When the customer is in the middle of the buying cycle, your primary focus is on nurturing leads using direct engagement and content marketing.
However, once they convert into a paying customer, the engagement takes the form of the customer onboarding process.
The customer onboarding process is particularly important as it helps you earn your customers’ loyalty. Simply put, a positive customer onboarding experience validates their decision to purchase from your business.
It is rightfully said that selling your product or service is only half of the job. If you fail to provide value to each of your customers, the entire sales process would be meaningless.
The trick here is to ensure that you offer them a seamless customer experience. You should aim at removing all friction from the initial touchpoints of the customer journey through the post-purchase experience.
Of course, the whole customer onboarding process sounds challenging. This guide will teach you everything about customer onboarding and show how you can incorporate it into your customer service.
What Is Customer Onboarding Definition?
Customer onboarding is the process of proactively guiding new customers through your product to get them started and stay engaged.
It is a series of steps and resources that make it easy for customers to incorporate a new product into their routine.
Since customer onboarding focuses on enhancing the customer experience and fostering relationships, it can be applied to any business model, including Saas-based businesses.
The primary goal is to improve the lifetime value of your customer. Your main focus should be achieving customer goals. Provide them with information and engagement that will help them derive success from their purchases.
Why Is Customer Onboarding so Important?
For any business, customer onboarding warms the customer with your brand. It sets expectations for your ongoing relationship with your clients.
The customer onboard experience has a direct impact on your churn rate. If done well, you can increase your retention rate and the overall customer lifetime value (CLV).
If you want to increase your revenue, the most profitable route is to retain your existing customers.
Here are a few of the key benefits of maintaining a strategic customer onboarding process flow.
Increase in Revenue
Most revenues come from existing customers.
Acquiring a new customer can cost 5x times more than retaining the existing ones. Besides, it takes double the effort to attract a new user than maintaining an old one.
You would be surprised to know that more than two-thirds of SaaS companies experience churn rates greater than 5%.
Properly onboarded customers are more likely to stay and continue doing business with you. It is imperative to your business growth.
Reduction in Customer Service Load
Although the heart of customer onboarding is customer service, it goes beyond delighting your customers.
A successful onboarding process will ensure that your customers have a seamless experience with your product or service. They are less likely to encounter issues in the early stage of adoption.
It drastically reduces the overhead costs of the customer support department while improving the overall efficiency.
Reduce in Churn Rate
Do you know much it costs to lose a customer?
Let’s say your business’s average cost of contract sign is $5000. If just one customer leaves, you lose that much in annual recurring revenue.
The Gartner Group studied that 80% of the company’s future income can come from 20% of the existing customers. But it’s sad to see that B2B companies put only 20% of their marketing efforts towards customer retention.
Customers who go through a positive onboarding experience are more likely to stick around, becoming a valuable asset for your company.
So, make sure to focus on improving the customer onboarding journey to boost recurring business.
Word of Mouth
Word-of-mouth marketing can either make or break your business. It is about using happy customers to promote your business.
When your customers are happy with your product or service and satisfied with your after-sales service, they are more likely to go and talk to their contacts about your company.
In fact, 67% of consumers buying decisions are influenced by reading reviews online.
According to McKinsey & Company, 20% to 50% of purchases are a result of the word-of-mouth recommendation.
How Do You Onboard a New Customer?
To ensure smooth functioning, here is a checklist of seven customer onboarding best practices to consider.
i. Know Your Customers
You now know your buyer persona in-and-out. This will give you a good understanding of your customer. Begin by collecting the necessary information from your client.
This may sound obvious, but you can’t possibly do your job without these details.
Find out all about their pain points, unique struggles, and the challenges they are facing. An ideal way to obtain this data is with a questionnaire or briefing document.
And not just problems, try to find out ideal solutions and outcomes for all their needs.
This information will help you provide a seamless onboarding experience.
ii. Clarify Expectations
Your customer should know what to expect before they purchase your product.
While trying to sell them, lay out the qualifying factors for using the products. Having higher expectations than what you can offer will only leave them in disappointment.
Customers must be aware of things like how long tasks can take. Make sure that you are specific about the level of support you can provide.
iii. Show Them Value
While giving them a product demo, you must have already shared the value your product can offer. However, you need to again emphasize the value it will provide for their unique cases.
Show them how your product or service will address their pain points and how they will get benefited.
