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How onboarding boosts retention | Knowledgehook's Travis Ratnam

Neel Desai Nov 17 2021

The team over at Knowledgehook has a value few other companies can provide: solving problems for problem solvers. With their mission to “support the development of teaching skills necessary for every teacher to make every student numerate,” you may not need much convincing that their heart is in the right place. The value here is that in order to develop a tool to help educators, you need to have an empathetic view of schools.

I sat down with Travis Ratnam (Co-Founder & CEO), Chad Bewley (Director of Programs and Outreach), and Meaghan Greene (Training and Learning Lead). They shared their learnings with Knowledgehook and had plenty of retention knowledge to impart on to you.


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Show takeaways

Key points discussed in the episode


No matter what type of business you are in, no matter what you're doing, everyone has one goal and that's connecting the customer to value.”                                                                                                                                                                                                         

– Chad Bewley

Onboarding in a group setting

  • Travis and the team talk about changing their approach with school district onboarding. Initially, Knowledgehook would onboard district by district with the intent to trickle down the understanding of the product to principals and teachers. They shifted this process to instead onboard multiple districts at one time with key stakeholders present. Not only does this help Knowledgehook in terms of scale, but they're able to foster connection and community, which instills value in the product.

Breaking down customer cohorts

  • At Knowledgehook there are three key people: there is the end user who uses the tool, there is the economic buyer, and there is the technical decision maker. They have assigned individual storyboards for each of these, which help with pushing deals forward. Additionally, they have created story cards for each team on customer success so that they know the journey for teachers and district leaders. These storyboards and cards are helpful but only illuminate what’s on the surface. They still double click on individuals to understand common bottlenecks in the customer experience.

Think outside the traditional CS box

  • The Knowledgehook team understands that you can't have expertise in every single area. If you don’t seek help from different disciplines or outside sources, tunnel vision can lead to structural collapse. A key asset that the team found helpful was sourcing an outside panel of researchers. This panel offers insights into what the value of the product means to them as educators separate from the core team. The Knowledgehook team gets external validation and transforms the way they have conversations.

Take Action:

In order to attract high-value customers and, in turn, make them stick around longer, you have to make sure they have the necessary tools and information related to your software to propel success.

To help you on a more tactical level, here are five tips to build a successful customer onboarding plan:


1. Map the multiple customer journeys by persona

Assign a unique customer journey to each target persona. After understanding your customers, who you desire to target, and how to turn your target audience into leads and customers, you can now map out the journey that will lead them to you. Your customers' goals and feedback should form the basis for creating this journey.

For you to build a better experience entirely, remember to get the basics right before advancing deeper. So know your customer's basic steps from discovering your solution to buying it, and finally becoming a loyal user. 

2. Have a customer engagement goal

Retention derives power from well-played customer engagement. Happy customers engaged with your product usually tend to be more loyal and spend more time and money with your company. 

Improve your customer engagement tactics, and you'll see your retention rates go up. This rate will, in turn, keep you a step ahead of your competition. 

3. Ask new customers for feedback on their onboarding experience

Encourage those customers that just went through the experience to air their opinions about it. These customers are your most significant source of insight about what makes the experience good or bad, as it's fresh in their minds.

Their feedback will give you the proper insight to improve both their experience and your product. While that seems obvious, most companies either create their onboarding in a void or ask customers who went through the experience long ago.

When customers feel their opinions are considered, they feel valued. In the long term, this helps create loyalty these customers can become advocates for your brand.

4. Connect with super-users for input on what can be improved

The most crucial assets in your company include your existing customers. This group can offer real-time customer feedback about your solution, value, and how they've benefited from it to gain success. 

Your existing customers can also award you with excellent social proof that you can present to leads and prospects, leading to higher conversion rates. 

5. Iterate on your customer onboarding process by cohort

It's worth mentioning that building a solid customer onboarding experience that produces better metrics is not a set-once-and-forget process. Instead, it needs a highly iterative approach.

Along the way, some of your assumptions may turn out to be wrong. But you may not need to make over your entire onboarding process.You may realize that the customer journey you mapped out for a particular cohort had some bottlenecks or barriers. Improving your customer onboarding process by cohort will facilitate the iterative process. 

And don't be discouraged, as it's part of the whole onboarding process and will help you improve. Continue iterating to refine the process and ensure you're targeting the given personas with the right tactics.


If you’d like more insight into your own retention—or even a free retention audit where we can benchmark you with actual relevant data—reach out to me at


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By Neel Desai

Product Lead, ProfitWell

Subscription market insights you won't find anywhere else.