Tips, Tricks & Best Practices

BQuarrell
Member

Best ways to onboard users as a SaaS company

Hi,

 

We are a just laucnhed a B2B SaaS company and are in the process of onboarding the HubSpot Professional suite.

we are looking at best ways to track all the information we would like from an onboarding and customer success perspective - we aren't big enough yet to have a separate ccustomer success platform.

We have 50 companies with 400 total users so far and sell annual subscriptions only. We don't have integrated payments and payments are done offline thorugh invoicing and currently everythign is manual to set up users on our platform

We are currently looking at using a ticket pipeline to onboard customers and setting up a workflow so that closed / won deals automatically set up a ticket with all the info our customer success manager needs to onboard, with a stamped annual renewal date.

Has anyone else has success with this approach or any learnings for using HubSpot as a SaaS company? Currently it seems great for the marketing automation  side of things and for raising support tickets but less so as somethign that helps us manage our onboarding and renewals.

Thanks!

3 Replies 3
stuartbalcombe
Participant | Partner
Participant | Partner

Best ways to onboard users as a SaaS company

Hey - congrats on the growth so far! This is a great question and one that we hear all the time at Arrows. While HubSpot might not be positioned as a common tool for onboarding and customer success but running those workflows in your CRM is great for a few reasons:

  1. Process. HubSpot has pipelines (both tickets and deals as you mentioned) specifically designed for moving customers through a defined process which provides critical reporting data and triggers for process automation.
  2. Communication. HubSpot being a CRM is designed to track customer activity, emails, and notes between all external stakeholders and internal teams. Reducing the need to ask customers for details previously covered in a previous call or email.
  3. Reporting. HubSpot has reporting capabilities built in making it possible to share key onboarding performance metrics with key stakeholders proactively or provide them with real-time access.
  4. Automation. HubSpot’s workflow builder and automation features help remove tedious and repetitive onboarding tasks from your team’s already overflowing plate.
  5. Data. Your CRM has all your customer contact records in one place and is probably integrated with the rest of your tech stack as a source of truth for all customer data (we do this via Hightouch to connect our Postgres database to HubSpot at Arrows).

Setting up HubSpot pipelines for Onboarding & Renewals
As you mentioned a ticket pipeline is a fantastic way to manage the onboarding process. I Would absolutely recommend this approach vs adding onboarding data in custom properties on a contact or company record because pipeline movements will always be timestamped making reporting much easier and you’ll have a visual way to see the progression of companies through onboarding and quickly identify bottlenecks.

We wrote a pretty complete guide on setting up HubSpot pipelines for onboarding including some common workflows and reporting.

Here’s a example ticket pipeline for onboarding:
Onboarding ticket pipelineOnboarding ticket pipeline

Creating a customer-facing plan for successful onboarding & renewals
One thing to think about when it comes to running your process in HubSpot (or really any customer success tool) is that it's internal facing, so as much as you get setup your customer doesn't have visibility.

To improve transparency and help everyone get a better understanding of what needs to happen next we recommend using customer facing action plans attached to each deal or ticket you create.

This way you can collect any information you need that would block getting accounts setup and customers up and running while also laying out the success roadmap that will lead to stress free renewals.

Here's an example of what a customer facing plan might look like, and also how it would show up in a deal or ticket to enrich your data and make it eay to see what's happening.

Example customer planExample customer planBesides providing a clear next step for customers you could also use the plan to:

  • Share files
  • Collect form submissions
  • Accept file uploads
  • Engage with comments
  • Set due dates for tasks and target dates for onboarding
  • Assign onboarding tasks to specific people (eg a technical person might need to install a snippet vs legal might need to sign a contract)
  • Embed 3rd party tools (Calendly, Drive, YouTube etc) in a shared experience
  • Automate reminder notifications to customers for next steps

With Arrows this customer facing plan would be attached 1-1 to a deal or ticket and plan data is synced into HubSpot properties allowing you to use it in workflows and reporting.

Customer facing onboarding plan in a HubSpot dealCustomer facing onboarding plan in a HubSpot deal

 

Automating onboarding workflows

1. Handoffs
I’d suggest creating a workflow to handle as many steps related to handoffs as possible to ensure they happen repeatably and without things falling through the cracks.

