While an existing and loyal customer base is an essential factor for the health of your business, attracting new customers is essential for growth and expansion.
It’s not just a case of a customer deciding they like your brand and products, though. You also have to ensure that the process of them coming ‘onboard’ is a smooth and painless one.
Effective onboarding is particularly important in the software as a service (SaaS) niche. Providing customers with an easy and frictionless entry point to your service keeps them engaged and will ultimately boost customer lifetime value (LTV).
The onboarding process is a crucial step in the customer journey. Get it right, and you improve customer satisfaction at that vital stage, which can have a big impact on your bottom line.
According to Mckinsey research, a one-point improvement in NPS equates to at least a 3% increase in revenue growth rate
How you define and provide an entry point for customers, and that first impression, will play a major role in their ongoing relationship with your organization. If that entry point proves awkward and painful, then there is a good chance the relationship will be doomed before it has even begun.
Ensuring that your customer onboarding process is an efficient one, as well as one that welcomes each customer with a positive first impression and presents no difficulties, is pivotal to growing your customer base. It will also go a long way to ensuring good customer retention rates and brand loyalty. Good task management software can be an important part of that process, but you also need to think more deeply. And that needs to start from the very kickoff of your relationship.
Customer relationship management (CRM) is something that will be intrinsically linked to your onboarding process. But just what is that customer onboarding process? What defines successful product onboarding? And does a good customer onboarding process really have a positive effect on future revenue?
What is customer onboarding
The customer onboarding process (or client onboarding process) describes how someone moves from the start of their relationship with your company to “business as usual”, and beyond. It’s how they interact with you and form a connection with your business.
Most businesses have a customer onboarding process, even if you have no contact with your customers. When someone buys something online, the customer’s purchasing experience is part of their onboarding. They have started to form a relationship with your company.
Before going further, it is worth looking at some case studies and statistics related to customer onboarding:
- 63% of customers stated that the onboarding process played a role in their decision to buy.
- If a customer is highly engaged, they will buy 90% more frequently and spend 60% more per transaction.
- 74% of customers will be more likely to check in again to a user-friendly website, and 50% will not return if the site is not.
- 90% of customers believe businesses could provide a better onboarding process.
- 74% of customers will switch brands if they find the purchasing process difficult.
- 80% of people delete apps if they do not know how to use them.
These statistics clearly show us that customers want a smooth journey, and that the onboarding process should be easy and lack pain points.
In practical terms, the best use cases of customer onboarding are likely to cover the early stages of the customer journey, from kickoff of delivering your product or services. The best onboarding strategy usually starts towards the end of your sales process, so may be initiated by your sales team or it might start when the customer has been handed over to your customer success function.
For example, if you run a consultancy business, your client onboarding checklist may include briefing the relevant teams on the new customer, a kick-off meeting, defining expectations, and setting up your customer on your systems. It may also include using email templates to collect or deliver information, or simply to send a welcome email.
Client onboarding is intrinsically linked with customer experience. Creating a great customer experience from the outset is essential to retaining that client longer term – and we all know that customer retention is better than new client acquisition. For that reason, onboarding should be an important part of project management.
What defines successful product onboarding?
The first thing to consider is why you want a good onboarding process. Many people look to it primarily as a way of reducing a business’s churn rate. While that may be one result of a good process, your main focus should be on ensuring that new users achieve what they were looking for when they came to your site, and that their outcome is positive.
Successful onboarding experiences could be measured or defined in a number of ways:
- They have achieved FVD (first value delivered) with your product or service.
- The customer or client may not have reached that FVD point, but they do see the potential and future value of a relationship with your brand. This could be the point during a free trial where the customer realizes that the next step is to make a full purchase.
What you should also be considering is not what you see as a milestone of success, but what the customer sees as success. You want to investigate what outcomes they want and what they see as being key milestones. This can be done on a sales call or through clear online steps that guide them and inform you. Showing your customer you’re most concerned with what they get out of a relationship with you helps build trust in your online services.
