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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.
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.
Dave Ragals, SVP Customer Success, has been with IgnitionOne for more than a decade, holding several roles including Global Managing Director of Search and SVP of Client Services. Dave works out of the Atlanta office, guiding the Account, Professional Services, Technical Support and Implementation teams to ensure IgnitionOne customers are successful using Score-Powered technology. Dave also serves on the Advisory Board for the Muma School of Business at University of South Florida’s Digital Marketing Program. Previously, he was a founding partner of an interactive strategy and design agency, Armchair Media LLC, built with his former executive team at CNN Interactive where he was VP of News Features for 11 years.
Interviewed by Aishani Majumdar
/ / What are the technologies/trends driving customer onboarding today?
Making it repeatable. Too often – and we did this in the past – companies customize everything for a new customer. This creates unsupportable burdens in legacy technology, knowledge gaps, and too much time spent building one-offs and not enough time improving the product for everyone. This rabbit hole usually begins with a specific request, to which an onboarding resource fails to ask the key question – “what is the business need?” I’ve found that 9 times out of 10, we can solve the business need, and our solution – which is already built – is more than satisfactory for the customer. Often, it’s even better than what they were asking for (which makes sense, when you have smart Product people coming up with these features). And for that one in 10 we may not have, it’s either truly out of scope or a great idea that winds up in our product pipeline.
/ / 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?
Yes, we do, and it’s part of Customer Success. To me, this is critical, as it ensures the first team to really touch the account and get the customer on board is completely aligned in mission with the people who will be supporting it throughout the lifecycle. Put simply, you can’t have customer “success” without a successful onboarding.
/ / Do you provide onboarding services to all your customers or only to select customers? If the latter, how do you select these customers?
We’re a little more white glove than most companies in this space. We also primarily work with enterprise marketers with complex, sophisticated needs. We find truly managing the onboarding for them helps ensure a smooth start. It also helps set the bar for the quality of service they can expect from us moving forward.
/ / What are the channels of communication you use for onboarding customers (video call, phone call, email, chat or on-premise)?
It varies, depending on the customer and solution(s) being implemented, but we usually manage most implementations via phone and email.
/ / What are the top challenges you face in onboarding your customers?
Our system is pretty powerful in what it can provide to a marketer. And it’s also very simple to get it going. It’s not uncommon for a customer to start getting more and more ideas post-sale about how they want to use it. While we can typically accommodate all of these, it can lead to changes in priorities or scope-creep, which can actually wind up delaying time to value for the customer. So it’s important to lock in your plan and ensure all parties stick to it. Change requests, add-ons, new ideas, etc., are all inevitable, but unless there’s a very specific business reason to turn things upside down, it’s important to maintain the course and accommodate these later.
/ / What are the top benefits that you derive out of your customer onboarding program (increased CSAT, increased loyalty, positive publicity, or higher renewals)?
We all know that the key to survival – let alone growth – is recurring revenue. Keeping a high percentage of your customers is paramount, and at IgnitionOne, we’ve been fortunate in that regard. One big component of high retention is a smooth onboarding. It’s literally the first opportunity to create loyalty and satisfaction. I used to fly planes, and in aviation there’s a term known as the “power curve.” When you’re behind the power curve, it’s generally harder to recover. The same principle applies here. A bad onboarding will put you behind the power curve. It’s not impossible to recover, but the effort to do so is exponentially higher. This is generally reflected in NPS, renewals or simply the ROI of a customer.
/ / On average, how long does your company spend on onboarding each customer?
This also can vary greatly depending on the customer and solution(s) being implemented, but we typically have the initial components up and running in about a week. It’s important the customer starts getting value out of the products and solutions as early as possible. More complex implementations may not be officially complete for a few months, but we’re scoring users and feeding that into various systems for marketing purposes pretty quickly.
/ / Do you customize onboarding programs for different customers?
Each customer is different and has different needs, so to some extent, one implementation may take on different characteristics from the next customer’s. That said, you have to have a repeatable standard process. We’re constantly improving it based on learnings, but that’s different from customizing. Done right, it allows for tweaks and adjustments to accommodate a specific customer’s needs, but again, that’s envisioned and planned for in the process. If you start customizing too much, you create something you can’t support. And if something’s such a great idea or feature, why not build it into your product for all to benefit rather than customize it for a single customer?
/ / How is resource allocation for onboarding programs done in your organization? Are there dedicated account managers for each program?
Every account has a dedicated account manager. This consistency allows someone to truly know the customer’s needs and challenges, and it allows them to become an extension of the customer’s marketing team.
/ / What are the tools you use for customer onboarding?
We primarily leverage our proprietary tools and solutions, along with standard project management and document-sharing tools.
/ / Have you invested in advanced analytics to track the performance of your onboarding programs?
We are in the early stages of doing this. It’s critically important to understand both the ROI and LTV of our onboarding programs. We know they’re high – the more we invest in these processes, the higher the retention, feature adoption and growth. But being able to examine the direct impact of a single program or change can really help us optimize.
/ / What are the trends/technologies that you think will drive customer onboarding in the future? How should businesses gear up for this?
I think one area companies will be focusing on more in the onboarding phase is with privacy and compliance. It’s pretty clear that this will remain a focus of lawmakers around the globe, and after spending a good deal of time and money in retrofitting solutions to be GDPR-compliant, companies will be making sure their systems and implementations are as future-proof from a compliance perspective as possible. At IgnitionOne, we had planned for this in advance and didn’t have to make major adjustments mid-flight, which has paid huge dividends in our ability to keep innovating.
/ / In which areas of customer onboarding does your organization plan to invest over the coming years (scaling team, technology or any other)?
I see us investing primarily in being able to seamlessly connect to other endpoints, which, in turn, will make implementations much simpler. The more standard systems we can easily integrate with, the easier it is to onboard. We’re already doing a lot in this regard, and it will remain a focus for us in 2019 and beyond.
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
Let’s not forget the value of the human connection in customer onboarding
Nancy Porte, Vice President of Global Customer Experience, Verint