Onboarding is one of the most overlooked stages of the customer journey. Many businesses generally expect customers to be self-service post a sale. They are, in fact tossing away a golden opportunity.

Before we discuss what makes for a successful customer onboarding experience, let’s define what effective onboarding is. Effective onboarding is where a prospect becomes an engaged customer of your business as seamlessly as possible. 

Through a stellar onboarding program, a business can build trust, increase turnover, reduce customer churn potential, and turn a prospect into a strong brand advocate. All within the first few days of becoming a customer.

By tuning into their needs, you can offer them a tailored onboarding experience that will engage and excite them and help them move faster through the customer lifecycle.

Customer On boarding, where acquisition and retention meet.

This post will explore how customer onboarding helps you win at Acquisition and Retention at once. We will explore the importance of customer onboarding, consider the pitfalls of a poor onboarding experience, and focus on some key actions you can take to make the onboarding experience incredible for your customers.

In our recent post onThe three best approaches to tackling customer churn.’We expressed the importance of an incredible customer onboarding experience in reducing churn.

It would be difficult to question the value of a good onboarding experience. Customer satisfaction is highly correlated with churn rate: the less satisfied customers are, the more likely they will consider a competitor offer and leave.

Loyal customers are five times more likely to purchase again from the same company and four times more likely to refer a friend to the company (Forbes).

You would see that onboarding is a strategic opportunity and a component of your company’s culture. Onboarding practices can play a vital role in connecting your people to your customer-centricity objectives.

But let’s consider onboarding from another angle.

What if your current processes are suboptimal?

The long-term impact of a poor onboarding experience would be a loss of customers very early in the relationship, high customer complaints, high churn or attrition rates, and a reactive rush to focus on acquisition activity. You would be filling the top of a broken sales funnel.

So we know it’s crucial, now what can we do about it?

Here are some simple approaches to ensuring customer onboarding is of a high standard:

For the Customer

  • Value their time: They have a learning curve to follow in understanding your business, brand, product, and communication channels. Not including the financial price they paid. Value the investment they are making and give them a reason for engaging your product.

  • Give them access to a user interface that gives them all the options they need right away and makes it easy for agents to help customers with problems or concerns via phone or email. Show them the value of using your product or service by allowing them to do something they could not do before. Link benefits to their needs, not the product features.

  • Remove Friction Points: Identify the complex parts, the time and resource-consuming steps, the stages where they may stop and go dormant or cancel early. Either help them across this stage or make process or technology changes to remove this friction point entirely.

    According to Gartner, only 9% of customers report resolving their issues completely via self-service.

  • Reward their success: Provide some unexpected benefit to completing the onboarding stage and becoming a quality customer. This can have the additional benefits of making this new customer an advocate of your business from the onset.
  • Give the customer additional guidance: Each of your onboarding steps should fulfill their needs and teach them something about the value of what you do.

For your business (the team)

  • Create a Customer Culture: Empower your employees to be customer-centric and motivated to deliver customer value immediately. Empowered employees become advocates of what your company stands for; this will translate into more loyal customer advocacy.

  • Measure onboarding success: Take time to review how many people achieved their goals and define the performance metrics your team needs to succeed in each level. Measure these throughout the engagement period and beyond.

    Make this funnel visible to motivate your teams and customers. Celebrate those who make the difference and give them additional visibility in marketing materials, newsletters, refer-a-friend programs, social media, etc.

Onboarding must be designed to maximise the potential customers experience from a relationship with your company. During the sale process, promises were made; they will either be validated or disproved during onboarding, setting the customer up to feel they have made the right decision or subjecting them to buyer’s remorse.

SO, you now have an incredible onboarding experience. 

The customer passed through the early stages of building a positive relationship with your business and become a strong advocate. Now what?

Our next piece, ‘Customer engagement starts with a strong data culture,’ will demonstrate how customer data is critical to building an onboarding strategy and maintaining long-term customer engagement.

By taking these approaches you can build a very strong loyal customer base that sings your praises and compliments your team’s service. Creating a strong operating culture.