Signing on a customer is one of the most exciting parts of running a business. You successfully prospected a lead, qualified them, proposed a deal to meet their needs, negotiated the terms of that contract, and closed the deal! Now it's time to start the onboarding process.As soon as your customer's signature is on the contract, you are on the clock. You only have so much time to demonstrate to them that you are not only capable of satisfying their needs but also that you can exceed their expectations. Their customer journey is only just beginning.You need to provide an experience that surpasses their expectations and allows your customers to feel really valued if you want to keep their business for the long term.So, how do you reach that stage? By following these steps during the customer onboarding process:
- Set the Metric for Success
- Identify the Obstacles
- Strategize, Execute, Optimize
Metric for Success
As with any journey, there has to be a mutual end goal for everyone. But for our purposes, the metric for success is about more than just the end goal. It’s also about the key performance indicators along the way (or KPIs). “A KPI is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. Organizations use key performance indicators at multiple levels to evaluate their success at reaching targets,” says Klipfolio. You need to establish with the customer what success looks like for them, now and later. If they’re in need of cash flow for the immediate future, that has to be your first objective. If cash flow isn’t an issue but public relations is, then that’s where your path will begin. Business.com wrote an article on 14 tools that could help track KPIs for your business which is worth looking through for a high-level overview of the products that are out there. However, know that no third party will be able to determine what’s most important for you. The onus of that is on you and your team. Demonstrate knowledge and then open the onboarding process with an in-depth conversation between everyone involved. You will be able to get all concerns and goals out in the open from the beginning and develop trust. Truly listening and hearing everyone is essential, not only for this step, but for the entirety of the customer journey.
Identify the Obstacles
Your next step to create a successful onboarding process is to figure out what obstacles are in your way. You want to negate any possible friction between your customer and smooth service experience. Rely on your previous experience to figure out possible pain points. This is one of the reasons why listening to feedback is so important for businesses. “Do you take the time to review your comments on a regular basis? Do you offer a workable solution for legitimately disgruntled customers?”we've asked. “Don’t get defensive when reviewing feedback. You’re getting a peek into the customer experience for free, which is extremely valuable. Listen and learn.”If more information is necessary, talk to your customer service team and ask for recurring tickets. Collaboration between departments is essential, not just in this small example but in producing proactive efforts for customer success. When you are able to be proactive and anticipate customers’ hopes and concerns, as well as the points of potential friction, you demonstrate to them that you really understand their needs. The more you are able to demonstrate this to them, the more they will entrust you with the rest of the process and allow you to guide them through the customer journey. Impressing the customer doesn’t always mean knowing more than them; it’s also about knowing as much as they do. Trust is a long-term foundation to be built upon. It requires consistent successes to be at the level you’ll need down the road. Every step matters.
Strategize, Execute, Optimize
These three steps are the final part of any process, including the customer onboarding process. Now that you know where you’re going, how you want to get there, and what potential obstacles to expect along the way, you simply need to make it happen.Strategize the exact plan for you and the customer, run the plan, and then review it afterwards. Whether this is your first customer onboarding experience or your 50,000th, always treat it as your first one. It is always the customers' first experience with you. Providing an excellent first experience lays the groundwork for the rest of your working relationship. It is important to remember that no step of your process is immune from being questioned. There has to be a culture where the statement, “This is the way we’ve always done it” is banned. An air of openness where everything can be questioned, modified, and improved is crucial. By cultivating this type of environment, you will find that people will feel safe and able to make recommendations and suggestions can your process from a 10/10 to an 11/10.
Move Forward With Excellent Onboarding
Don’t treat onboarding like a chore! You should approach it as a celebration of your new customer, and a promise to deliver the best experience possible. You set the tone for a client relationship when you onboard, so you need to make it a memorable one. Make sure you can measure your experience, identify possible obstacles, and optimize your plan. Numbers and data are important, customer onboarding processes and systems of implementation are essential, but people are the market. Remember the people and they’ll remember you.