I’m not a competitive swimmer, but lately I’ve had the chance to observe how much time swim coaches spend on leaving the wall. Whether a dive, flip-turn, or strong push, it’s an important moment in the race. If poorly executed, it takes a lot more energy to gain your momentum mid-swim than it takes to get things right at the outset.
Twilio’s Customer Onboarding team coaches customers through the launch phase of a new Twilio product so that they can get “off the wall” and swim. We’ve seen that having a well-planned implementation strategy can accelerate time to a successful launch – and we’ve also seen the costs to customers working to remediate a problematic launch. A “successful launch” means, for example, that your solution can deliver messages to inboxes and SMS to handsets right from the start.
In this article, I will share the common steps in the Twilio product onboarding process. I'll explore some of the Customer Onboarding team's best practices for a successful launch. And – if onboarding services interest you – I'll share how you can learn more about Twilio’s offerings.
The product onboarding process
Twilio product onboarding is a linear process, but it can be more or less complex depending on your use case(s). For some businesses, onboarding is complete once the product goes live. But for others, such as for an ISV or partner, you might need iterative go-lives to work up to the more complicated aspects of the use case.
Here is a 3-step look at the Twilio product onboarding process:
- Pre-launch: In this phase, you will analyze and socialize your use case. You'll also plan your account structure, complete steps like your domain authentication and Trust Hub registration, and configure your accounts.
- The testing phase: This shape of this phase depends somewhat on the product you are launching. In general, the focus is on preparing your channels to deliver to inboxes and handsets as expected. You'll also isolate and address issues before they undermine your overall performance.
- Ramping to full production: In this phase, you’ll launch your solution and begin to track its performance. When necessary, you’ll have iterative go-lives, steadily building to the most complex aspects of your use case.
So, how long does this process take? For less complex implementations, we can complete a successful onboarding in 4 weeks’ time. For more complex use cases, we’ve found that it can take anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months.
In a longer scenario, you will launch your application relatively early on. The remaining time allows you to scale up to reach your application’s optimal performance.
Onboarding Best Practices
Twilio’s Customer Onboarding team staffs a new implementation with two roles:
- A Technical Onboarding Manager provides project management and accountability for the product launch.
- An Onboarding Engineer provides technical expertise as customers plan and build their account structure.
Below are 5 best practices that your onboarding team uses to ensure a successful product launch.
Assemble the right people
Consider who you need to have at the table and get them involved early. Some team members will be part of every conversation, while others will step in at strategic points. A strong team on the customer side usually includes the contract owner, product owners, project manager, and of course, developers.
Bonus! These implementations often present an opportunity for uniquely cross-functional teams to collaborate.
Align around your use case(s)
To some on the implementation team, the need to discuss your use case and desired results will feel obvious. But skip this step at your peril.
Everyone on the team needs to be clear on how you will use the new Twilio application, why you’re building a new app, how long your timeline spans, and how you’re defining success. If debate arises, embrace it. On the other side of that debate, the direction will be more clear.
Build the account structure you need for the future
Onboarding Engineers often help customers think through how to set up their accounts with an eye on future needs. If your Twilio account follows a legacy account structure, it can be tempting to keep it in place to get off the ground quickly. However, if that structure does not give you room to grow, you may have problems down the line.
Explore decisions related to projects and sub-accounts, messaging services, and APIs, so that you build the solution that meets your current AND future needs.
Test your channels
Reaching your recipients through your chosen channel is not a given. Messaging, voice, video, and email are each unique ecosystems with forces that influence the delivery of your content. Testing your application in a structured way in small batches allows you to confirm that it can reach your audience AND maintain a positive reputation with carriers and email providers.
For email, we take the concept of testing a step further. A “warm-up” is the process of taking a new, or “cold," IP address and sending mail to small controlled recipient lists first. Once you see success with the small lists, you can gradually increase your list sizes until you hit your target.
A warm-up helps you build a reputation with internet service providers (ISPs), telling them that you send emails that people want. Without a warm-up strategy, your solution may fail right out of the gate.
With proper testing and warm-up, everyone on your team should feel comfortable and ready for the go-live.
Go-live(s) and evaluate
The final stage of implementation is here, and it’s time to push off the wall and swim. You can now start to operationalize your use case.
As we mentioned, complex launches might require a few rounds of go-live, so take some time to map out your strategy. This is a good time to be sure you are comfortable with Messaging Insights for Programmable Messaging, Expert Insights for Twilio SendGrid, and Voice Insights for Programmable Voice, as well as any data monitoring your team needs to manage on your side.
Customer Onboarding Services
The steps and best practices shared above are a guide for getting started with your Twilio product launch. But sometimes you need help. The Customer Onboarding team offers product onboarding services tailored to your unique use case and budget.
If you’re interested, talk to a Twilio Account Executive to learn more about our Premier and Premier+ Onboarding offerings. We can't wait to help you build!
Abby Ford is the Content Manager on the Customer Onboarding team at Twilio. She dreams of being the type of mom that builds a Twilio-powered robot with her kids. Reach her at aford [at] twilio.com to find out if she’s any closer to making that a reality.