Overlooked Elements in The Customer Onboarding Process

And how to make sure you keep them in mind while onboarding your customers
Shuvedha Subramaniam
October 31, 2021
Blogs
Main Illustration:
Sivaprakash

Overlooked Elements in The Customer Onboarding Process

And how to make sure you keep them in mind while onboarding your customers
Shuvedha Subramaniam
October 31, 2021
Blogs
Main Illustration:
Sivaprakash

In This Post

 This blog is a part of the 666 series of our Halloween Heist Contest.‍

With all their magical powers and bubbling potions, witches always seem to have some mischief brewing in their cauldrons. And how do you think they get their mischief managed every time? They follow the recipe for their potions to the tee and make it a point to serve only the perfect version of their brews. 

A customer onboarding process is a lot like brewing the perfect potion. It involves a series of essential elements that are critical in delighting the customer. Onboarding is not just about teaching new customers how to use your product. The best customer onboarding strategy has the customer's goals ingrained in it. 

Now, every customer success team is looking to perfect this process and retain its customers. So how do they achieve success without having sleepless nights? It is simple. They brew the perfect potion!

And in all curiosity, to understand what critical elements are usually overlooked in the onboarding process, we ran a poll on our social media handles to identify the most overlooked aspect of customer onboarding. While 30.3% of the respondents chose customer education and training, 27.9% chose the duration and structure of the onboarding process. 22.5% chose documentation, and 19.3% opted to identify and manage risks. 

No matter what the most overlooked element, they all tend to have the same effect on the process. Ultimately, you run the risk of having strained relationships with your customers. 

Before jumping into how to solve the overlooked elements, let us begin by understanding the elements of an onboarding process. 

THE ‘HELL’ LEMENTS or ELEMENTS THAT GIVE YOU HELL WHEN OVERLOOKED

  1. A Warm Welcome: Extend your gratitude to the customer for choosing you. Build in an automated welcome email or welcome modal to show you are thrilled. Presume this phase to be more in terms of being celebratory. 
  2. The Discovery and Kickoff Calls: Get to know your customer's pain points, challenges, and preferred solutions and keep it simple. Since you begin to set expectations at this point, your first interaction with the customer needs to leave them with a positive impression of you. 
  3. Documentation: This is a not-so-exciting phase for all but is one that will set your customer up for empowerment. Ensure that when customers get stuck, they can get easy-to-comprehend and accessible guidance. Make sure that the documentation is easily maintainable and up to date.
  4. The Product Tour: Offer a short and optional setup wizard. Or walk your customer through an interactive guided tutorial. Demonstrate the value of your product at each stage and manage their expectations. 
  5. The First Login: Value delivery is one way to look at it. Get the ball rolling with an automated message triggered by the first login. Give customers a clear place to start and positively reinforce how awesome things are going to be.
  6. Data Migration: Until your customer's data is ingested into your product and made usable, your product remains an empty box providing no value to your customer. You have to onboard your customer's data before you truly onboard your customer. Prepare your customers to clean their data before migrating to a smoother onboarding process and quicker value realization. 
  7. Playtime! It is time for your customers to explore the product on their own and play with it. To always keep your customer in the know, add feature blurbs of your product. Create a knowledge base or FAQs section to help customers solve issues on their own. 
  8. Check-ins: Provide a 5-star experience by constantly looking to know how it is working out for them. Share best practices with customers and provide support when required.
  9. What's next? Develop steps for complete product adoption and long-term value realization, including means for measuring the onboarding process. Include aspects of communication, value orientation, process, automation, team and org alignment, etc.

Hold on to your pointy hats, for it is too soon for you to celebrate a win right after a customer has purchased your product. There are still a few critical, often-overlooked potions that need to be perfected during customer onboarding. 

Potion 1: Customer Education & Training

No customer ever has exclaimed that they love long product tours that show them all the features that they don't need at the moment. 

Customers always look to max out on the total and intended potential of your product or service. And, if and when they are unable to do so, they begin to leave. Now, this instance can be described as spine-chilling, blood-curdling, or simply horrifying to customer success teams. But, it may also be your much-needed wake-up call to start thinking about a customer education program. 

‘Customer education, albeit extremely important, is paid very little attention by businesses today,’ says Bill Cushard of ServiceRocket in one of our podcasts. It is the content designed to onboard, engage, and retain your new and existing customers. Simply put, customer education is a tool to teach the customer how to use your product to achieve value faster. 

