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Customer Success in Salesforce: Using Salesforce to Power Onboarding

The onboarding phase stands as a pivotal stage within any customer journey. Is your Salesforce set up to maximize this stage? 


The onboarding phase stands as a pivotal stage within any customer journey. It serves as the juncture where the promises made during sales begin to materialize. This phase provides a unique opportunity for companies to foster trust with their new customers by delivering on the commitments made during the sales pitch. At this point, customers are typically most engaged with the new product or service they've purchased, willing to invest time and effort into its adoption.

Consequently, ensuring a seamless onboarding process becomes paramount, as it sets the stage for the long-term success of the customer relationship. Salesforce can provide valuable functionality during this critical phase by implementing various strategies.

Transfer of Information from Sales to Customer Success

Facilitating a smooth handoff from Sales to Customer Success is crucial to provide a cohesive experience for the customer. All relevant information gathered by Sales during the purchasing process should seamlessly transition to Customer Success. This eliminates the need for customers to repeat themselves and empowers CS to design a comprehensive onboarding plan based on a complete understanding of the customer's needs and expectations.

To facilitate this handoff, Sales should record essential details before closing a sales opportunity, such as:

  • Reasons for the customer's purchase
  • Products or services acquired
  • Customer expectations
  • Key stakeholders involved in the onboarding process

While Customer Success may delve deeper into these aspects during the onboarding phase, having this fundamental information readily available at the outset significantly aids in establishing a solid foundation for future interactions. To make the data points required before closing an opportunity, validation rules and field dependencies can be set up.

Pipeline Tracking for Onboarding

Customer Success should remain informed about potential customers likely to make a purchase soon. Reports highlighting imminent sales deals can facilitate collaborative discussions between sales and CS. Additionally, automated notifications via email or Slack can alert CS about prospective clients on the verge of signing up. This proactive approach enables CS to effectively plan for upcoming onboardings.

Monitoring the Onboarding Progress

Defining the onboarding process outside Salesforce is crucial. Having a clear, documented process ensures that every Customer Success Manager (CSM) comprehends the necessary steps for successful client onboarding. Teams can use Salesforce to streamline this process by:

  • Setting up an opportunity record type and specific stages to track the onboarding journey. Alternatively, instead of using opportunities, teams can instead leverage a custom object to track the onboarding process.
  • For simpler onboarding processes, employing tasks or automated emails assigned to designated CSMs so no onboarding steps are missing.

A combination of both methods can be advantageous, utilizing a pipeline for tracking broader stages and tasks/emails for specific actions within those stages.

As soon as a new sales opportunity is won, automation within Salesforce (usually Flows) should create the onboarding tasks and/or onboarding opportunity/custom object to ensure the CSM has a way to track required steps.

Using reports and dashboards, you can see where each customer is in their onboarding journey to understand any actions that still need to be taken or any onboardings that have stalled. These data points should be reviewed regularly by the CS team to ensure Onboardings stay on track.

Assigning CSMs to Customers

Once a new customer is acquired, prompt assignment to a CSM is imperative. Automated assignment mechanisms based on territory rules, team allocation, or round-robin systems can be set up using Salesforce Flows. This automation minimizes delays in reaching out to new customers and ensures streamlined customer ownership tracking.

The CS ownership of the customer should be tracked either in the ‘Owner’ field or a custom field user look-up on the Account object. Any onboarding or renewal action items (tasks, onboarding opportunities, renewal opportunities, etc.). should be assigned to the CSM.

Automated Communication and Reminders

One of Salesforce’s greatest strengths is the amazing automation capabilities that require no coding. Actions performed within Salesforce can trigger tasks, email reminders, Slack alerts, or automated emails to customers. This ensures immediate assignment of tasks to CSMs upon winning a new customer and aids in maintaining organization and efficiency.

Additional productivity features within Salesforce include:

  • Dashboards and reports to monitor onboarding progress and performance, enabling efficient workflow management. Some key onboarding reports include:
    • Onboardings in progress (by CSM, by Segment, by territory, etc.)
    • Upcoming onboardings - onboarding for sales that are likely to close soon
    • Success of past onboardings - did past onboardings set customers up for success with your company?
  • Email templates for standardized communication during onboarding stages. When onboarding a new customer, some handy email templates include:
    • Welcome email templates
    • Email templates for each stage of the onboarding process
  • Customized views to organize and manage records that CS oversees, ensuring a focused and actionable approach. Crucial views for CS managing onboardings include:
    • My Active Onboarding Pipeline
    • My Upcoming Onboardings
    • My Open Tasks
    • My Overdue Tasks
  • Roll-Up fields allow for insightful data aggregation, such as open upsell opportunities, recurring revenue, or nonrecurring revenue from opportunities on an account.
    • Pro-tip, if you want to create rollup fields between a look-up and detail accounts, you can use the amazing community application, Declarative Lookup Rollup Summaries. Using this app you can create rollup fields such as number of open cases on an account, number of decision makers on an opportunity, etc.

When it comes to customer onboarding, Salesforce emerges as a pivotal ally, facilitating seamless information transfer, proactive pipeline tracking, and efficient automation. Salesforce stands as a cornerstone in forging enduring customer relationships, ensuring a streamlined onboarding experience that fosters trust and sets the stage for long-term success.