We see a lot of teams create a workflow that triggers when a deal in a specific pipeline moves to closed won. That workflow can then:

  1. Create a ticket in your onboarding pipeline
  2. Copy over relevant deal information and customer context from sales discovery
  3. Set a renewal date
  4. Assign an onboarding specialist or CSM. *If you have multiple people who work with customers during onboarding and renewals you could also add branching logic to route customers based on specific properties such as products/services purchased or persona.
  5. Create the customer facing plan (via Arrows)
  6. Send a welcome email to the customer with the first onboarding task they need to do
  7. Create any internal tasks that need to be assigned to setup or prep for the new customer

Example onboarding handoff workflowExample onboarding handoff workflow


2. Reminders and Escalations
Another workflow I really like for managing onboarding is to set thresholds for ticket property values and then send alerts or assign tasks based on them. For example:

If you are using a customer facing plan with due dates, you can sync the due date of the current task from Arrows to HubSpot and then if it is past due kickoff reminders to the customer and/or your team to follow up.

You could also use a similar workflow based on the time since the customer was last contacted or if they are within a certain number of days of the target date and have not completed specific required steps.

Depending on the parameters you could assign to the ticket owner, escalate to additional team members or kickoff a whole new playbook as needed.

3. Renewals and "health scoring"

No matter whether you use a dedicated CS platform or HubSpot to manage your customer onboarding and renewals process, the chanes are at somepoint you'll want to be able to see what customers are doing in your product and how engaged they are to identify churn risks and ensure you have all the information you need for renewal conversations. As mentioned briefly above this is absolutely possible we HubSpot.

I’d suggest putting account level data like product usage from external systems in custom properties on the company record and then using a workflow like the one below to copy it to the appropriate ticket in your onboarding pipeline whenever it gets updated. If the data is user specific you could of course do the same thing with a contact record.

Once you have the data in HubSpot you could use computed properties to create a score for each customer as shown below and then use a workflow to take action based on that score.
Simple health scores with calculated propertiesSimple health scores with calculated properties

The example shows how we pull customer product usage data from our software product into HubSpot company records and then push it into deals (which would work the same way for tickets).

Add product data to HubSpotAdd product data to HubSpot

 

 

Reporting on onboarding performance
A huge advantage of running onboarding and renewals using HubSpot ticket pipelines is you can drastically simplify the work involved in getting all your data together for reporting.

Here are a few onboarding specific reports I'd suggest setting up:
Example onboarding dashboardExample onboarding dashboard

1. Total tickets/deals in each stage of onboarding
This report is really helpful for quickly identifying bottlenecks and potential problem steps. For example do you have a lot of customers in a stage that requires a file upload? Are there many tasks in one stage? Is the point person for the customer not the right person to complete a task in this stage? 

Identifying the bottleneck is the first step in improving the process to remove it.

2. Total tickets/deals in onboarding by rep
Quickly see workloads and assignments to current onboardings/renewals. If you have a known threshold for the number of accounts a rep can handle this can also help predict hiring needs or the need for improved routing.

3. Incomplete tasks by rep
If you are assigning internal tasks for onboarding and renewals - this report provides a centralized place to see things that might be slipping through the cracks and impacting the customer experience.

Bonus
1. Reporting on onboarding progress vs team activity

HubSpot Custom Reports that combine data from both your team's activity and your customer's behavior during onboarding are a really powerful way to get insight into your customers progress and how effective your process is at making them successful.

This video shows how to setup an onboarding dashboard that also surfaces at risk onboarding's based on a threshold level of progress you set.



2. Segmenting onboarding/renewal performance by team member
I recorded a video here of how I would think about setting this up to show the impact team members have on the velocity and success of customers during onboarding.


In summary - running onboarding and renewals in HubSpot using ticket pipelines is absolutely possible and has a ton of advantages. If you have questions or want to dig into anything here in more detail I'm always happy to chat and we have a ton more free resources for building onboarding programs too if you're curious.

Jnix284
Recognized Expert | Partner
Recognized Expert | Partner

Best ways to onboard users as a SaaS company

Hi @BQuarrell 

 

This post from the community about handling renewals in the deal pipeline has tons of great info, including an app built by a HubSpot Partner Agency to make renewals even easier. Hope this helps give you a few ideas!


maka Agency
BQuarrell
Member

Best ways to onboard users as a SaaS company

Thanks! This looks really interesting and I will look in more detail, but it
doesn't quite answer the question around how people are using HubSpot to
onboard these customers and track their onboarding, does anyone have any
tips?
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