For high-touch sales, customer onboarding can be a complex process. Simply getting a sale is far from enough for lasting success; instead, you need to make sure that you set your new customers up for a successful, long-term relationship with your company with a customer onboarding process.
If there’s one reason we have done better than of our peers in the Internet space over the last six years, it is because we have focused like a laser on customer experience, and that really does matter, I think, in any business. It certainly matters online, where word of mouth is so very, very powerful.Jeff Bezos
Fail the process, and your customer retention rates drop dramatically. The seeds of churn are planted early, as even your best-fit new customers will not stay for long if they are left alone in the process of coming on board. That’s what makes a formal process so crucial. Fortunately, you can optimize it using the below 5 steps.
Too often, customer onboarding is defined by process metrics. If you can move through a checklist of sending everything your audience should need, you have successfully completed the process. But in reality, that process is far more in-depth.
As KissMetrics points out, successful customer onboarding ultimately depends on whether you can guide your audience to the point where they feel validated in their purchase – their desired outcome:
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Successful onboarding doesn’t revolve around your company’s goals, instead it focuses on meeting (or exceeding) the user’s expectations…. There are two major milestones in the life of a customer: When they sign up for your product, and when they achieve their first “success” with your product.
In other words, the goal of your process should not be internal or process-driven but focused entirely on your new customers. What would they consider a success? If you can answer that question, you can move forward in planning your customer onboarding process by centering your steps around the answer.
Gather Internal Support
A successful onboarding process depends on more than just automated messages sent directly to new customers. Especially if you offer a complex product or service, you need to make absolutely sure that everyone who should touch the audience is completely on board with the process
This step, in other words, consists of your efforts to get internal buy-in. If customer service is scheduled to provide a call a week after the purchase to make sure everything is on track and to answer any potential questions, they need to know about it and embrace this proactive outreach. Similarly, if you plan on offering advanced tutorials of your software to new customers, make sure that you both know who will hold it and when it makes the most sense.
In effect, gathering internal support comes down to a simple case of stakeholder management. The British Association of Project Management has developed a 10-step stakeholder management process, and many of the same steps apply in this case. Communicate early, keep your internal stakeholders in the feedback loop, and be honest in communicating risk. The result will be a stronger onboarding process that is backed by everyone who might touch new customers.
Build Your Customer Onboarding Process
By establishing your core goal and gathering internal support, you have completed the preliminary work necessary for a successful process. Now, it’s time to build the framework.
The exact nature of your customer onboarding process, of course, depends in large part on the exact product or service you offer. A banking solution, for example, may offer a very different onboarding process than a law firm might.
Three variables, though, remain crucial to the workflow regardless of industry – highlighted below.
Understand and Adjust to Customer Needs
Remember that the entirety of your onboarding efforts should be geared toward helping your customers successfully use your product or service, hopefully for a long time to come. That, in turn, means every step in the workflow needs to be optimized not just for the overarching goal of the process, but the underlying needs as well.
These needs can be both aspirational and technical in nature. An understanding of how to best use your product or service is crucial, but it can only be possible if your audience understands just how they can get there. Your customer onboarding process should be geared toward helping them take that step.
Collect Insights Throughout the Customer Onboarding Process
Ideally, you should build your workflow with feedback in mind. Especially if you are building an onboarding process for the first time, you will find natural sticking points at which the process doesn’t flow as naturally as designed. Finding these sticking points, and adjusting your workflow accordingly, helps you improve your efforts over time and maximize your customer success.
Don’t Forget About Deadlines
Automated steps in your process can be easily set up to make their way to your audience at pre-scheduled times. But what about some of the manual outreach that high-touch products and services require?
Even if your internal stakeholders in the process are on board, meeting the desired times amidst other responsibility can be difficult. To avoid problems, you need a workflow that can remind your team of deadlines coming up and makes it easy for them to follow up without the major time commitment.
Adjust Each Step Manually
Not all customer onboarding process experiences are created equal. In fact, various customer groups may require very different processes to get them to the same goal of the desired outcome. Can your workflow account for these nuances?
To reliably achieve success, it should. Especially for companies embracing account-based marketing and sales structures, in which your audience expects a personalized approach, carrying that same approach through to the onboarding process is absolutely crucial.
In extreme cases, that means a completely customized approach in which each new customer goes through a slightly different onboarding experience. But even a number of adjusted workflows that appeal specifically to individual customer groups can approximate the same, positive results.
Gather Feedback and Adjust
Finally, you should never consider your customer onboarding process optimized. Chances are you can always improve, and gathering feedback is crucial to making the necessary adjustments.
We already covered building feedback into your customer onboarding process above. But you will also need to get information from your internal stakeholders on the process, along with their suggestions for improvements.
Customer service, for example, may find that in their initial call, they receive the same type of question multiple times. Now, you can build a more automated piece of content in your process that addresses it proactively. The more feedback you collect and analyze, the better your chances of a successful onboarding experiences.
Finding Software to Build Your Customer Onboarding Process
Helping your customers successfully use your product or service is a crucial part of helping your sales and marketing efforts succeed, and your business grow. Customer onboarding requires an effective workflow, which in turn can only be possible with software that can be optimized for each of the above steps. That’s where Tallyfy enters the equation.
Through our solution, you can build workflows designed to accommodate even the most complex onboarding needs. Multiple users can own individual steps, allowing you to set up anything from automated content to manual reminders. You can even attach workflows, as well as adjust and customize workflows and their individual steps dynamically as needed based on customer feedback.
Of course, you can also track metrics that allow you to find and improve weak spots in each step. In short, it’s an ideal way to improve and optimize your customer onboarding process. Learn why businesses across industries have begun to use the software to optimize their workflow needs on our customer stories page.
Photo by Jane Quigley (jquig99)