How you introduce new customers to your product or service can make a difference in the overall customer experience (CX). A strong customer onboarding process ensures they understand how to get the most out of their purchase and stay satisfied.
You can set the tone for the rest of your relationship with the client. You also keep the user engaged and thus prevent losing them to a competitor when their term with you ends.
What Will Happen if the Customer Is Not Onboarded?
The Small Business Administration lists around 33.2 million small businesses in the United States. If you don’t onboard your customers, you risk losing them to one of your competitors. While not every business out there is your direct competition, there are plenty of distractions.
Here are the top benefits of customer onboarding:
1. Set a Friendly Tone
Make sure you welcome new users immediately. You can do this by taking them directly to a dashboard if they use your company’s software as a service (SaaS). You can also send an email. Popups are another option to point users to their first step in the onboarding journey.
PandaDoc lets users jump into the process and try the software out or go through a series of “Get Started” steps on the right. The ability to jump right into the process is particularly helpful to returning customers who might have strayed and tried another service but made their way back. Some people are also more tech-savvy than others and will want to get started without going through the steps.
2. Avoid Misunderstandings
An onboarding process helps new users see exactly what you have to offer and the benefits to them. You’ll avoid misunderstandings about what your software or product can do. Setting clear expectations is particularly important during any trial period.
Ideally, your customers will sing your praises and help grow your business via word-of-mouth marketing. Showing what your product can and can’t do early on ensures your customers are satisfied with your transparency and the process.
3. Create a Clear Roadmap
Your onboarding process needs to be on point and without clutter. Ensure you take the user only through the steps they need to understand the product. Think about what you can cut and not lose any meaning.
Excellent onboarding often includes images, headlines, body text, videos, and graphics.
50 Floor does an excellent job explaining the process new customers use to order quality flooring through their company. They list four simple steps and highlight them with icons and text.
- Schedule an Appointment
- Shop at Home
- Get Fast Installation
- Enjoy Your New Floor
When newbies to the brand read how easy it is to install new flooring, they’re much more likely to stick with the company throughout the process and understand what to expect.
4. Personalize the Experience
Look for ways to create a personalized experience for the users. Call them by name. Ask pertinent questions that walk them through the steps they need to get through the initial phases of setup or learning how to use a new product.
You should also reach out with follow-up emails and even a phone call if they seem to struggle to complete onboarding. People sometimes get stalled somewhere within the onboarding process, so reaching out can help motivate them to finish your welcome process.
5. Offer a Progress Bar
People have short attention spans anymore. They may grow frustrated with even a short onboarding process. One way to keep them engaged and show them they are moving through the steps is with a progress bar showing where they are.
The bar typically appears near the top of whatever popups or forms they’re working through, for example. However, you can also use words such as Step # 1 of 4. Think about how to represent your process best and keep the consumer engaged.
MyFitnessPal offers a free look at their app so potential users can try it out before they decide if they want a membership. Their landing page uses a call to action (CTA) button that reads “Get Started.” The person is immediately launched into a series of questions. As you answer the questions on each page, the progress bar across the top starts with a slight bit of blue and moves to the right until the bar fills.
6. Follow Up
If your onboarding doesn’t include following up with new customers, you’re missing the entire point of creating an exceptional CX for your business. As your business scales up, you may not have the manpower to make individual phone calls. However, you can create a series of onboarding emails sent at crucial intervals.
For example, suppose the user finishes the last step for setting up their account. In that case, you can automatically send an email that lets them know if they have any questions, they can consult the Knowledgebase or send in a ticket for additional help.
Some users may not have any problems after onboarding, while others need more hand-holding. Figuring out which ones need the extra attention helps ensure all customers have an excellent experience.
Set It But Don’t Forget It
While you should refine your customer onboarding process from the beginning, you should also tweak it as you go along. Is a CTA confusing some of your new customers? Can you change the wording or placement to meet their needs better? One step may become outdated or unnecessary as you update and change your systems. Excellent customer onboarding requires ongoing tweaking and attention. Put the CX first, and everything else will fall into place.