The ultimate guide to perfect your customer onboarding process
After the long journey of attracting, engaging, and converting your prospects, your work isn’t done yet.
While those customers are already in your funnel, you’d need to attend to their needs, offer value, and convince them you’re the best option on the market.
And how do you do that?
Great service, you say?
You’re right. But to set the stage for great service, you need to start off building a strong customer relationship by getting to know your customers better.
That’s what customer onboarding is all about.
What is customer onboarding?
Customer onboarding, like the name sounds, is all about bringing your new customers aboard your product, making them comfortable, and building an experience that keeps them using your product for the foreseeable future.
It’s all about welcoming and retaining customers with a remarkable experience that solves their problems and convinces them that your product or service offering is exactly what they need.
Onboarding is simply teaching new customers how to get the most value out of your product so you can solve their pain points and get them to stick with you.
Great customer onboarding empowers you to:
- start off on the right foot with customers,
- build the foundation for future excellence, and eventually,
- retain them in the long run.
This article will serve as your guide to perfecting your customer onboarding experience so you can offer more value to your customer, stay competitive, and WIN!
Why is customer onboarding important?
Like we mentioned earlier, customer onboarding is all about helping users make a smooth transition to using your product and helping them get the most value out of what you have to offer.
It’s all about the customer. The aim is to give the customer the value they’re looking for, the very reason they signed up for your product, so they can keep using your product. Simple.
Here’s why you need to double down and perfect your customer onboarding process.
Retention beats acquisition. Acquiring new customers is a high-stakes game, exciting and all.
But it might not be the most efficient.
On average, it costs 5 – 25x more to acquire a new customer than it costs to retain an existing one.
What does that mean? That if you’re looking to increase your business’s revenue you should spend more time and resources onboarding new customers and delivering a better experience vs. chasing down new ones.
In every business, customer satisfaction is king, queen, and even the trusty, old kingmaker. At the end of the day, your aim is to deliver value to your end customers and get them to keep paying for what you’re selling to them. A great onboarding experience helps you:
- Understand what customers need upfront,
- Plan and execute to help them achieve it,
- Refocus if you realize you’re not a great fit for a customer
Put all that together and you get satisfied customers that are willing to keep supporting your business.
It doesn’t matter how much resources you direct into acquiring new customers, if you consistently fail to retain them, you’ll always be struggling with dropping revenues and a poor business image.
Customer onboarding helps you understand your customers and offers them the support they need to get the best out of your product and keep driving your revenue in the long term.
Grow revenue with social proof
No one trusts anyone selling anything to them.
But people trust family, friends, and anyone in their network they respect.
While it’ll always be that bit harder chasing down new clients, any existing customers you’ve managed to retain with great onboarding will most often than not tell their network about you, bringing in a steady stream of new business.
Offering your new customers a smooth transition to using your product or service guarantees that more of them will stay with you in the long run. Likewise, it creates an immense opportunity to grow your business by leveraging the trust and goodwill you’ve built with them.
How does the customer onboarding process work?
As much as we all love being creative, on-the-fly creativity is often not the answer to many questions—not least the question of customer onboarding. While you may be seeking to wow your new customers every single time, you won’t ever get that done by thinking in the now.
You need a process that you can repeat every single time and perfect as time progresses, to serve as your easy-to-follow guide for onboarding new customers.
Here’s a breakdown of how the customer onboarding process works and how you can adapt it for your needs.
Welcome your customers
In our formal, high-speed world, nothing beats a warm welcome aboard. No matter the channel you acquire customers through, don’t assume they already know all they need to about you.
Whether via email, social channels, etc., bring your new customers aboard with a warm welcome. Take the initiative to explain your company’s vision and how exactly your product will solve their pain points.
The banks do it and you can too.
Collect necessary basic information
This will form the basis of your relationship going forward. If necessary, create a case folder including your customer’s basic details, etc. This info you collect at the onboarding stage comes in handy whether you’re segmenting customers, deciding which of your offerings a customer needs most, or even offering special access to the files and tools you’ll be working with.
Understand your customer’s situation
You can only fix or improve what you understand. Some context-setting questions that’ll help you understand your customers’ situations include:
- What exactly is the problem this customer is looking to solve?
- Can we help?
- How can we help?
Questions like these (or slightly modified) help set the stage for presenting your solution to the customer. You might have a huge customer volume to deal with, so manually interviewing customers may not always be the key.
Quick fix = automate. A few lines of code can suggest what features in your product would be a better fit depending on what options and pain points your customers highlight.
In essence, you cannot offer value to your customers, no matter how much you want to, until you understand what they need. This requires that you engage them and understand their pain points, solutions they’ve used already, how they did or didn’t work, and what they expect from your product.
Introduce your product or service offering
With a better understanding of your customer’s situation, here’s where you introduce your product or service and help them understand how exactly you’re going to help.
Follow up continually and consistently
Weekly, monthly, or as often as possible, provide handholding and make sure your customers know you’re right there in case they need any help.
Mistakes to avoid during a customer onboarding
Customer onboarding is at the root of lasting customer relationships. In the quest to deliver a memorable experience to your customers, it’s easy to miss your steps and eventually get in the way of their learning experience.
Here are 4 mistakes you should watch out for when onboarding new customers.
In our modern age of Slack, Mailchimp, and Zapier, we’re always busy and multitasking is the new normal.
Understandably, it’s only appropriate that you automate a huge part of your customer onboarding process with automated emails, notifications, need-to-knows, etc.
