Congratulations! You've secured your new customer. After days -- weeks, months, etc. -- of talking them through the options, they've finally put down the card and sealed the deal with you. You could probably cry of happiness.
However, the most important step is quickly approaching. Customer onboarding -- or a lack thereof -- can make or break your entire customer relationship. So, to lower the chance of that occurring, ensure that you're always doing a thorough job of onboarding your customers.
What Is Customer Onboarding?
Customer onboarding is the process customers undergo post-purchase when acquainting themselves with their new product or service. This process is essential to the customer experience.
According to Groove, 40-60% of software users will open new software once -- and only once. This is because, after purchasing a new product, customers can easily get confused and frustrated and, ultimately, give up on learning the ropes. This is what leads customers to churn; they purchase from you and then disappear forever.
Now that you know how important customer onboarding is, use the following checklist to ensure you never miss a step in educating your customer to the best of your ability.
A 7-Step New Customer Onboarding Checklist to Use on Calls
1. Record the customer's information.
You never want to end up in a situation where you realize you forgot to note some important aspect of the customer. Now, when trying to go back into your records to locate the customer's file, they've somehow disappeared.
Avoid this by keeping track of the following details about your customers:
3. Phone Number
4. Date of Purchase
5. Plan Purchased
6. Company / Organization (if Applicable)
2. Research the customer and their company.
Before beginning any onboarding, you should have a solid understanding of your client and their business. It is a waste of a customer's time if you have to ask them basic questions about who they are, where they work, and what their role is.
You can learn a lot about your customer's business just from searching online. By understanding their experience in the field, you can gauge what level their expertise with similar software currently is -- whether it be basic, intermediate, or advanced.
3. Ask all the right questions.
After research, you'll likely be left with some unanswered questions. These are the questions you should be asking your customers directly. Some examples include:
1. How are your current sales?
This will give you a good understanding of where the customer's company stands, financially.
2. What is your average customer churn rate? Has that increased or decreased since the last year?
The first question will help you realize how much -- if at all -- the customer is focusing on customer experience in their brand. Based on that response, you can gauge with the second question whether they've improved their customer experience or not.
3. Who are your main competitors?
This will help you grasp what organizations are in a similar sector and what software those companies are already using.
4. What are the main issues currently affecting your organization?
You'll want to hear straight from the client what are the pressing issues that they're currently dealing with and how learning this new product can help them start solving those issues.
5. By when would you like to be sufficiently acquainted with the product?
This will help you plan a schedule for your onboarding later on.
4. Created a custom checklist for the customer.
You may have a general template for all your customer onboarding checklists, but each one should be specifically tailored to the customer. Based on their responses to the previous questions, you can recognize what their difficulty level is and why they need to learn the new product.
In creating this checklist, you should use their answer to the final question above to set up the onboarding process for a certain schedule. Having a deadline will help you know how quickly the customer should be learning. Thus, you'll know if your customer can take their time learning or if they need to put in some extra effort on their own time to get through the process within their pre-conceived timeframe.
5. Offer proactive and reactive support.
Even when you're in the stage of onboarding your customer, it's important to remember that you are still in an employee-to-customer relationship. That means that you should still be displaying your best customer service and support techniques to said customer.
Don't just blindly follow your onboarding checklist. Think about the ways in which your customer might need some extra help. Answer all their questions, but also provide proactive support. Consider the ways in which they might stumble along the way and provide solutions for those obstacles before your customers even face them. Show them that you care and want them to be successful by planning ahead.
6. Check in regularly.
Similarly, you shouldn't just speak with the customer during your pre-planned phone calls -- whether they be daily, a couple times a week, or weekly. In this case, out of sight, out of mind doesn't apply. You should always be thinking about your customer.
While you don't want to overwhelm them with endless missed calls, your customers will appreciate an email once in a while checking in on their personal progress. Ask them how their product is running and if they've started developing their own apps. Send them links to relevant blog posts, additional tips, and techniques. By checking in every once in a while, you can nip in the bud any frustrations that customers face on their own time that might result in their giving up and churning.
7. Measure your progress.
By the end of your onboarding process, you'll probably be feeling very proud of yourself and a bit relieved that it's all over. Your customer has spread their wings and flown out of the nest, and your work is done. Except, it's not.
There are always ways that you can improve. How long did your onboarding take? Did the successful onboarding lead them to refer friends or make an additional purchase? Were there ways that you could've moved things along faster or been more of a support for the customer? By measuring these metrics, you can ensure that every onboarding process is better than the last.
To learn more, read this post about how to write an effective welcome email next.
Originally published Jan 3, 2019 8:00:00 AM, updated June 15 2021