How to leverage customer onboarding to reduce churn

Learn how you can significantly reduce churn with a better customer onboarding experience
October 12, 2022
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If you've been following our blogs, you're probably aware that we've made the following statement a million times.

Customers WILL churn if you do not earn their trust in the early stages of the relationship you build with them.

The onus, therefore, is on you to make your customers believe that you’re a capable enough partner they can engage with. The fact that they’ve bought your product is merely the first step in the relationship building process. How you come across during the customer onboarding journey, how well you impress them and showcase value with your offering will determine if the partnership will be long-lasting. 

If they encounter friction, delays, or too many issues during onboarding, your customers will start doubting their decision. And once that doubt sets in, it's only a matter of time before they start shopping for other options. 

Research by Bain and Co. has shown that even a measly 5% increase in customer retention and avoiding churn can increase your profits by a whopping 25% to 95%. 

So how, then, can you reduce churn risk and ensure a strong relationship with every single one of your customers? Let’s find out. 

1. Be reliable in your customer’s eyes

This is the first thing that's going to determine if this partnership is going to be long lasting or not. Your onboarding process should be structured in a way that allows your customers to feel comfortable and confident working with you. Remember that they are constantly judging your ability to deliver in the early days. Reflect with your team about how you want your customers to perceive you and the first impression you want to create. If you nail the initial interactions, you can make confirmation bias work in your favor. If they begin the customer onboarding journey thinking you’re a reliable partner, they’re likely to look for evidence to confirm the impression they have of you and your team. However, if you get off on the wrong foot, they will continually look to confirm their negative opinion and you’ll be left playing catch up for a long while. 

2. Demonstrate ROI by showcasing value early on

Price is often a deal breaker. Your customers may churn if they find a more cost-effective or cheaper solution to their problems. This is why it’s super critical to demonstrate value early on and make your customers believe that their purchase is indeed worthwhile. Your onboarding should not only focus on getting the customer live, but should also solve for value and ROI. 

Is your customer actually using your product? Do they understand the value they're getting from it?

Let’s suppose you’ve built an all-in-one project tracking tool that promises to replace the use of multiple spreadsheets for your customer onboarding process. And you’ve gotten the customer live. All the templates are set and their Salesforce integration is also configured. After a month, you realize that your customer is still using spreadsheets because they find it more convenient. 

What happened here?

Your production adoption strategy was probably not sufficient. Maybe your training failed. Maybe the value that you add to each user's life did not come through sufficiently.

This essentially means the people who are supposed to use your tool did not understand how your product is going to benefit them on a daily basis, or they tried it out and didn't see the value. 

To truly help them adopt your tool and replace their spreadsheets workflow, you need to educate them well. You need to showcase how much time you’re going to save them, and how efficient their workflow would be if they began using your tool. You need to clearly communicate the value of your offering. 

This means going the extra mile if you have to. Maybe figure out the change management at their end for them because it is going to be hard for someone to shift from system A to system B. And the onus is on you to make them see the benefit of making that shift. It’s not going to be easy, but hey, you knew that already, didn’t you?

Click here if you’re looking for ideas on how you can start showcasing value early on in the customer onboarding journey.  

Creating Early Wins with The First Value Delivery Framework

3. Be proactive when it comes to fixing issues

Let’s be honest here. Delays, issues, and escalations are inevitable during customer onboarding. 

What’s less commonly seen amongst onboarding teams is the tenacity to turn problems around when they come up. If you're able to resolve issues quickly, then the customer's confidence in you grows. We’ve seen this manifest everywhere. Problems are part and parcel of any game, and people are more forgiving if prompt service and responsiveness are provided to these problems.

Collecting feedback on a regular basis is one way to stay proactive on this front. For instance, you can consider soliciting feedback at the end of every phase or big milestone in the onboarding project to gauge customer sentiment. If there’s anything they weren’t happy with, you’d know sooner, giving you the opportunity to nip disappointments in the bud.  

You should ideally want all your customers to think that your team is dependable even when things go wrong.

How to collect actionable feedback on your customer onboarding experience 

4. Never overwhelm customers

If customers feel a sense of overwhelm with all the training, tasks, and follow ups from your end, they’ll start to disengage and eventually stop using your product. 

A way to prevent this is to ensure  you have a steadily incremental approach to your customer onboarding journey. Start small and slowly increase pace to make sure your customers are with you throughout the process. Don’t bombard them with too much information or things to do early on. Have a roadmap for your customer onboarding process and show it to your clients even before the journey begins so that you set the right expectations up front. 

A 'Readiness Kit' for customer onboarding

5. Learn from churn 

Let’s face the facts. Despite our best efforts and intentions, some customers are going to churn. What we can do is learn from these customers and be prepared to handle churn in the future. Investigate why these customers churned in the first place. At what stage of onboarding do customers generally leave? Are there any signs you can spot before it happens? Do they stop using your product well before they decide to leave forever? Can you reach out to these dormant customers and figure out why they’ve stopped using your product?

Once you identify the signs, you can stop future at-risk customers in their tracks by re-engaging with them. And with regular feedback coming in, you’re more in control of your company’s churn situation. 

More resources

  1. How quality customer education enhances value delivery
  2. How pre- and post-sales interactions impact your business
  3. Who should own customer onboarding?
  4. How Rocketlane Does Customer Onboarding: People, Process, Tools

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Rahul Sridhar
Content Marketer @ Rocketlane

Content Marketer at Rocketlane. Former teacher turned tech writer. Occasionally dabbles in comedy and rap music.

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