The onboarding process is one of the most important stages in the customer lifecycle. It comes at the beginning of their journey, and sets the tone for their whole relationship with your product and company.
Whether a customer continues to use your product or not is heavily influenced by how well you onboard them. A good onboarding process will ensure customers are set up for success and understand the value of your product. If done poorly, customers will wonder why they signed up in the first place and will stop using your product.
We’re going to be discussing six crucial steps in your customer onboarding process. You’ll find tips on how to set your customers up for success, as well as examples from companies who have successfully implemented these steps.
The customer onboarding process is designed to help new users get set up and start using your product as quickly and easily as possible. It covers everything from initial sign-up to product activation and first use, with the aim of delivering value to the customer as early as possible.
Why Is Customer Onboarding Important?
It’s important to have a good customer onboarding process because it sets the tone for the rest of the customer’s relationship with your product.
A good onboarding process will:
- Keep your customers engaged. Helping them clearly understand and experience the value they’ll get from your product will mean they start using it successfully, but more importantly, it’ll give them a reason to log back in and use your product again and again.
- Improve trial conversions. If you offer a free or discounted product trial, customer onboarding is where your trial users get to experience the value of your product. If you can demonstrate real value in the onboarding process — right at the start of their trial — you’ll make it more likely they’ll convert into paid customers.
This means that good customer onboarding should: -Get customers using your product immediately -Help them keep using it repeatedly -Make sure they continue to get value from it over time
How to Onboard New Clients
The following are important steps to take in order to ensure your customers have a successful experience with your product: 1. Define what success looks like for your customer. 2. Simplify the onboarding process as much as possible. 3. Make sure your customer has a dedicated point of contact. 4. Pay close attention to feedback and address any concerns promptly.
Your sales reps should be setting expectations and performing tasks with onboarding in mind. Here are a few steps to ensure success with the post-sale hand-off:
Identify Customer Pains and Solutions
Your sales representative is trying to determine whether the potential customer is a good match for your company and if they need your services. They should also be getting a clear understanding of the customer’s pain points and how your product or service can solve them. The last thing you want is for there to be miscommunication or a lack of transparency once work has begun.
Define Big-Picture Campaign Goals
They should also ask about the client’s goals for the first campaign or project. What does the client want to achieve? What numbers do the client want to improve?
Gauging goals, expectations, and ideal outcomes for a project is important in order to ensure that everyone is on the same page from the beginning. This will make it easier to make the project actionable and achievable. In many cases, you will have to compromise between what the client wants, what resources are available, and what your team is able to do.
Agree on Mutual Deliverables
When creating a proposal or service contract, it is important to be clear about what is included in the agreement. The scope and deliverables should be based on the client’s goals and what your company is able to realistically achieve. It is helpful to spell this out for the client before work begins.
When collaborating with others, it is important to discuss and agree upon key details such as point of contact, budget, and timelines.
After a proposal is accepted and a contract is signed, it’s important to maintain the momentum built during the sales process and eliminate any uncertainty to prevent the buyer from regretting their purchase.
Send a Welcome Packet
One thing you can do is immediately send a welcome packet or email after the proposal is submitted. The point of this is two-fold:
- Reinforce that they did the right thing by making them feel like part of the family
- Set expectations for onboarding
It would be a good idea to include a timeline of the next steps in the onboarding process, and letting the new employee know that your team is excited to have them on board.
Schedule a Discovery Call
Even if a potential customer initiates contact with your company, they will still need a personal touch. During the discovery call, a member of your team should welcome the client and ask if they have any questions or concerns. This is also a good time to set up the kick-off call and manage expectations for it.
The kick-off call is the formal introduction between the client and your team members who will be handling/working the account. It sets the tone for the rest of the engagement, so here’s what you’ll want to accomplish:
Collect Information About Their Internal Process
If you are taking over a project from another team, ask about the existing process and what the client’s preferences are. Otherwise, ask the client about their expectations for the project and how they want to manage the relationship.
Ask for the Client’s Definition of Success
Did your sales representative tell your team what the client’s goals are? If not, they will want to hear it directly from the client. This will help make sure that the team and the customer are on the same page about what the outcomes should be.
Revisit the Deliverables
The team probably has a better understanding of the work that needs to be done, so once they understand the client’s expectations, they can confirm that the agreed-upon deliverables are appropriate and achievable.
