Products are vehicles to successful outcomes

Stuart Balcombe

March 10, 2022

4 minutes

If you want to help your customers be successful, there’s one thing that needs to happen first: stop measuring success by internal measures of output.

Here’s how that relates to a common onboarding misconception Donna Weber shared with me in a recent interview.

“Most companies I talk with equate onboarding with’s all about going live with your product. And then if a customer has your product and the products live, check the box.. They’re getting value. They’re done. And, it’s all good. But the reality is customers don’t care about your products. Sorry. Sorry to break the news.”

So what do customers care about?

“They’re really interested in being better at their jobs. They’re interested in transforming their business. They’re interested in saving time. They’re interested in making more money, saving money, and being compliant. Those are the reasons why people buy your products. So the goal is to help them reach value, not just to go live with your product.”

This highlights a critical difference between implementation and onboarding.

Implementation ensures that our product is configured, up and running and ready for launch.

Onboarding ensures customers have a clear path to achieving the outcomes they want to achieve.

And while implementation is a critical step in the journey, customers care much more about the outcomes you can help them achieve (as they define them) than your product.

Products therefore are just a vehicle to get customers from where they currently are, to where they want to go – a mindset shift from thinking about product features and functions.

The goal of onboarding becomes to assist people in making progress, in whatever context they’re bringing your product into.

3 steps for onboarding that drives customer outcomes

1. Talk to your customers

Get aligned on what success looks like to the customer as early as possible in their experience by explicitly asking them what success looks like, what are the things they hope to be able to do because they signed up for your product.

2. Create a shared plan for success

Once you know the outcomes customers are trying to achieve documenting the roadmap to achieving them helps keep everyone accountable to focusing on the activities that will actually get you there.

3. Continuously validate progress towards those goals

As with any process, once it’s documented it can be tested and measured. As you progress through the plan, continue to reference the outcomes you are trying to help customers reach and ensure that a) those are still the outcomes the customer wants to achieve and b) there is a clear next step to move closer to them.

Successful onboarding → Successful customers → Successful business 👏

Listen to how Donna Weber describes onboarding vs implementation

Starting with human-led onboarding is a fantastic way to get deep insights into why customers buy and the outcomes they want to achieve.

But, at a certain point you can’t keep adding team members and maintain healthy margins. As you grow, there comes a point when you have to translate what you know about customers into a more scaleable onboarding motion.

In the latest episode of the Onboarding Operations segment on the Happy Customers podcast, Donna Weber shared how she:

→ Distinguishes between onboarding and implementation

→ Uses a success plan as the basis for aligned onboarding

→ Addresses onboarding misconceptions and common red flags

→ Thinks about overcoming sticking points in the onboarding journey

→ Recommends companies go about scaling their onboarding programs

Listen to the full episode (30-minutes of onboarding guidance) and let me know what you think.

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