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Employee onboarding tips from customer success experts

Successful onboarding is a lot like cooking from a recipe, you’ve got the list of ingredients but how much of each you use, the cooking time and presentation depends on your culinary goals. Let’s leave the kitchen and get back to the office. What we’re saying is that there’s so much great advice out there, but you should use it at your discretion to achieve your goals.

But if you were to seek out some recipes, you’d use Michellin Star chefs, right? That’s why we’ve asked the experts in customer success to talk us through onboarding. 

Dan Farley, Vice President, Customer Success at Seenit

Dan explains the three principles to onboarding and training new employees at Seenit: Exposure, Process and Empower. 

While Exposure means that your start to life at Seenit is in “the deep end, exposed to customers directly and expected to put yourself out of your comfort zone”, process gives you the tools to thrive through time “spent educating around our internal processes and how we ensure we are a customer-driven engine.” Lastly, new reps are empowered to “set creative challenges”, while Seenit “encourage scrutiny into our current way of working” to gain valuable insights from those onboarding. 

Emma Tiegan, Head Of Customer Success & Operations,  SmarterQueue

If you’re onboarding employees remotely, you might want to take a leaf out of Emma Tiegan’s book. With onboarding and training at SmarterQueue having always been remote, they’ve created a comprehensive training checklist in Asana, which is filled with educational tasks for every new hire. 

“The checklist contains detailed instructions with some tasks linked to our dedicated onboarding area in our internal wiki. This is filled with the information every new starter needs, starting with culture and expectations.”

Lauren Cumming, Head of Customer Success at Fixflo

A new joiner’s understanding of the products and processes in place can be key to how quickly they’re settled and contributing, which is something Lauren highlighted when speaking to us.

“We aim to give everyone a holistic overview of our business strategy and an understanding of how each team works, rapidly grow product knowledge and ensure that our new starters understand our Customer Success strategy, the projects we are working on and the processes that underpin how our team functions.”

This means that each Fixflo joiner is given introductory sessions on topics like the product, industry and customers, alongside tasks and demos to complete, a product checklist and reading from the internal knowledge base.

Troy Pratley, Head of Customer Success (EMEA) at Amplience

The approach at Amplience is to give new joiners the time and tools to become thought leaders, before they’re interacting with customers. Troy explains that: “I want my Customer Success Managers (CSMs) to feel comfortable before they engage with customers. I don’t want them to feel that they can’t answer questions when they go to meet customers. Also, it doesn’t really benefit the customer either because they feel they have a CSM who doesn’t know anything.”

So, what does this mean for the onboarding experience? Well, this translates to a three to six month settling in period, in which there is no customer engagement for the first two months. Instead, they’ll use a sandbox area to understand the platform, take tests that show how they’re getting on, and talk with stakeholders across the business.

“They need to know who to speak to in the business as a whole, and understand the value of the platform. If you can’t describe what the value is as a CSM, you’re not really in a good place.”

Violaine Yziquel, EMEA Customer Success Management Team at Box

Do you love structure? If those four words touched your list-loving soul, you’ll love the “super structured” onboarding process that Box implements. 

Violaine explains that “it starts with two weeks at the headquarters in Redwood City (CA), to get the culture vibes, but also to ensure the same level of knowledge is shared across all teams: product, positioning, core values and role plays. It also allows [us] to create bonds across regions, and Boxers usually keep contact with their BoxCamp mates.”

It’s not just those two weeks that feel welcoming and well-structured, this continues through their settling in period with the Customer Success Management Team. Violaine adds that “in EMEA there are key people we want them to meet, specific tooling sessions planned, a buddy assigned, weekly reviews of the objectives, so that they feel part of the team from the very beginning.”

Nuno Paiva das Neves, Head of Customer Success (EMEA) at SafetyCulture

When we interviewed Nuno, he touched on two aspects of the SafetyCulture onboarding process: knowledge and culture. As you can see below, he believes that you need to understand how much they know about the area they’re joining before onboarding, while ensuring they get a flavour for your company culture as they settle in.

“I think that it’s key that if we’re recruiting people to success roles, I’m very keen to understand what their knowledge is  of customer success, as a practice. We’d then provide company-generic onboarding.”

“I think the culture side of this particular role is absolutely key. We have a unique and fantastic company culture, and that is one of the aspects we always include. Then everything related specifically to success — playbooks, customer journals, tools, metrics.”

Angela Guedes, Head of Customer Engagement at Typeform

While all employees complete a two-day about general practices and customer success, Typeform’s Customer Success Managers will have one month of training that applies solely to them. As Angela explains, this is designed to provide product knowledge, expose them to customer supports and see the flow of managing customers.

“The first two weeks include in-depth training on support and product as well as on all product features, integrations that we can do. We then show them the live queue of tickets so they can work with the support team for a bit. This way, CSMs can see the flow of how to deal with customers.”

You can find the full interviews with these customer success experts in our blog’s inspiration section. 

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