Reinforce the Value You’re Providing
When you are about to close the sale, make sure you have handled any objections the buyer may have. You can do this by sharing information that will make them feel good about their purchase (such as introducing your team’s specialties or any strategies you have for their success).
Set the Cadence for Communication
You should set expectations for the rest of the engagement during the kick-off call, including how often the customer should expect updates, meetings, and other communication. If you don’t do this, your team may feel overwhelmed if the client expects more communication, or the client may feel ignored if they expect less communication.
Outline action items for both parties.
Both you and the client need to provide content and additional materials to make the campaign successful. Make sure you have everything you need for the project, who will be responsible for what, and set firm deadlines for submitting the additional materials.
Once the kick-off call is complete, set your first regular check-in to evaluate progress made and for both parties to offer feedback. Here are some best practices for the call:
Revisit Your Client’s Definition of Success
Your account manager cannot ensure customer satisfaction when they are not aware of all the work being done. This meeting is an opportunity to improve the situation. At the beginning of an engagement, when results may not be immediately apparent, it is important to remind the client of the benefits they hoped to gain from the engagement, and why they decided to work with you in the first place.
Create an SLA
A service-level agreement (SLA) is a contract that establishes a set of deliverables between one party and another. This is more specific than the proposal and may be adjusted as goals or needs change. It is important to establish what they need from you, and what you need from them to accomplish it.
Agree on Smaller Milestones
Since it took Rome quite a while to be built, your customer may start to get impatient if they keep writing checks. Setting smaller goals along the way to a large goal can demonstrate progress and garner support. If you miss a milestone, it provides an opportunity to manage expectations and readjust the plan.
First 60-90 Days
After the honeymoon period is over and your client is used to your systems, they will start to expect results. Your account manager should stick to the communication cadence and perform these tasks for each meeting:
- Find ways to continue establishing trust.
- Notify the client of milestones achieved and tasks completed.
- Ask for feedback to identify small issues before they become engagement-ending problems.
- Complete a health check report post-call to notify the rep and team of customer sentiment.
The Sign-up Process
It may be tempting to think that customer onboarding only begins once a customer has signed up for your product. But we believe that the sign-up process is the first step of that journey.
According to Heap’s survey of 79 SaaS companies, the average conversion rate for their sign-up process was 36.2%.
If you see that a lot of people are starting the sign-up process but not finishing it, it might mean that you’re asking for too much information right away.
Sign-up Process Best Practices
- Keep your sign-up process as short as possible. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to sign up for your product. How much of the information you ask for is nice-to-have rather than essential? Ask for the information that you need to get the customer set up and using your product, then ask for more information later when it’s needed.
- Need a lot of information to sign up? Split it over multiple pages rather than asking for everything on one. Heap found that asking for sign-up information across multiple pages correlated with a modest increase in conversion rates. So if you need a lot of information from your customers when they sign up, make it feel like less by splitting it across multiple pages.
- Make it easy to sign up with a service they already use, like Google, Slack or social media. This removes almost all the friction from the sign-up process and means new customers can sign up in a single click, which is a huge benefit, according to Heap: “When people can sign up with one click using a service they already use like Google or Slack, the signup rates improved by 8.2 percentage points.”
The goal of your onboarding process is to keep your customers engaged after they login for the first time.
After you welcome your customer with an email, you may want to send additional follow-up emails with tips and pointers on how to use your product. You can also prompt them to log back in to their account.
Follow-up Email Best Practices
Make sure each email you send to your customers contains information that is helpful to them. This could be in the form of links to your help center, tips on using particular features, or product updates. You want your emails to add value to your customers, help them achieve their goals with your product, and make them want to use it again in the future.
It is more effective to send follow-up emails more often instead of packing a lot of information into one email. This allows customers to engage more with your product or content. You can focus on one feature or use case per email instead of trying to cover everything at once.
It may be beneficial to include customer quotes or links to case studies in follow-up emails. This could remind the customer of the value of the product and why they decided to sign up for it.
The Goal of Customer Onboarding Process
Your customer onboarding process is the beginning of your customer journey and sets the foundation for your whole relationship. A good customer onboarding process helps with customer activation (getting them using your product) and customer retention.
The main goal of your customer onboarding process is not only to help your customers start using your product, but to set them up for long-term success.
The most accurate way to gauge whether your customer onboarding process is successful is to see if your customers keep using your product over time.
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