The purpose of customer onboarding is similar to that of employee onboarding. Your goal is to make customers feel as if they have made the right choice to avoid churn.
The last thing you want is to find yourself in a position where you’ve spent a lot of money winning their business, only to find that the customer quickly flakes away.
In general, there are two main reasons for customer churn.
- The first is that they don’t understand what your product offers. Business clients, for instance, might not find all the features on your software products by themselves and go away with the impression that it does not meet their needs.
- The second is that customers are struggling to derive value from your product. That is, they understand how it works, but don’t know how to use it in a way that benefits them.
The purpose of optimising and improving the onboarding experience is to avoid losing customers caused by these issues.
There was a reason that your customers decided to go with you in the first place: they believed that your product could solve their problems. The purpose of onboarding is to ensure that they keep thinking that.
The onboarding process should be a continuation of the sales process. It’s your job to hold the client’s hand and show them how your offering can improve their lives. You want the transition to be as seamless as possible, continually engaging with your clients from the sales stage onwards.
Why Is Creating A Memorable Onboarding Experience So Vital?
Creating memorable onboarding might sound great in theory – but why would you want to go to the effort?
It turns out that being able to set the tone for the rest of your relationship with your customers is vital. Data show that most businesses lose upwards of three-quarters of their customers in the first week. More than half of customers will use a free trial and then never come back again. And happy new customers are often so enthusiastic that they’ll work to get referrals.
In short, it pays to have a memorable onboarding experience.
How To Create A Memorable Customer Onboarding Experience
Many inexperienced business owners and managers work hard on their sales process but fail to do the same for onboarding.
A customer signs up to their services or buys their products, and they then have no idea how to best continue that relationship. It’s a costly mistake and one that you want to avoid if possible.
Customers want you to lead them through the process of using your products to greatest effect, and they trust you to do so. If you don’t, they’ll go elsewhere.
So how do you create a memorable onboarding experience? Let’s take a look at some best practices…
Get To Know Your Customers
Just as in the sales process, one of the most important things that you can do is to get to know your customer, understand what they want, and then work with them to achieve the desired outcome.
Part of knowing your customer is in understanding their “pain points:” all the things that they don’t like and want you to resolve. Discovering pain points is often touted as a fundamental part of the sales process, but companies need to recognise their importance in the onboarding process too.
Customers still need reassurance, even after they’ve bought the product, that you are willing and able to help them overcome their issues and resolve their problems. Doing so will convince them to extend their relationship with you and feel comfortable in their decision to buy.
Carefully Craft Expectations
A rookie mistake that many companies make in the customer onboarding process is driving expectations too high. Your company is probably pretty good at what it does, but it’s not magical. You can’t deliver a six-month project in two weeks.
Setting clear expectations is a vital part of the onboarding process.
Your task is to reiterate all of the features of your product and how it can help the customer. The clients shouldn’t be under any delusions about what the product will help them achieve.
Setbacks will inevitably arise, so it’s your job to point these out at the opportune time, reminding your customers that, just like everybody else in the industry, you have limitations.
Try To Impress And Create Positive Experiences
Just because a customer has signed up to your service, doesn’t mean that you should stop seeking to impress. Being impressive isn’t something that you need to confine to your sales process: it’s something you should strive to do throughout your relationship with the customer, including during onboarding.
Impressing customers during onboarding usually requires holding something back at the sales stage. You want to convince your customer that you’re the best in the business, but you want to keep a few tricks up your sleeve so that you can continue to delight them as their relationship with you develops.
By all means, sell, but continue to give them reasons to rave about you even when they’ve signed up.
Celebrate Milestones Along The Customer Journey
Many of the relationships that customers have with companies are long-term, especially on the B2B side of things. As you and the customer develop your relationship, you slowly but surely help them meet their objectives and get things done.
Celebrating milestones and “wins” is an integral part of the onboarding process. Every time you achieve something together, acknowledge it and ensure that the customer sees the progress being made. Highlighting wins helps to prove your worth and encourages customer retention.
Many companies like to manage customer expectations for when milestones will be achieved. For instance, SEO agencies might inform customers about what to expect from their service in the first 90 days compared to what might happen to their page rankings over a year.
Generate A Welcome Email
Customers don’t want to sign up or buy a product and then be forgotten. They want to feel acknowledged and welcomed. If you run a paperless or online business, then a welcome email is a great tool that can be a stepping stone to creating a memorable onboarding experience.
Great welcome emails do the following:
- address the customer personally, by their chosen name
- specify the goals or aims that the customer can achieve
- provide links to additional resources
- congratulate the customer on their decision to choose your business
- offer continued support and reassure the customer
- use embedded videos or pictures to add engagement
- thank the customer for signing up
- offer incentives
- provide customers with information about other products that might improve their experience
- provide information for where customers can go to get additional support
Of course, if your business has an app, you can apply these same principles to a greeting message. Again, you want the greeting message to be personalised and reassuring.
Read more: How To Craft The Perfect Nurture Sequence
Provide Detailed, Intuitive Instructions On How To Use The Product
Today’s businesses create great products. Even in the last ten years, things have moved on considerably. But companies need to be careful: more advanced products are often more complicated. A steep learning curve can put customers off and give them a reason to consider a competitor, even if your product is better.
An essential part of the onboarding process, therefore, is to offer tutorials: memorable, easy-to-follow instructions for getting the most out of your products.
There are all sorts of ways that you can use instructions to make the onboarding process more memorable.
The most obvious choice is to use video tutorials and post them on your website and social media platforms, providing links in your customer emails. But a better strategy is to provide in-person instruction or webinars where customers can follow what you’re doing.
You could also experiment with the concept of an “interactive walk-through.” This is where you hold your customer’s hand as they learn your product for themselves through actually using it.
Create A “Check-In” Schedule
Customers don’t immediately derive maximum value from your products. It takes time to work things out and incorporate your offering into their lives. You can, however, create a memorable onboarding experience by checking in with them to make sure that their experience of your product is as good as they expect.
Checking in is vital. Not only can you get a sense of how a customer is progressing, but you can also collect feedback that enables you to serve customers better in the future.
The more than customers see your investment in their success, the more likely they are to consider continuing to use your services.
Develop A Library Of Knowledge For Your Product/Service
Customers want to be able to do their own research sometimes. Successful onboarding, therefore, means directing customers to your support. For instance, the statistical software company STATA has a library of supporting documents teaching customers how to use every feature included in every update of its programme.
Creating a memorable onboarding experience is multi-faceted. But the crux of the process is to find ways that give customers a reason to stick with you and not go and find a competitor.
I’d love to hear about how you welcome clients into your business. Drop a comment below to share what is memorable about your onboarding experience.