The Basics of Customer Onboarding

Onboarding is perhaps the most critical phase in the customer journey – if nothing else, it sets the tone for the relationship – and is too important to just slap together and hope it works.

Please ensure you’re giving the Onboarding process – and your new customers with whom you currently have a very fragile relationship – the attention they deserve.

So let’s start here.

If you can’t answer these questions with confidence, that’s a problem:

  • What does “onboarded” mean in the context of your customers?
  • Is it the same for each customer segment?
  • At what point is your customer onboard?

Let me help you answer those questions…

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Success Potential: Real Customer Success Starts Here

Customer Success starts with acquiring customers that have Success Potential.

Customers that have Success Potential are said to be good fit customers. This is the opposite of bad-fit customers that cannot get value from a relationship with us now or in the near future.

If you knowingly allow bad-fit customers to be acquired, nothing else you do in Customer Success will have the result you’re hoping for as those customers – no matter what you do – will never achieve their Desired Outcome.

You can’t solve upstream problems downstream.

To help you better understand and implement the concept of Success Potential in your business, here are some resources I’ve published on the subject.

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Account Expansion: How to Upsell Unsuccessful Customers

Getting your customers to buy more from you is awesome. Remember, you’re in business here and getting customers you’ve already spent money to acquire and serve to then expand their relationship with you - giving you more revenue - just seems like a … [Continue reading]

Customer Growth: Why Lack Of Expansion Is A Really Bad Sign

Customers buying more from you is awesome. I mean, you're in business here and getting customers you've already acquired to expand their relationship with you just seems like a super-efficient way to grow. And it is. So when you have customers that … [Continue reading]

Account Expansion: If You Want To Grow Fast, Do This…

If you want to grow fast, don't do what most companies do! When most companies want to eke out some quick incremental growth, they'll often have their sales people turn to their existing customer base to make some sales. After all, you have a captive … [Continue reading]

Customer Growth: Upselling Hurts Trust (When You Do It Wrong)

When it comes to Customer Growth or Account Expansion (upselling & cross-selling), I assumed people knew that... don't have to hurt the relationship with your customer to hit your numbers. doesn't have to be a difficult slog that you … [Continue reading]

Customer Growth: The Difference between Sales and Expansion

If you missed it, I'm done talking about churn. If you have a churn problem, read this post and follow my directions. Churn won't be an issue for you anymore. Now we can move onto GROWTH! And the first order of business is understanding the … [Continue reading]

Eliminate Churn Forever in 5 Simple Steps

Churn... ya boring. Yawn. Time to move on. I'm so over talking about churn and if you really understand what Customer Success is all about, you should be, too. Churn is so easy to get rid of... you just have to do five simple things. If churn is a … [Continue reading]

Introducing the BEAST Message Framework for Customer Engagement

Let's talk about Customer Engagement, specifically one part of the Communication Model, which is my BEAST Message Framework for creating messages that actually engage customers. It's really interesting that we communicate all day long - with our … [Continue reading]

Introducing the Customer Engagement Communication Model

Let's talk about Customer Engagement, specifically the Communication Model. We communicate every day, all day. We communicate with friends, family, co-workers, industry peers, customers, vendors, celebrities, trolls, politicians, restaurants, … [Continue reading]

Churn Classification for Customer Success Management

Customer Success is when your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company. If you focus on Customer Success, churn will not be an issue. At least in theory. To take that from a simple theory to your Operating … [Continue reading]

Sales is Part of Customer Success

Sales is part of Customer Success. Like it or not. No, I don't mean the Sales organization should report to the Customer Success Management org. I mean that Customer Success as an Operating Philosophy, as a way of doing business, includes sales. It … [Continue reading]

Appropriate Experience is Required for Customer Success

Customer Success is when your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company. As I've said before, Customer Success as a concept is very simple. Don't overthink it. But I always have to unpack one piece of that … [Continue reading]

What Are The Best Customer Success KPIs?

As you can probably imagine, I'm asked all the time what the best Customer Success KPIs are. What metrics should you use to know if your Customer Success initiative is working. Here's the deal. I'm not an analyst... I'm a consultant. Companies hire … [Continue reading]

You Can’t Solve Upstream Problems Down Stream

When it comes to Customer Success, I've seen a lot of things. I've seen what works (and what works REALLY works... it's amazing). Unfortunately, I've also seen what doesn't work. A lot. In 2017 I heard "Customer Success doesn't work" way more than I … [Continue reading]

Customer Success is a Simple Concept (Don’t Overthink It)

Customer Success is a very simple concept that you'll really want to overthink. Resist the urge. The beauty of this concept is in its simplicity. Implementation is another story, though. But the concept is simple. My definition of Customer Success … [Continue reading]

Customer Success can’t fit into Existing Frameworks

I've been battling more and more misconceptions when it comes to Customer Success than the fewer that I expected. I assumed as Customer Success became more well-received, moved more into the mainstream, and simply became more common that we'd all … [Continue reading]

Those aren’t Problems. Those are Customers!

