Digital Contracting

How a streamlined customer onboarding process is crucial to B2B success in 2018

customeronboardingThis is the fourth feature in our 6-part series from our COO, "Thinking Like a Tech Company in 2018". This series highlights the shifts in consumer behavior and its impact on how we do business today. 

In our Thinking Like a Tech Company series, we've introduced the concept of consumer-driven business models, where to identify these opportunities in your current workflows, and how to make your customers' purchase journey into a profitable one. Our next item to tackle is customer onboarding. This process, to many businesses, comes with several hurdles, resulting in stalled growth, decreased product adoption, and lower customer satisfaction. It's no secret that a streamlined process from purchase-to-use solves for these key areas, but it's sometimes difficult for businesses to know where to start.

Not every business needs to completely reinvent themselves in order to streamline how they work with customers. For example, take a look at your current contracts and the workflows involved to easily identify areas to simplify. This sounds simple—and that’s because it can be! Every business uses contracts, so let’s take a more specific look at where B2B businesses can standardize contracts to simplify complicated workflows that bog down growth.

These are five areas businesses can standardize immediately and see instant results:

  1. NDAs
  2. Employee onboarding forms
  3. Sales contracts
  4. Free trials or evaluation agreements
  5. Data Processing Amendments or Addenda

Start small and try to bucket out a specific portion of your customer base and move them towards a more standardized service model that you can scale.

Example: How Formstack Standardized Its Terms and Agreement Process 

Formstack is a form-building and workflow solution that helps optimize online conversion and streamline internal workflows to reduce data entry duplication. The business was able to standardize a large part of its customers’ terms and agreements process. When data policy Safe Harbor was repealed in 2015, Formstack found itself on the verge of a major problem. The company had to figure out how to extract data from Europe to The United States, whereas previously through the Safe Harbor agreement, the company could do so without the large clerical mess of tracking down and recording every single signature. Without a solution in place, the company would be left to email and track down every signature—totaling in the hundreds or even up to the thousands.

Turn a Potential Issue Into an Opportunity

Identifying this as an opportunity to streamline its business and not a roadblock to actually doing business, Formstack partnered with PactSafe to develop a long-term, scalable solution to support the thousands of signatures required. The solution is an enforceable contract embedded into Formstack’s website that targets any user whose admin account is based in the EU. A pop up appears on the website displaying the agreement with a check box for acceptance. Once accepted, the pop up closes and the signature is tracked through PactSafe’s legal analytics.

Not all customers fall under the same category, and when Formstack recognized that, the company was able to strategically streamline its contract process and prevent a bogged-down workflow to completing business.

Build an "Account Center" With Easy Access to Important Legal Documents

Part of onboarding new customers that is paramount in building any new relationship is confirming what a customer has bought during the sales process. To start the relationship off on the right foot, a business will usually have a kickoff call or introductory experience with a new customer that reviews the purchase and what it includes. We've seen some of our more progressive customers like CDW build tools like an account center—or portal—where customers can easily access the contracts they've signed in real-time without needing to search through their hard drive or email.

How a Centralized Account Center Retains and Wins More Business

These types of experiences improve the clarity of your customer relationships and earn you the trust of your buyer to carry you forward through a successful and fruitful onboarding process. Bonus points for integrating that account center into your native experience—but it should, at a minimum, have 24/7 online accessibility for your customer.

Example: Drift's Team Billing Settings


More and more companies are embedding an account center where subscriptions can be easily viewed, edited, and updated accordingly. Add in the very relevant chatbot that suddenly wants to talk to customers about upgrading, and you have a highly personalized customer experience.

The only thing missing? Showing the customers other important terms that are a part of their subscription, including refunds, cancellation policy, SLA, and more.

Why contracts?

We've talked a lot about contracts as it relates to customer onboarding. That's because contracts are fundamental in establishing new customer relationships in B2B. We've seen dozens of businesses reinvent their process for contracts, making them more seamless and integrated into their ideal flow.

What has been a seemingly necessary part of the way things have always been done (sign this, sign that...) can turn into an opportunity to surprise your customer with something easy and different.

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Read our Thinking Like a Tech Company Series

Our 6-part series from our COO, "Thinking Like a Tech Company in 2018" highlights the shifts in consumer behavior and its impact on how we do business today. 

Here are parts 1-6 in this series:

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