucial for onboarding
Mathew Sweezey, Principal of Marketing Insights, Salesforce
Locking in your onboarding plan to address scope-creep
Dave Ragals, SVP Customer Success, IgnitionOne