But, a lot might end up being a lot.
No matter the number of customers you’re onboarding over time, it’s important to specify specific parts of your process where human input should come in. Maybe an email requesting a new customer to book a demo call, or a quick chat, the human touch creates an atmosphere your customers can relate with and makes it easier to convert them.
Have you ever met a parent that did everything for their perfectly healthy kids?
How did those kids turn out? Good, you get the point now, right?
Although it’s essential to hold your customers’ hands and show them how your product can solve their pain points, it can become disturbing if you continually babysit and insist on showing them everything there is to see.
Onboarding should give your customers an overview of your product—not babysit them and micromanage their learning experience. Give your new customers a crash course for getting started with your product and then let them reach should they need any help.
Not sticking to a process
No matter how much experience you have with onboarding new customers, never attempt to change your strategy on the fly.
Always stick to a proven, scalable process since it’ll help you engage more customers, deliver a cohesive experience, and get the same results every time.
Quoting management guru W. Edward Deming, “a goal without a process is nonsense”.
Not adjusting as the need calls for it—zero improvement
No matter how effective your current customer onboarding systems and processes are, give them enough time and you’ll see cases you haven’t tackled before. Customers come from different industries and have different challenges. As such, to stay relevant to their ever-changing needs, you’d need to periodically review your processes and adjust wherever there’s a need to.
Customer onboarding holds the key to the sustainable growth of your business and as such, it takes a determined, refined approach to keep it working.
Best practices for successful customer onboarding
With a little help from us, we can all agree that you should focus more on onboarding new customers. And there are endless reasons why you should. Revenue growth, customer retention, and a healthy brand image.
So, how do you get started onboarding customers better?
Here are five best practices to take your customer onboarding to the next level.
Leverage automation to simplify your process, free up hands, and save time
Previously, you’d have had to always engage customers manually, spending a lot of time on it. Now, thanks to a wide variety of tools you can run your customer onboarding more intelligently.
As a rule, automate as often as possible to save time for key places where the human touch comes in handy. Some great opportunities for automation include:
- Collecting customer data with forms,
- Looping in your customer data into your CRM,
- Automatically engaging different team members as customers flow through the onboarding workflow,
- Tracking customer behavior across your product —analytics, heat maps, etc.,
- Creating repeatable tasks for customers to complete on their learning journey using project management software.
As much as possible, use automated tools to simplify manual input in your onboarding and reserve human input for key parts of the workflow where it’ll make the most impact. This will help you move faster, deliver better results, and keep your customer success team from burning out.
Collect feedback as much as possible and build it into your systems and processes
Feedback is the breakfast of champions.
As much as possible, keep in touch with your customers to understand what needs to change to offer them a better experience. Polls, forms, tickets, etc., are helpful for collecting experience data and learning how to improve your product or service offerings.
Aim to learn more about your customers as a priority
You can only help customers if you understand their situation and how exactly your product and service. The first step of your onboarding efforts should be to engage customers and learn all they can tell you about their situation.
Set expectations clearly
One of the biggest reasons why customers churn is when they begin to feel they’ve been misled.
After 2 – 3 months of using your product or service and they still haven’t gotten anywhere near the outcomes they envisioned.
How do you solve this?
Start from the beginning. From the start of the sales funnel, encourage your sales team to give prospects an idea of what they can expect working with you.
At the onboarding stage, reinforce this with reviews and case studies that’ll show your customer a better picture of what you’ve achieved in the past and what they can expect. Fulfilling slightly lower expectations sure beats missing sky-high targets.
Stay in touch
Out of sight? Out of mind.
While onboarding customers, keep in touch as your customers navigate the process of getting settled into using your product or service.
For businesses that have a customer base bigger than can be managed 1:1, encourage customers to always reach out if they have any issue.
Likewise, you can send over performance polls to see how much value your customers reckon you’re adding to them. If you have a 1:1 relationship with your clients then it’s best to schedule periodic reviews where you review your strategy, execution, and outcomes.
Don’t leave anything to chance.
How to perfect your customer onboarding? Run it like a project
If you’re like us here at Kissflow Project, good is never enough. And, why good when you can have perfect?
Why offer a passable customer onboarding experience when you can get your customers to stick with amazing customer onboarding?
What’s the key?
The key to great customer onboarding is to run it like a project.
Plan. Execute. Track outcomes. Refine. Perfect.
Like we mentioned above, automation gives you all the tools you need to:
- Collect, segment, and classify customer data,
- Manage your customer’s data in your CRM,
- Assign team members to specific parts of the onboarding process,
- Track your performance across the entire process,
- Create a repeatable process with tasks, to-dos, and information that comes in handy every single time.
Kissflow Project empowers you to design and manage your customer onboarding like a continuous project. The result? You can simplify your workflow, track your results, and get better outcomes over time.
With Kissflow Project you can:
- Design and manage onboarding processes with flexible workflows,
- Create, assign, and manage customer success tasks with ease,
- Link up with other tools you already use so you can manage your business coherently,
- Track outcomes with reports and understand where to improve,
- Reduce costs with fewer hands working on projects
Take Kissflow Project for a spin here.
- The Ultimate Guide to Project Management Basics – 2021 Edition
- 10 Best Free Project Management Tools – Features Comparison
- How to Create a Killer Work Plan in 6 Steps
- How to Manage Product Feature Requests – 6 Best Practices