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Onboarding Customers – How To Use Job Tasks For Superior Results

onboarding customers

When you’re onboarding customers, the end game is to improve the job performance of your users in ways that have measurable value to their organization. If that goal sounds familiar, there’s a good reason. It’s the exact same goal product managers aim for when they’re building new features and products. 

Onboarding Customers With a New Purpose

For all the great benefits of SaaS subscription models, the one downside or ripple effect is the heavy emphasis on just getting the customer up and running to get the monthly recurring revenue (MRR ) meter ticking.

That’s not to say the success of the customer isn’t important, but all too often it plays second fiddle to a go-live event. Then your poor customer success managers are left holding a big bag of issues to resolve just to get customers to the point of success they expected up front. 

Onboarding Customers by Job Task – How to Do It

Your starting point for success here is to first understand WHY the customer bought your product. Make sure you have clear answers to these three questions before you turn your attention to the job tasks.

  1. What’s the ultimate business outcome the customer wants from my product? It’s NOT to “automate” something! Dig deeper and find out the benefit or outcome of automating something.
  2. Why is that outcome important to the success of their business?
  3. What makes that outcome difficult or impossible to achieve?

With clear answers to those job questions, your next step is to find out which “job tasks” have to change to eliminate the obstacles and get the desired outcome.

Setting Scope for the Onboarding Project

If you take this approach, setting the scope for the onboarding project should be pretty straight forward. 

  • List the job tasks the onboarding project will focus on. 
  • For each job task, define the ideal outcome and why it’s difficult or can’t be achieved today.
  • Configure the product to make sure the customer can do each job task and get the desired outcome without most or all of the obstacles they face today.

The end result should mirror the business outcomes customers expected when they decided to buy your product over the competitor’s.

The Benefits of Onboarding Customers by Job Task

The typical process of onboarding customers revolves mostly around showing them how the product works. It’s a far cry from showing customers how to perform key job tasks and get the desired outcomes without the hurdles they faced before.

At the end of every typical onboarding project, customer success managers have a laundry list of features customers deem important to their success. That list keeps growing the more they use the product. 

If the customer onboarding process is framed around job tasks, the amount of clean-up after the go-live event will be significantly less because the focus is on improving specific job tasks and making it easier to get outcomes. 

One of the biggest benefits comes in the form of product enhancement requests that go back to product management. The product enhancement requests that surface with a job-task implementation take on a completely different tone and come with full context. Customers will ask for features by job task, complete with desired outcomes and obstacles standing in the way. 

How many feature requests are you building every day without any context around the job customers are doing, why it’s critical to their success and why they can’t get there? Answer: Too many!

Product managers, if you’re reading this, take notice of the how-to approach laid out above. If you follow the exact same process before you build any features, you’ll make the customer on-boarding process exponentially easier, not to mention product positioning and sales demos. Here’s why.

The onboarding process is where your job tasks stories come to life in the real world. It’s the ultimate acceptance test. Can the customer perform the job task and get the desired outcome without encountering most or all of the obstacles that make it a problem today? If the answer is yes, you’ve hit paydirt!

If product marketing uses that exact context to position your products and sales does the same for presentations and demos, you’ll accomplish a feat unknown to most companies – connecting the customer value dots from product management to product marketing to sales to customer onboarding.

The Bottom Line on Job Tasks and Onboarding Customers

Here’s the bottom line. The reason you build any product or feature is to make your target users quantifiably better at specific job tasks that have value all the way up to the top levels of the organization. 

It’s a value-first approach to managing, marketing, selling and delivering products with measurable strategic value, to the customer and to your own organization.

Click here if you want to experience the easiest way to learn product management, product marketing, pre-sales demos and customer success with our unique hands-on learning format. Be sure to check out our Product Management Framework that simplifies everything by making customer outcomes the starting point for building, marketing, selling and delivering strategic value.

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by John Mansour on January 17, 2024.