You only get one chance to make a first impression. Your new client onboarding process could be that chance. When you deliver an exceptional experience during the onboarding process, you build trust that will last far beyond the initial project or implementation.
Your new clients will be clients for life. But a bad onboarding and/or implementation experience will leave customers looking for a way out, even if they are happy with your product or service.
If that initial onboarding experience isn’t good, it leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Even if the client signed a year contract, that bad taste is likely to be there a year later, and the renewal is much less likely. Whereas if you can really nail that experience—if you can get customers up and running and know what success is for them—then your customers get everything they need and they are more likely to stay.
Are you ready to make clients for life? (Of course you are!) Here are five ways to improve your client onboarding process.
1. Lay Out the Entire Client Onboarding Process Clearly from Beginning to End
Before you send the first welcome email or check off the first task, make sure everyone has a clear picture of what the next few days, weeks, and months will look like. Create a roadmap for what you’re going to be doing from start to finish.
- What milestones will you track?
- What do you need from your customer’s team?
- What is your team going to do for them?
- When will you complete the project?
You can organize this information in whatever format makes the most sense for you and your customer—an email, a slide deck, a Gantt chart, or a spreadsheet. The key is to make sure everyone knows what to expect before you get started.
Pro tip: Make sure what you outline in this step is realistic and achievable. Don’t set deadlines you can’t meet or make promises you can’t keep.
2. Find Out What Product Features Your Customers Are Most Excited About
Was there something in the sales call or demo that really stuck out to them and got them pumped to work with you? Or are there specific features or capabilities they want to know more about? This is a good time to share what features you really like and talk about the capabilities that will help your customer meet their goals and objectives.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to check in with your onboarded customer post-implementation. Ask what they like most about your product and what additional features they’d like to see.
3. Define What Successful Onboarding Looks Like
One of the most important things you can do as a project or customer success lead is to understand what success looks like for your customer. Don’t assume that you know what it is. Success will look different to each customer.
Take the time to define what success means to your customer and will keep them motivated and excited throughout the customer onboarding process.
How do you do that? Ask targeted questions about what customers want to accomplish, why they bought your product or service, and what they are hoping to get out of it.
Pro tip: Customers might not articulate their idea of success right away, so keep coming back to these questions until you have a straightforward answer.
4. Identify Stakeholders and Their Role in the Client Onboarding Process
A good implementation process needs to include everyone who has a stake in the project. This includes your internal onboarding or implementation teams, your customer’s teams, and any third-party vendors/contractors who may be contributing.
Close coordination with your sales team can help identify who should take part—whether their role is to complete tasks or to receive status updates. GuideCX research found that 61% of projects with one person involved complete on time. This jumps to 91% when you involve five or more people from your organization or your customer’s.
Pro tip: The customer contacts that your sales team works with to create the deal are not always the contacts you’ll work with to onboard your solution.
5. Reduce Anxiety with Transparency
Transparency, visibility, and predictability go a long way in reducing the anxiety customers feel when they are in the dark about what’s happening with their implementation. They should always know the project status and who is responsible for the next step. Which means you get to avoid those awkward calls and meetings that feel like you’re throwing your customer under the bus when their incomplete tasks delay the project.
Find a way to automate repetitive tasks. The time you save with automation—and not having to constantly talk your clients off the ledge—can now be put towards building long-term relationships with your clients that will keep them happy for life.
Pro tip: Ditch manual processes and spreadsheets. Give your clients a better experience with purpose-built client onboarding and implementation software.
Put Yourself in Your Customer’s Shoes
As you work your way through these steps, you must ask yourself, how would you want to be treated if you were your own customer? What would you expect from your company? What would you expect the timeline to be? These questions are a good place to start, but also think of the little ones that make or break that relationship. Those ones are vital in keeping that trust and transparency between you and your customer.
This blog post is brought to you by GuideCX.