The importance of good customer experience
For many small businesses, the first impression they create is very much tied into the customer onboarding experience. This is the overarching term to describe the set of processes that new customers go through when they begin their journey with a new provider. It is a hugely important process, potentially defining the entire on-going relationship from that point onwards.
It’s essential for small businesses to get customer onboarding right, but it’s also something that not all of them do. The reason that they don’t, mostly comes back to one main point – a lack of documented and accessible processes for SME employees to follow.
The importance of process during customer onboarding cannot be overstated. Process Bliss research in 2019 revealed that 43% of SME employees say their company has lost customers because of failed processes. Getting onboarding right, then, can have a profound impact on turnover, cash-flow, and the bottom line.
What is the goal of a customer onboarding strategy?
There are a number of goals you can identify as being your desired outcomes. Enhanced customer experiences,though, should be the umbrella goal you are hoping to achieve. Your onboarding process represents the first true interaction between you and the customer, and it can help define both initial and future experiences.
You may have more specific goals within that umbrella of good customer experience, however. The overall objective of your customer onboarding strategy should be to achieve the goals you have identified. Always remain mindful of the many processes your business needs.
Whatever your individual goals, it is also important that experiences are consistent at different touchpoints.
What is the difference between high touch and low touch onboarding?
How you structure your customer onboarding process will depend on your needs, the needs of the customer, your business model, your product or service, and more. One firm decision you need to make, though, is whether you will use a high touch or low touch onboarding approach. What do these terms actually mean, however? Glad you asked.
Low touch onboarding
Put simply, a low touch process would be one that has little or no human contact with your customers. In some cases, the onboarding process may be entirely automated and at no point will the customer ‘talk’ to a human agent. It could involve automatically sending onboarding emails to welcome the customer or providing specific tutorials and webinars.
If your product or service needs little in the way of explanation, then you are more likely to go the low touch route, and integrate automation and machine learning in your process. You would have narrower predefined milestones to measure progress and how far on board the customer is at any given time. It can include giving a customer access to your knowledge base or sending an onboarding email when needed.
High touch onboarding
At the other end of the scale lies a high touch process. This is where there is more interaction between team members and the customer. While there may still be a degree of automation, it will be far less prominent than in a low touch scenario. It is also more likely to happen in real time.
With high touch onboarding, the experience is more personalized and tailored towards improving customer experience. While you may choose a high touch approach purely for that reason, it is more likely you will opt for it for one of five principal reasons:
- You have a more complicated product or service. One that may need more real-time interaction with a team member as well as crucial elements such as videos, manuals, etc.
- Your product or service is customized to the customer before implementation, and so needs unique configuration.
- You incorporate comprehensive customer training as part of the onboarding process.
- Onboarding and/or overall service delivery is project-based, and thus often has multiple phases.
- Implementation of the product or service requires an input of data or information from the customer.
Creating a successful customer onboarding process
While, of course, you want customers to successfully onboard for your own future benefits, the primary consideration should remain that they achieve their desired outcomes. Whatever it is that makes them happy and have a better customer experience is more likely to drive retention and brand loyalty. How do you do that?
- Goals and expectations. How do you define what goals to set? They are your customers’ goals so why not simply ask them?
- Simplicity. A complicated process is going to put customers off. In fact, make it too complicated and they may simply exit the process. Keep things simple and precise at each stage of the process.
- Baby steps. You do not need to share everything during the onboarding process. Other information can come later in the relationship. For now, it is about those first baby steps to cementing that relationship.
Our new customer onboarding template
You may be asking, why use a template? One analogy to think of is that you would not plan a long journey without consulting a map. And while needs may vary, we believe that the Process Bliss template offers that ideal road map that identifies all the crucial steps needed.
- Collect key information. Who is the main contact? What is their contact information? Why did they choose us? What do they want to achieve from the relationship?
- Send a personal message welcoming the new customer.
- Let other relevant team members know about customer acquisition.
- Send a support email to your client with any required info, such as other staff they may need to contact, any relevant site details, what happens next, etc.
- Assign any team roles as required.
- Set scopes of relationship, timeframes, etc., potentially through an initial kickoff call.
- Follow up call or email if required.
