It’s no surprise that engaged customers are the lifeline of a business’s success. In fact, customers who are fully engaged represent a 23% higher share in profitability, revenue, and relationship growth. 

How can you drive that engagement? Developing an education program to support your entire customer lifecycle is critical. At each stage — time-to-first-value, adoption, renewal, and lifetime value — training resources and support will teach your customers how to take advantage of your products and services.

Offering education programs lays the foundation for a long-term customer relationship. 

The key? Create a Customer Education program that quickly brings your customers to value. Enter: The onboarding program. 

Your onboarding program is more than one kick-off call or a few product training sessions. It needs to train your new customers in a way that’s efficient for the customer — and for your team. Maintain an effective onboarding program, and you’ll see a significant increase in customer engagement and reduction in churn. 

All three of these causes can be addressed and strengthened within a customer’s first 100 days! Get onboarding right, and you’ll set the stage for engagement over the course of your customer’s life. 

This article walks through onboarding your customers in their first 100 days with a training-first approach.

It assumes your organization has already built the foundations of an onboarding program. It also assumes your onboarding program’s model has incorporated education and training. If your organization isn’t there yet, here are some resources to get started building your onboarding program. 

Customer Onboarding Training: The First 100 Days

By Days 1-3

Start off strong with your new client and these important steps:

Understand your customer’s problems and goals they wish to achieve

Make sure you’re aligned with your customer on the challenge they’re hoping to solve with your product or service. From there, make sure to understand their goals, needs, and team roles. The Account Manager or Account Executive may be able to supply some of this information. Try to fill in any gaps by asking the customer directly. 

Collaborate with your customer on what success looks like with your offering. Common milestones could include ramping up a team by a certain date or launching a specific feature. 

This will help you and your customer work together with a shared understanding of what successful onboarding looks like. 

Outline your onboarding methodology

Paint the big picture before diving into the onboarding details. Provide your customer with an overview of the different phases of the project, the outcomes of each phase, and what resources will be provided throughout. This will help you smoothly transition into the how: how you’ll provide training to help your customer successfully onboard. 

Deliver a tailored training plan 

Once you understand your customer’s goals and set milestones, you’re well positioned to identify the resources and support they need. It’s time to deliver a training plan that teaches them how to use the features needed to achieve their goals.

Your training plan should communicate how your customers use your product, why they should care about your product, and how it will make their job easier. It may be free or paid, depending on your organization. Regardless, it should include: 

  • An onboarding course series that provides an overview of your approach to implementation
  • “Quick tips” lessons that drill into specific product functionality
  • Reference materials like eBooks and webinars that dive into specific use cases.
  • Easy-to-find buttons linking students to resources like their dashboard and your Help Center.

While these should be tweaked for each customer, you should have a few templated options you can customize to make this practice scaleable.

Here are a few recommendations when tailoring your training plans to a new customer: 

  1. Deliver a predominantly on-demand training plan. It enables you to support more customers and create a faster onboarding process. And it supplies your customers with the right content when they need it 24-7-365. This allows you to offer ongoing training when team members change roles and new people join.  
  2. Include a variety of foundational content to serve students with content in their preferred learning style. Include low-touch resources like written documentation, knowledge banks, recorded screenshares or webinars, infographics, and slideshows. And strategically layer in higher-touch options like live webinars, office hours, and instructor-led training where you think it would be most helpful to the customer. 

Build out specialized role-based training and advanced topics to give customers the ability to self-select into exactly the areas they want to learn. Within every organization, there are a variety of roles that require different types of onboarding, such as administrators, end-users, and partners.

By Day 10

If you don’t actively promote your training program, how will you attract new students? We recommend setting up marketing channels that guide your customers towards their training program, remind them to complete lessons, and recommend similar courses upon completion. You could also use marketing channels to celebrate small wins, such as your customer’s first time-to-value moment (completing a course, running through a product tour, etc)

Some recommended marketing tactics include: 

  • Triggered email campaigns. If you use a marketing automation tool like Marketo, Hubspot, or Pardot, you can set up automated outreach generated by pre-set triggers. For example, send a welcome email with “getting started” tips when a new student is added. Or, email a student who hasn’t completed a course prompting them to complete their training.
  • Drip campaigns. Rather than being triggered by an action, drip campaign emails are deployed on a specified timeline. Upon reaching the designated time, students will receive an email from your team. For example, this email might encourage them to enroll in new courses, with some suggestions, based on their specific point in the onboarding journey. 

Word of mouth. Ask those in customer-facing roles to spread the word about your training platforms. For example, Sales and Customer Success teams can include links to your training center in their email signatures and mention it on relevant calls.

By Day 100

By day 100, you should be able to look back on your customer’s onboarding training and get a deep understanding of its success — and areas of opportunity for improvements down the road.

Measure your onboarding training program’s success by the speed, effectiveness, and satisfaction of the onboarding process for customers who participate. If you’re replacing or augmenting an instructor-led process, you can also measure cost savings from offering self-paced training. 

To measure your effectiveness, use program optimization metrics. These reflect the current state of your customer education program. Examples include: 

  • New course enrollments
  • Course completions and completion rate
  • End-of-course survey feedback
  • Most popular content based on views or completions
  • Views, completions, and drop-off rates by content type

It’s also important to connect your program’s metrics to the business goals at large. Use business impact metrics to measure the impact of your program on customer retention, lead generation, and revenue.  

Examples include:

  • Revenue generation
  • Cost recovery
  • Customer churn reduction
  • Increased Customer Satisfactions core (CSAT)
  • Increased Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Improved upsell rate

For example, evaluate the impact Course Completion has on customer satisfaction scores or New Course enrollments of advanced courses, with reduction in churn. You should see correlation between the success of your onboarding and your organization’s business goals.  

After 100 Days

Develop a set of metrics and goals that are meaningful to your customers’ success and your organization.  Create benchmarks and track them regularly to show improvement and business impact. This should be an integral part of your team’s dashboard. As the numbers grow, so too will your business, and this data will support continued investment in Customer Education and ultimately in the health of your customers.

It’s also important to regularly review your metrics and revise as needed. If a certain metric is no longer relevant or if business objectives have shifted, then you can shift your focus accordingly.