It’s always nice to have a personalized touch — include specialized training or offer documentation that will be valuable.
iv. Keep Communication Flowing
After you have familiarized them with your product, make sure you still remain in touch with them.
You can use email to send them guides and tutorials. Or, you can even notify them about software upgrades and other relevant information via email.
v. Create Customer-Centric Goals
Every customer’s needs are unique. Allow them to define their success or goals, and help them create measurable milestones.
Your only focus should be on creating a positive experience for your customers.
vi. Measure Your Success
Ultimately, the customer onboarding best practices end at measuring your own success.
Identify friction points, track key metrics, and gather customer feedback to get insights into what’s working for your business and where to improvise.
Who Should Be Involved in the Onboarding Process?
The customer onboarding process for SaaS-based businesses should be an organization-wide effort. It isn’t the responsibility of just one department or team.
Let’s look at some of the stakeholders that can participate in the process of customer onboarding.
Product Management and Development
No one understands the complexity of your product better than your developer and product management team. They know every ins and outs of your platform and how they can be applied for specific use cases.
It would be a smart move to include them in the onboarding process to gather feedback and make the product even more intuitive and user-friendly.
When the onboarding process is quite elaborate, the initial onboarding process can be handled by the sales team. However, it is then transferred to the customer success team.
The responsibilities of a customer onboarding specialist include helping customers with installation and configuration of the product, minimizing time-to-value for users, and addressing the customer’s tech concerns.
Customer support basically supervises the product management and customer success team. They are there to help find any weak link in the onboarding process and help resolve issues at the earliest.
In fact, they are also responsible for providing feedback to the product and customer success team to help them further enhance their performance.
Components of Customer Onboarding
The purpose of custom onboarding is to help customers feel acquainted with your product or service. However, there is no single way of doing it.
It varies from the specific need case of each user. Here are some key components of new customer onboarding for SaaS as well as other business models.
1. Welcome Email
Your welcome email is the first contact with the customer after they have signed up for your product or service.
Again, this is also the first email that you are sending them, and thus you need to use this opportunity to set communication expectations.
A few elements to include in your welcome emails:
- Don’t forget to thank them
- Don’t overload them with information — keep it simple
- Offer resource materials such as blog content or video tutorials for them to access
Here’s an example of a welcome email from Zoom —
EngageBay’s customizable email templates allow your team to stop drafting individual marketing or sales emails and focus their time on other core areas.
2. Product Tutorial
Once they have signed up, you need to create a guided tutorial to take them through the setup process, step by step.
Product tours and guides are there to support your users in the long run. There are different ways to offer your product tutorials.
- An in-app product tour
- Tutorial options alongside different features
- Sharing ‘getting started’ checklist to keep the user on track
EngageBay has created a Youtube video explaining each feature or capabilities of its various marketing tools.
Tutorials are a crucial component of an onboarding process, especially if you have a feature-rich product.
Documentation is basically the resource section where customers can try to self-educate themselves. These materials allow them to troubleshoot their own issue before they reach out to customer support.
It needs to be easily accessible and understandable.
Split the resource section across different categories. It empowers users to self-service.
4. Checkup Calls
Even though check-ins are more like a best practice than a step, it can significantly impact the overall onboarding experience.
It makes your customers feel valued. You can choose to pick up the phone and have a quick call or send an email explicitly offering a checkup call.
The best thing about it is that you get an opportunity to personally understand where your customers are getting stuck. You can get a ton of valuable feedback and, at the same time, help them get more value from your product.
It’s a win-win situation.
5. In-App Notifications
Sending notifications also plays a crucial role in shaping your customer’s overall onboarding experience.
Notifications are a vital contact point between you and your user, with the potential to keep your customers engaged.
You can send push notifications to update them about the newly added feature or give small tips on making the best use of your product.
Users can easily set up push notifications and deliver messages in real-time to their customers. It takes web engagement to the next level.
6. Data Import
Many marketing automation tools need to integrate with other third-party applications to expand its functionalities.
In such cases, customers are required to import their data to be able to connect with other systems.
EngageBay marketing software can connect with hundreds of other powerful apps to better achieve business efficiency.
After your onboarding process, your customers should have a basic sense of your product capabilities and usability.
But the journey doesn’t end there. The next goal would be to transform your customers into your brand ambassadors.
The key to success is aligning your marketing, sales, and service efforts to your customer’s needs and requirements.
So are you ready to turn your customer onboarding experience into your next competitive advantage?