Reviving a customer onboarding project when you’ve been ghosted

How to bring a project back to life when there's radio silence from the customer
March 13, 2021
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Krishna Kumar

In the previous post, we looked at the various reasons why a customer might have ghosted you amidst an onboarding process and how you can avoid getting ghosted in the future.

In this post, we look at how you can take to bring your project back to life - understanding the reason for the radio silence and taking action to nudge your customers at the right time.  

Understanding the real why

We’ve discussed the common reasons for customer ghosting, but here are ways to understand why you got ghosted. 

1. Get the facts

Before you jump to conclusions, make sure you’ve got all the facts. At your end, go back and check if you had narrowed down specific action items for the customer - people may delay or avoid communicating because they’re confused. 

 At the customer end, find out if: 

  1. Your liaison is sick, on holiday, or no longer with the company.
  2. There is an important event or crisis within the company. 
  3. It is a busy or slow time for the sector or the company.

2. Talk to your Sales team

You’d agree that your colleagues in sales have a lot more experience dealing with ghosting. If a team is ghosting you, it is likely your sales team has seen some of this before - maybe even from the same company. 

Talk to the account manager/executive to figure out what's happening. They have a relationship with the project champion and can help find out why you landed here. Even if they might not have the exact reason, they’d help you narrow down the options. 

3. Employ negative labeling 

A sure-shot way to get a response is to use negative labeling in an email that forces them to respond. You could send an email like this one: 

Hi X, 
Checking in since we didn't hear back. I wanted to understand if you have given up on this project and are no longer interested in increasing your sales conversions by 50%?
 Or has something else has come up that's stopping your project team from engaging with us right now?

Or this one: 

Hi X, 
I’m writing to follow up with you on our emails and calls. Since we haven’t heard back from you, we are guessing that it’s just not the right time for you. 
If that is indeed the case, do I have your permission to close your account and assign our project team to another project?
If you’re still interested, do please let us know how you’d like us to proceed.
Thanks for your support.

The extreme anchor of "given up on the project" or “closing the account” will pull the customer back to give you a response and open up on what's happening. The key is to craft your message with the right balance of empathy, respect, and flexibility so you come across as sincere and accommodating, not threatening or resentful. 

Review, Reconnect, or Abort

Once you have the reason, you can figure out the next course of action. If it’s a matter of bad timing or organizational changes, you could change your approach based on what works better for the customer.

If there is an issue with expectations or a disappointing onboarding experience, use that knowledge to relook your project plan. Make sure to involve the rest of your implementation team to build ownership and see what you could change to better support the customer.

If none of this works and the ghosting continues, talk to the sales team and your leadership team. In some cases, it might be best to walk away from the project -  as hard as it may seem. Before you leave, close the loop with a final note where you commit to staying connected and being available for them. 

More resources

  1. Four customer onboarding strategies for happy end users 
  2. How pre- and post-sales interactions impact your business
  3. How to leverage customer onboarding to reduce churn

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Srikrishnan Ganesan
Co-founder, Rocketlane

Love technology and start-ups. Your friendly neighbourhood CX and onboarding enthusiast. Follow me on Twitter @srikrishnang

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