Onboarding process is the first stage when you actively start building your relationship with customers. This is the point when all the customer’s apprehensions about their choice of buying the product are put to test. Hence, right from the beginning they are super sensitive about anything they experience during onboarding. They seem to exaggerate an experience they go through during this phase – be it good or bad, because it is only during this phase their entire perception towards your brand is being developed.
Hence, to win your customers and retain them for lifetime, you have to put in efforts right from the beginning. The marketing and sales team may have made various promises, either directly or perceptively, in the initial stages of attracting customers but if your onboarding process is not in place, it will have a disastrous impact on them.
Having said that, let us now look at five steps you can implement for an effective customer onboarding process.
#1 Know your customer
Companies need to come out of the traditional model of growth where acquiring new customers was the only solution. Now, with the subscription based business model, you have to build long term relationships with your customers. You have to allot time in getting yourself acquainted with their profile.
Evaluate their business and understand their context. Identify their various challenges, pain points, vision and aspirations to get a deeper understanding of where they come from. Then based on their challenges, design the solution which your product can provide to them. This solution can be presented to them during the onboarding meetings.
#2 Agree on common terms
As I said earlier, the marketing and sales team would have played their part in the beginning of the customer journey based on which a customer might have made few assumptions and expectations from your product. This is the time when you bring out all of those thoughts from your customer to the table. Know clearly what they are expecting and what underlying assumptions they have made about your product.
Once you know that, you need to clarify them about what is achievable and what is not through your product. Correct them of any wrong assumptions they have made right in the beginning itself. This way any setback will not come to them as a surprise at a later point of time. This ensures that they decide to continue their relationship with you even after knowing what they can’t expect from your product.
#3 Demonstrate value proposition
Having known your customer profile and understanding their challenges, you need to place your product strategically to demonstrate what value it is adding to their business. So, far they have understood your product in only a generic sense. During onboarding, they need to understand your product in a more specific way and need to see how well it fits in their business context.
If possible, create business use cases to identify all the possible scenarios where your product can add value to their business. It needs to highlight all the challenges they are currently facing and the specific solutions your product will provide. Different stakeholders from the customer side should be shown different benefits of your product. For example, the higher level managers need to see how your product is adding value in the overall business of their company. Whereas the end users need to realize how by using your product they are able to save time. efforts and enhance their workflow
#4 Product configuration
This is the most important step in the onboarding process. This is where you are actually going to install your product to your customer’s technical environment. Different products have different complexities. Some can be installed automatically just through login details. While other highly complicated products need system configurations to get installed.
Based on the complexity of your product you can pull in a few resources from your technical staff if manual configuration is needed at the client’s side. Make sure that you have made thorough testing of your product after the installation is finished so that the customer doesn’t face any issue in the initial period.
#5 Give proper training
For your customers to start using the product, you need to provide them with proper training. You can use either high-touch engagement model to give them personalized training through sessions and meetings. Or, you can use tech touch engagement to give them orientation through online content you have already made for your company. These content can include help articles, video tutorials, knowledge-base, etc.
Prepare your training material in well planned structures of different modules. It is always best that after you cover a certain topic you give them some time to try their hands on your product so that they keep getting practical experience alongside. The whole training material should aim towards preparing the customer to use your product independently.
During onboarding you need to win your customer’s confidence by demonstrating that your product will add immense value to their business. Breaking down the whole onboarding process into smaller segments and fine tuning each of them will ensure that you have a flawless onboarding process to execute.
Remember, the customer is clueless about what is going to be the steps after they have purchased your product. Hence, plan your onboarding process in such a way that it gives them a great customer experience and they feel comfortable at every stage of getting familiar with your product.