A good first impression can work wonders.
J.K. Rowling did just that with her first book. It hit the shelves and it exploded. For every book that she’s written since, upon its release, there are lines out the door and around the corner. This is the type of impression that every business should aim to make with its customers–one that explodes and creates a long line to purchase the organization’s products or services. The way to do this is by developing an excellent customer onboarding process, and then continuously improving that process.
The first step in developing an outstanding process is understanding the benefits that your business can reap. The second is acknowledging that maintaining an excellent onboarding process means always striving for continuous improvement.
The Benefits of Customer Onboarding
Customer onboarding should never be seen as a burden or an annoying process that doesn’t really have a point. It has a big point and it has the potential to provide you with advantages over your competitors–if done correctly.
The first benefit is the referrals that you will get. Consumers are used to buying a product from a vendor and never hearing from them again unless they request help or the organization is trying to sell them something else. When you go above and beyond by welcoming the new customer in, getting them set up with your product, helping them get to know you and your company better, and ensuring their happiness, they will be both surprised and delighted. They’ll tell everyone they know about you and strongly encourage others to work with you. And just in case you don’t realize the value of referrals, up to half of all purchases are influenced by recommendations.
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The second advantage that can be seen in improving customer onboarding is customer loyalty. It’s important to keep in mind that just 20% of existing customers can create 80% of a company’s future revenue. If you want to ensure that this happens, welcoming a customer to your brand is essential. Consumers, now more than ever, want to have relationships with the companies they buy from. They want to know that they are valued. The only way to grow this relationship and illustrate value is to take them by the hand, show them your company culture and engage with them. When you do this, they’ll stay with you, regardless of whether your competition has better prices.
The third benefit gained through getting onboarding right is increasing your revenue. Bringing consumers through the sales pipeline is time and money intensive. You had to market your company, identify the lead, pursue them, nurture the prospect, draft a proposal, possibly meet or speak over the phone, and then convert them into a buyer. All of this will have been a waste if they return the product or decide to discontinue your service. Companies need to understand that converting a lead into a customer is not the end of the journey. It is only the beginning. When onboarding happens is really when your time to shine begins. This is where you help the customer understand and love the product or service. This is where true revenue is maintained.
Steps Towards Continuous Improvement in Your Customer Onboarding
The benefits of a customer onboarding process are inevitable–if it is created thoughtfully and continuously improved upon. The market changes and so do consumers’ desires. Organizations need to be able to adjust. This means shaping a process that encourages change and asking the right questions, internally, at regular intervals.
The first key ingredient to getting onboarding right and finding ways to improve it is by following up–quickly and often. This is especially important with brand new customers. Some businesses are hesitant to follow-up too often because they don’t want to annoy customers. This is a misconception. The success of both cross-selling and customer satisfaction increase the more communication there is–just make sure it’s valuable communication that benefits the customer. And you need to do this quickly to ensure that customers understand how much you appreciate their business. Extra tip: The same representative who brought them through the sales funnel should be the one to follow-up with them–it feels much more personal.
The second way to improve the onboarding process is through conducting a needs assessment with each and every new customer. When you ask customers questions you benefit in three ways. The first is that the customer feels valued. They see that you have a desire to understand them and to better serve them. The second benefit is that you can use this information to identify other products or services that might fit the customer’s needs. The third is that you can gain insight into what they thought of the sales funnel, how you can serve them during the onboarding process and ways you can improve both the sales funnel and the onboarding.
A third way to make sure that your customer onboarding process is always up to par is through encouraging customer feedback. When your customers are happy you want to know and when they are unhappy you want to know. This is the only way you can figure out what works, and stick with it, as well as what doesn’t work, so you can change it. And this isn’t just feedback in regards to your service. It is feedback about the product or service. They are the ones who use it every day. They likely have ideas to make it better. Even if those ideas aren’t possible to implement, explain why that’s the case to them. There are just two important aspects of making customer feedback work. First, make it easy to give feedback. Send out emails requesting it. Give them a call. Leave options on your website and social media platforms. Second, respond to the feedback. This will encourage them to give you more and it will make them feel like you care.
A fourth method of improving the onboarding system in your organization is talking to the customers who left. This is rarely comfortable, but it is always necessary. You need to know why individuals decide not to stick with you. Ask earnestly and kindly–not in a way that signifies you are asking for them to come back, but rather that you are trying to improve. A lot of the time, the reason will be one you would never have thought of. It will be an undercover issue that has been eating away at customers. In addition, find out why they didn’t come to you before. Maybe you aren’t responsive enough. Maybe the feedback options are too hidden. This information is invaluable.
To solidify the continual growth with the help of customer onboarding, there are a few questions you need to ask internally:
- Identify the methods you’re using to build user relationships.
- Figure out how you are helping customers to see success with the product or service.
- Find the main causes of churn.
- Determine how you communicate value to customers.
- Pinpoint how you can better explain the product and how to use it.
- Know what worries customers.
- Ask for the metrics for success that your consumers are using.
- Verify customer’s objectives and desired outcomes.
The point of customer onboarding is to solve your customer’s problems and help them reach success quickly. If you understand their needs and worries, it’s not difficult to do this. It simply takes time and continually finding new and interesting ways of getting the information you need. When you do this, you’ll see customer retention rise and churn fall.