- Depending on your product or service, is there help or training required? If so, arrange at customer’s convenience.
- Update call. How are they progressing? Are there any issues you can help with? This would be ideal around one week after purchase or signup.
- Ongoing relationship. Product updates, new products, training webinars, etc.
As with the other templates available in our Template Library, you should evaluate and expand your templates to make it more appropriate to your business.
What impact does customer onboarding have on revenue?
A good customer onboarding process can have a significant knock-on effect on your revenue, as it not only brings new clients onboard with your brand, but also encourages customer loyalty and retention. In fact, research shows that for every point increase in your onboarding NPS score, a business will see an average of 3% increase in revenue. And a satisfied customer is more likely to give a referral to your business.
Now while that 3% may not sound like a large figure, when you look at businesses with multi-million dollar turnovers, that 3% can represent a large increase in overall revenue at the end of the fiscal year.
How do you track onboarding success?
Tracking and measuring your client onboarding is not just a matter of simply counting new sales or new sign ups. As with most critical business processes, you want more detailed metrics and analytics that give you a more focused snapshot. A snapshot that can identify any weak links in your current process (as well as validating strong elements). Think about:
- How long does it take customers to complete the onboarding process? This may vary according to what the process involves (or what is needed for them to understand the product or service).
- The point at which your customer reaches first-time value. This again could vary. With a technical product, such as SaaS, it would be at the point, during or after installation, that they realize the value of the product they have purchased.
- When they move from ‘free’ to paid. Free trials are great for customers as they give them a chance to try a product with no financial outlay. There is no value to the business, though, until that becomes a conversion. That conversion is validation, not only of your product itself, but also of your onboarding processes.
- Customer progress. If part of your client onboarding process involves training or ‘how to’ steps, a good measure of success is when they complete each step or module. How quickly they complete the steps not only measures onboarding success but can also guide you as to whether any changes are needed in the provided material.
- Engagement. Once they have passed the initial steps of coming onboard with you, how often they then engage with your service, product, or website can be a good measure of what they have thought of the onboarding process.
- Surveys. As with many other components of ecommerce or other business models, surveys can be a good way to measure customer onboarding, too. Perhaps the best idea is seeing what NPS (net promoter score) the customers you onboard are willing to give you. A high score is what you want to see, but low scores (detractors) can also indicate where you may be going wrong. Good NPS also leads to more referrals from a happy customer.
- Response times. No process is 100% perfect, but part of your onboarding success can be measured by how quickly you respond to and deal with issues and complaints. You can also include average response times in this metric for how quickly more general queries are dealt with.
- Churn rate. While reducing churn rate should not be your primary focus, it is a good measure of how good or bad your onboarding process is. If you have a high churn rate, then you need to closely examine your current process to see how it can be improved on.
How to make continual improvement part of your onboarding strategy
It is rare to be entirely satisfied with any business process and the same goes for customer onboarding. Constant evaluation of the process you use, and adjusting/changing it when needed has to be an integral part of your strategy. By using the Process Bliss onboarding template, you can vastly improve your entire process.
In fact, Process Bliss offers a wide range of templates for all the recurring processes that happen within your organizational structure, not just onboarding. The advantages of these templates include:
- Fitting with all repeat processes and allowing you to use for each new customer.
- Simple scheduling setup so everyone involved knows what they have to do and by when.
- Detailed reports that show exactly where each new customer is within the onboarding process.
- Instant blocker identification. This can help with process improvement as, if a certain step cannot be done repeatedly, you will know that part of the process needs to be changed or tweaked.
Improve customer experience with a bespoke customer onboarding template
While there are tangible business benefits to onboarding, such as increased revenue for your company, your primary focus should remain on improving customer experience from the very start. When customers have a positive experience and find your onboarding process leads to their desired outcomes, then those other factors such as revenue and retention will come naturally.
Process Bliss has examined the needs of onboarding from the ground up and have designed their template to help you to help your customers. But we realize every business has different needs which is why with our free trial you can get your own bespoke customer onboarding template. There is no initial cost to you, so why not get your Process Bliss onboarding template today?