How to ensure customers and developers are on the same page [Q&A]

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It should be the case that in the business world systems deliver for the customer. But often there can be conflict between what the customer wants — usability and feeling valued — and what the developer is looking to provide — technical mastery, collaboration and self-serve capabilities.

We spoke to Gilad Shriki, co-founder of Descope to discover how enterprises can satisfy the needs of both.

BN: What is developer and customer onboarding and why is it important?

GS: Developer onboarding is the process of integrating new developers into a new software project and customer onboarding is the process of guiding new users through the initial stages of using a product or service.

Both are extremely important, and if done successfully, can lead to increased productivity, improved collaboration and higher customer satisfaction. Developer onboarding itself is crucial in terms of developer productivity, consistency, and team collaboration. On the other hand, customer onboarding is crucial when it comes to user engagement and customer retention.

In Descope’s case, developer and customer onboarding meld together because developers are our customers. In fact, for us, ‘customer onboarding’ takes on another meaning i.e. ensuring that our customers’ customers have a seamless authentication experience.

BN: What are the key priorities and goals shared by both developer and customer onboarding experiences?

GS: When it comes to developer and customer onboarding, the main focus should be to make each experience smooth and hassle-free from the start, minimizing those initial setup headaches and ensuring a user-friendly experience to leave a positive first impression. Especially in B2C applications, first impressions are everything. A bad onboarding experience can be the difference between acquiring a new customer or not.

With that said, both experiences should aim to lay out the product’s value and functionality, fostering engagement through personalized communication, and guiding users towards success. Speed matters too — both developers and customers want to see value quickly. Lastly, building trust is crucial. Showing reliability, support, and responsiveness to build that confidence and loyalty is key.

BN: Given the nuances of the audience and objectives, how do you address the technical considerations unique to customer and developer onboarding?

GS: There are many distinct differences between end users and developers when it comes to onboarding. If you’re an end user, you don’t want to dive into documentation, let alone code or code samples — simplicity is key. The product should speak for itself, and anything you read while using the service is directly part of the experience. It’s also all about usability, creating an emotional connection, and delivering perceived value for customers. Clear instructions, relatable stories, and a focus on problem-solving really resonate with folks looking for a smooth ride.

Now, if you’re a developer, you’re more of a self-starter. You want a straightforward onboarding process and ongoing support, but you also crave a lot of materials such as documentation, APIs, code samples, or tutorials. Catering to developers means emphasizing technical mastery, collaboration, and self-serve capabilities. Robust documentation, code snippets, and a community-driven problem-solving approach empower developers to handle tasks on their own and reach out for help when needed.

BN: How do you approach customer vs developer retention?

GS: When approaching customer and developer retention — the main objective is to avoid annoying your end user. If you want your customers to keep coming back, it comes down to the onboarding flow. Nail down the right authentication method, refrain from bombarding them with too many questions on the first visit, and ask the right questions when it makes sense.

For keeping developers on board, implement very minimal marketing and only connect with them when they run into issues. If you can determine when they’re running into problems and help them troubleshoot, they will thank you for it, but be mindful when reaching out to a developer who is using your product. There is always a reason that they haven’t reached out to you yet.

BN: How can companies measure the effectiveness of both processes?

GS: When considering developer onboarding, monitor the occurrence of errors and bugs overtime, as a decrease in both will indicate an improved code quality. Another important metric includes measuring the time it takes for a developer to get fully integrated into both the project and the team. A gradual reduction in ramp-up time shows that your onboarding process is seamless and highlights your dev team’s ability to collaborate and communicate effectively.

Customer onboarding success can be measured beyond retention rate by tracking user engagement, analyzing the number and nature of support tickets initiated by new customers, and tracking the adoption rates of different features.

Before implementing both onboarding processes, you should establish baseline metrics and continuously adjust based on feedback and data, constantly contributing to ongoing improvements and better outcomes for both your developers and customers.

Lastly, old tactics apply when measuring success. Consider feedback and surveys asking specifics around customer challenges faced and suggestions for improvement.

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