Congratulations, you’ve secured your new customer! Now to the most important step in the sales process: customer onboarding.
Customer onboarding — or a lack thereof — can make or break your entire relationship. So, to lower the chance of a crumbling customer relationship before it really begins, ensure that you’re always doing a thorough job of onboarding your customers.
Keep reading for a six-step checklist to make sure you’re getting customer onboarding right.
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.
Of potential customers, 74% will find a new solution for their pain point if the onboarding process is too complicated, according to UserPilot. This is because, after purchasing a new product, customers can easily get frustrated and, ultimately, give up on learning the ropes. This is what leads customers to churn.
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.
New Customer Onboarding Checklist
- Record the customer’s information.
- Research the customer and their company.
- Ask all the right questions.
- Create a custom checklist for the customer.
- Offer proactive and reactive support.
- Check in regularly.
A 6-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 important customer data. Avoid this by keeping track of the following details about your customers:
Date of purchase
Company or 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 by searching online. With this background information, you can gauge their level of expertise with similar software — 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. See examples below.
How are your current sales?
This will give you a good understanding of where the customer’s company stands financially.
What is your average customer churn rate? Has that increased or decreased since 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.
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.
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.
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.
Create a custom onboarding timeline based on when your customer would like your product implemented. 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 or if they need to put in some extra effort to get through the process within their preconceived 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.
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 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 preplanned phone calls — whether they be daily, a couple of 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.
By checking in every once in a while, you can nip any frustrations in the bud and prevent churning.
Customer Onboarding — Next Steps
Congratulations on successfully onboarding a new customer! By the end of your onboarding process, you’ll be feeling very proud 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. This is where the work to retain customers begins. Good customer onboarding leads to customer retention. Whatever your customer retention strategy, it first starts after you have successfully onboarded a new customer.
Use this checklist to move you and your new customer past the customer onboarding stage and to ensure your processes are as smooth as possible.
What to Do After an Onboarding Call
- Measure metrics and optimize the onboarding process.
- Maintain the client relationship.
- Create and maintain resources.
- Formalize department handoffs.
1. Measure metrics and optimize the onboarding process.
With each new client, make sure you’re updating your processes and checklists as necessary. There are always ways that you can improve. Consider these metrics:
- 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?
- Do you need to offer more support for the customer?
By measuring these metrics and making changes as needed, you can ensure every onboarding process is better than the last.
2. Maintain the client relationship.
During the customer onboarding stage, you put in the work to build rapport with your client. You sent emails, set up calls, and offered support. Now that your customer is officially with your company, you’ll want to make sure you are periodically checking in with your client.
Are they experiencing issues with your product or service? Maybe they are interested in upgrading to the next tier? By keeping in contact with your client, you’ll be able to maintain the employee-to-customer relationship and potentially upsell to increase your profit margins.
If you don’t want to inundate customers with emails and phone calls, consider automating email campaigns. Automation programs, such as HubSpot’s Marketing Automation Software, connect directly with your CRM. You can use an email template to get you started or personalize your own emails to customers. Integrating your automation software with your CRM will help you and your team remember to follow up with your clients.
3. Create and maintain resources.
Once your client has been successfully onboarded, they may encounter new questions when using your product or service. Be sure to reach out with any relevant resources they might find helpful. Consider automating this process and emailing helpful tips to your clients on a regular basis.
You’ll also want to note any resources that should be created for either you, your client, or your sales reps to help smooth out your processes. If you find that you need a new resource, make sure to create the resource and file it in the shared document library.
4. Formalize department handoffs.
Now that you’ve made a sale and onboarded your new client, you may need to hand your client off to another department, such as the customer service department. Make sure you have the appropriate contact point for each of your company’s departments and pass this information along to your customer. Be sure to have this information readily available, so as not to frustrate your customer by having them search for it instead.
Continually check to make sure your contact lists are up to date with the appropriate phone numbers, emails, and employee names.
Onboarding Customers the Right Way
Customer onboarding is just the start of your client relationship. A strong customer onboarding process will almost guarantee happy, returning customers. Use our checklists and tweak them as needed to make sure you’re successfully onboarding (and keeping!) your clients.
This post was originally published in January 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.