I work with companies around the world as a Customer Success consultant, I speak at events, and I do workshops. I'm constantly teaching others about Customer Success. And even more, I'm constantly learning. My understanding of Customer Success is … [Continue reading]

Customer Onboarding Success Secret: Don’t Overwhelm Customers

I've said this before, but it is worth repeating; Customer Success is not limited to one part of the customer lifecycle, and Customer Success Management is not limited to simply helping the customer get up and running at first or to save them from … [Continue reading]

A QBR is NOT Required for Customer Success

There's a myth in Customer Success Management that you must conduct Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) or Executive Business Reviews (EBRs) with your customers. This myth is propagated by those who only work with high-touch customers, by software … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: The Importance of User or Customer Onboarding

Customer Success is not limited to one part of the customer lifecycle, and Customer Success Management is not limited to simply helping the customer get up and running at first or to save them from churning later. Rather, when a company has Customer … [Continue reading]

How to Define Roles in Customer Success Management

Most companies just getting into Customer Success start by defining roles (well, one... Customer Success Manager), then they try to figure out the size of the "book of business" the CSM should handle, etc. That's wrong. But I won't leave you hanging! … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: High/Low/No Touch Customer Segmentation

The traditional Customer Success method of simply looking at what a customer pays us and giving them a particular level of 'touch' is old and outdated. It's time to logically segment customers based on Appropriate Experience (AX). For context, on … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: Incorporating High/Low/No Touch into Onboarding

Proper Customer Onboarding isn't done to prevent churn; it's done to ensure the customer achieves their Desired Outcome. Retention comes from that. But what is "proper" customer onboarding? Let's find out. For context, on Friday, May 19, 2017, I did … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: How to help Salespeople with Customer Segmentation

The age-old issue of Customer Success and Sales alignment, only this time focused on segmentation. This is my attempt to definitively address this eternal quandary. For context, on Friday, May 19, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: Determining Which Customers on which to Focus

From a Customer Success perspective, this is the wrong question to ask. You must "focus" on all customers since proper Customer Onboarding is critical for all customers to achieve their Desired Outcome. The way you operationalize around all of your … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: Who Should Handle Upsells?

One of the great Customer Success questions - regardless of how many answers are given or by whom - that refuses to ever actually be answered is who should handle upsells... sales or Customer Success. This is my attempt to definitively answer this … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: How to Reset Mismanaged Expectations

Carefully. One of the biggest drains on Customer Success Management resources is customers that have not had their expectations properly managed and having to work around that. Avoid that where you can by doing things correctly from the outset, but … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: Customer Engagement Across the Entire Lifecycle

Customer Success is when your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company. Those interactions occur across the entire lifecycle. I define Customer Success Management as the process of moving customers toward … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: Working with Customers that don’t like Technology

Luckily this type of thing is rare, but with Customer Success as our operating philosophy, or Customer Success Management as our operating model, we need to work within the confines of our customer's comfort zone... not ours. This is a … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: How to Tell Customers What to Do

For many Customer Success Management teams, it's easy to fall into the trap of 'just let your customers figure it out.' In fact, it's easy to think that's in their best interest. Leave them alone and they'll discover what they need to on their own. … [Continue reading]

How to Get Customers to Help Define Engagement Models

Don't hide from your customers. Don't pretend you know everything. Talk to your customers and figure out from that discovery process what your engagement model should look like. You can then extrapolate segment-based models or, for some customers, … [Continue reading]

Customer Success-driven Marketing: Targeting Offline Customers

Customer Success should drive everything your company does, including sales and marketing. When it comes to targeting customers that aren't online, first, I'd push back on the assumption that your customers aren't online. Second, I'd remind you that … [Continue reading]

Lincoln Murphy Customer Success AMA Transcript and Video – May 19, 2017

On Friday May 19th, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video is embedded below, along with the questions that were asked and my answers. Yep, if you don't want to watch or listen, no problem! I … [Continue reading]

The Process for Discovering your Customer’s Desired Outcome

Customer Success is when your customer achieves their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company. Desired Outcome is Required Outcome + Appropriate Experience. Each customer segment will have its own Appropriate Experience (AX) – … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: How to Close the Feedback Loop with…

Customer Success Management, Marketing, Sales, Product, and the Executive team all have unique information about the customer. This includes how the customers talk about what they do, how they talk about and use our product, how any of this aligns … [Continue reading]

Customer Success and Upgrading Grandfathered Customers

If you've been in business for any amount of time, you likely have customers that you've "Grandfathered" into old pricing tiers or feature sets that are obsolete now. How can you get Grandfathered customers to move to your current pricing model in a … [Continue reading]

Customer Success in Early-stage Startups

Early-stage startups think Customer Success isn't for them. Wrong! Not only is Customer Success for startups (along with established companies), it's also your key to growth without the friction of churn and bad-fit customers distracting you from … [Continue reading]

Drawing the Line between Customer Success and Support

How do you draw the line between Customer Success and Customer Support? This seems like a logical question until you understand the reality behind operationalizing Customer Success Management. Let's dig in... For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I … [Continue reading]

The best Customer Success Management (CSM) Software

What is the best Customer Success Management (CSM) Software on the market today? As you might imagine, that question comes up frequently for me. Below, I try to give you the best answer I can on this very important piece of your Customer Success … [Continue reading]