Onboarding your Customers

Onboarding is a process, not a one-and-done action. It goes beyond the handshake not only to prove your value over and over, but also to sustain a meaningful, mutually beneficial relationship.

An on boarded customer is two things:

  1. One that has experienced “initial success” with your product
  2. One that sees the real value potential in their relationship with you

When is a customer onboarded?

  1. The moment they sign up, and
  2. The moment they see success with your product

Here are 6 tips to make your onboarding more successful –

1. Define Expectations — and Set Milestones – Immediately

Defining expectations and milestones is important in the first few days and weeks of engagement with your customers. The biggest question to answer is this: How do we define success? The word “success” is synonymous with the ultimate goal. That means defining what they want out of your engagement, what many in the customer success world call their “desired outcome.”

That will set the stage for setting the customer’s expectations.

Next? Make a plan and make it happen. This will require setting “success milestones” — a fancy word for goal deadlines — and letting your customer define what those will look like during the sales process, no matter what it looks like in your industry.

Most importantly, be very real: make sure you’re setting milestones you can accurately hit every time.

2. Customize the Onboarding Experience

There’s tons of stuff out in the interwebs about customizing the onboarding experience for new employees to make them feel at home. Here’s your lesson: treat your customers like you would a new, valuable employee — consider your customer as a partner and make their onboarding experience specific to them and their needs.

Part of the onboarding experience should be individualizing each account — that should be your general baseline practice, and it will come through defining those expectations, as seen above.

3. Onboard the Team

This means YOUR team. And not just your sales team — the whole team. Make sure everyone who will be involved knows the needs, pain points, story, background, and onboarding process of the customer.

Make no mistake — this is a relatively new concept, made popular by customer success. Doing an internal onboarding brief not only makes the customer an integral part of the everyday functioning of the company, but also aligns the team in a way that will allow for the proper flow and functioning of new ideas, less time briefing, and generally a better-oiled machine.

4. Gather Data

Gather data, gather data, gather data. Whether that looks like website analytics, buying tendencies, typical sales cycle length, how the customer fairs in the overall market, etc., gather data.

Data will also be your go-to not only through the onboarding process but beyond it. Having baseline data to compare progress or failure to will help you define the success of your sales. You must consistently prove your value beyond the onboarding process, but to do so you need to gather the necessary data during the onboarding process.

5. Focus on the Relationship

Again: This is not a sale. This is a partnership. It doesn’t matter if the sale is a matter of seconds or a couple of years but in selling you have created the opportunity for a relationship. Hint: Don’t let it slide on by.

So how do you create a relationship? Assign account managers. Check in. Follow, like, and comment on their content on social media. Call for progress checkups. It’s not rocket science. It’s simple, honest, earnest communication. Trust is the antithesis to churn, and relationships build trust and show value.

6. Bonus: Communicate

Notice throughout each best practice above, communication and contact is necessary for success. Good, consistent communication during the onboarding process will be what makes or breaks your relationship with your customer. Don’t leave them at the sale! Be with them during the initial stages of your engagement, and make sure they know you’re available.

Great customer onboarding is your shelter in the inevitable event of churn. So go forth, evolve, and welcome new customers with excitement, engagement, and enthusiasm.