Your customer education phase begins even before customers buy your product and continues throughout the customer lifecycle. While your prospective customers might need education on how your product has helped other customers solve a problem, your new customers might need education on the basics of how to use your product. On the other hand, long-term customers might be looking to optimize their use of the product for extended value. 

Ultimately, it is wise to start educating your customer at the earliest, for scalable customer education is one of the most significant levers for long-term customer success. They also benefit you by improving product adoption, driving lead generation, and increasing renewals, thereby ensuring your customer lifetime value (or LTV) is on a steady upward plane. 

Potion 2: Documentation 

Documentation is the knowledge base or resource section where customers can find solutions to common issues independently. These materials work as an onboarding buddy and allow customers to try troubleshooting on their own before they reach out to your customer support. The key here is to have all such documentation easily accessible and understandable, equipping the customer with a thorough, supportive, and collaborative onboarding experience.

Save your tears because out-of-date documentation can quite literally eat you alive. It is important to validate your documentation from time to time to solve your customer's obstacles. 

  1. Consider creating an FAQ section. The questions can be easily documented and will help speed up the onboarding process.
  2. Meanwhile, kickoff documentation could provide a newcomer with insights into some of the common factors such as the features of your product, how it works, etc. 
  3. Try your hand at recording tutorial videos to familiarize customers with the functionalities of your product. 
  4. Infographics or structure diagrams may also ensure seamless onboarding. Set up a meeting with the customer to introduce them to your documentation. 

With documentation, your onboarding process becomes significantly more manageable, and you will need to spend less time educating your customer at every step. And to avoid overwhelming your customer with information, maintain your documentation and keep it simple. 

Potion 3: Identifying and Managing Risks

Customers grow more valuable over time. It thus becomes all the more vital to keep them always happy and interested in renewing. Still, every so often, dissatisfaction may silently creep up on any customer relationship, especially if you do not communicate the value of your product regularly. To salvage the sinking relationship fast and save yourself from the churn, you must identify and manage risks efficiently. 

Risk management is the practice of proactively identifying, analyzing, planning, and monitoring potential risks. It can be anything that might impact a project's success: delayed timelines, overloaded budgets, or even reduced performance in any way. A few common risk scenarios include data security, communication issues, scheduling delays, and unplanned work. 

Identifying and managing risks is more about being proactive rather than being reactive. Meanwhile, the theory of constraints, a framework to help identify the weakest link in any project process, would be an apt fit to reduce risks and address them for any project or process that has already been kicked off. 

  1. Come up with a risk management framework during your planning phase.
  2. Identify all and any potential risks, and monitor their impact.
  3. Analyze the likelihood, severity, and response plan.
  4. Prioritize your risks based on your risk register
  5. Depending on the complexity of potential risks, brainstorm and analyze with your team and key stakeholders. 
  6. Work towards mitigating any risks to always stay on track in terms of budget and target.

Potion 4: Duration and structure of onboarding 

It is good news if your customers like you. It means they already believe in your product. The tricky part is, however, having to keep it that way. Follow a standardized, structured experience to always delight your customers. 

To get there:

  1. Set a goal and plan ahead.
  2. Start with an objective in mind.
  3. Establish customer-centric goals and stay in constant communication. 
  4. Keep it specific to your product and customer base. 
  5. Create a solid onboarding experience for your customer by understanding their buyer persona in and out. 
  6. Make it a personalized experience and disseminate information ever so slowly and selectively. 
  7. Reemphasize the value your product will provide. 
  8. Be with your customers all through the way. 
  9. Celebrate small wins and seek to impress. 

Remember that while you may have hundreds or more touchpoints with various customers, each customer has only one impression of you. So, the more you treat your customer interaction experiences holistically, the better. 

And to top it all off with a little extra zest, a few secret potions just for your Customer Success Team.  

  1. Say yes to being involved in the sales process. 
  2. Ensure a proper sales-to-success handoff, without which you often end up flying blind when designing and implementing the onboarding.  
  3. Keep an eye on the customer brief stage where you outline or confirm objectives & measures for success.

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Shuvedha Subramaniam
Content Marketer @ Rocketlane

Marketing Intern @ Rocketlane. An Advocate by choice and a penwoman for the love of it. When the world zips, I like to zoink. Also, being happy by being kind.

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