Measure Your Onboarding Training Efforts and Fine-Tune for Success

Barry Kelly
June 15, 2018

Meticulously crafted and iterated onboarding programs are crucial to your customer success strategy. The importance of training or, more specifically, behavior change, is not to be understated. A clear understanding of how successful your customer is “going to be” without a crystal ball is hard. This means that measuring those customer onboarding efforts are also equally as critical as the efforts themselves. So, how do we identify the KPIs that we can measure to become more predictive?

Because churn or cancellations are less frequent in the onboarding period, you will need to look at other key metrics for measuring your onboarding success. This means it’s going to be more relevant to define specific metrics that relate to behavior change or behavior enhancement. According to a survey shared by Harvard Business Review, less than half of executives (49%) reported that their firms use data to understand or predict higher-level customer needs. Which means that embracing good, predictive metrics habits can give your business a competitive advantage
Let’s take a look at two key metrics that will help you during the critical onboarding period.


One primary metric to pay attention to is “time-to-value”—stressing value—the concept that measures how long it takes for a user to gain success or value. How do you recognize when this has happened? First, it needs to be something that’s measurable. For instance, at Natero, a customer success platform, the company identifies how successful customers —those who continually renew—leverage the product capabilities compared to those who “struggle or churn.”

Aspects they monitor include which features are being used. From there, they create onboarding tasks that guide new customers to embrace similar behaviors. However, engagement in your software is only one part of the picture. Success comes not from how well your customer can use your software but how successful they can be with it. For example, when your product is able to help them see an increase in revenue, higher margins, better product, or more operational efficiency they’ll perceive that as success.

→ Read more about helping customers use your software: Driving Customer Success? Dial in the Right Mix of Application and Contextual Training.

The key is to find ways to measure success in the onboarding process, even when the customer is not yet live or fully operational with the product. First, build a success plan for each customer that includes value and defines goals for all of the stakeholders. Then, review whether or not you have met those goals at key milestones along the onboarding lifecycle. You need to be certain that the customer has seen success with the product. How success is defined may be multifaceted, but clearly articulated goals can be measured.
Success towards a goal = VALUE.

Level of Engagement in the Training

Other useful indicators include engagement in the onboarding process and not only whether a task has been completed in the product but how well it has been implemented. For example, imagine you are training a customer on how to use your email marketing tool. If they don’t engage in the behavior change needed to understand how to deliver highly-effective campaigns, then it’s not guaranteed that they will be successful even if they are using your software. The measurement is their engagement in the key training and being able to close the loop on whether they know the key principles of what makes an exceptional email campaign.

Find the metrics that make sense for your business

Often, the KPIs in the onboarding process that will matter are unique to your SaaS offering. What is universal to all organizations, though, is having a success plan for this part of the customer lifecycle. For some, this will require a shift in thinking and in what their standard measurements are. Without a doubt, product engagement is a key factor in training, even if it’s less relevant in the onboarding process.

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