Engaging customers is 100% necessary in modern businesses. In order to begin the process of engagement, it is necessary to have a relevant customer onboarding process. This process will help to deliver your services to new customers. There are some best practices that have been developed to assist with customer onboarding, so be sure to use these as you begin to engage your newest customers with your latest products.
1. Customer Onboarding Begins on Day #1
There are a number of fundamental challenges that must be overcome by the onboarding process, but nothing is more important than customer validation. This means that from the moment you execute a contract with a customer, you should be obtaining some data from them. Their name and address is a good start because that will give your future marketing efforts some life. An address doesn’t have to be where they live. An email address is often just as advantageous.
Don’t substitute squeeze pages or pop-ups as part of the customer onboarding process. Although the process of information gathering is same, where the gathering takes place is very different. Squeeze pages get this information as a result of a contract being formed [i.e. give me your name and email address and I’ll give you a free ebook]. Customer onboarding secures this information after the sale has been made and they’ve already converted [i.e. download this ebook right now and then would you mind giving me your name and email address?].
2. Personalize All of Your Communications
Customers don’t want to feel like they are just another stream of revenue to you. They want to feel important. One of the easiest ways to help customers feel like they are important is to begin personalizing all of the communications that you send their way. Many organizations use coding to do this and then send out mass marketing letters. Don’t do that.
Communication that is personally written to a specific customer will initiate a faster onboarding experience. This type of communication can take some time to complete, but the investment pays off in the end. Customers who receive personal messages are more likely to feel like a company cares about them and this will inspire them to want to purchase something, even if they don’t really need anything at that very moment.
Why? It’s seen as returning a favor. The personal communications show value. Customers show value in return with a purchase.
3. Conduct a Needs Analysis
The first 90 days you have a new customer are the most critical for your business. This is because three-quarters of the upselling you’re going to be able to accomplish is going to occur during this time. In order to effectively upsell, don’t settle for randomly guessing what a customer may need or promote 1 product to everyone. Conduct a needs analysis to determine what individual customers need and then customize a pitch to meet those needs when another sale is made.
There are several ways that you can conduct a needs analysis and do it through the course of your regular interactions.
- Surveys about what customers would like to see in your business can help to examine future products to provide.
- Examining customer behaviors while they shop can help you determine what their overall priorities happen to be.
- Asking questions about personal preferences can help you to determine what current inventory could benefit the customer.
4. Make it Worth Their While
What’s better than being given free stuff? Earning free stuff. Customers respond more often to loyalty programs that let them earn unlimited rewards based on their spending habits than any other program. Credit cards use this concept with their cash back rewards programs. When each purchase made has instant cash back, the instant gratification that the customer receives provides them with an added value to the shopping experience. The same is true if you create a spending-based rewards program.
Rewards programs aren’t the only way to provide value. Companies like Costco offer specific deals that are based on membership tiers. Best Buy sometimes offers rewards club members the chance to come into a store and shop early for certain items. Any increase in value that a customer sees in their purchase will make the onboarding process a lot easier to complete.
5. Offer Your Customers a Welcome Kit
It might not seem like all businesses can benefit from this best practice, but they really can. If a retail store gets a new customer, a welcoming kit that includes exclusive coupons and information about their products can inspire people to come back for a future visit. Stock brokers might offer a kit that offers relevant trading advice to build a financial portfolio. A welcome kit shows customers that your organization cares about them and that care can become the foundation of a very meaningful relationship.
There are some other items that can be commonly found in a customer welcome kit that are often seen as valuable.
- Free samples of other inventory items that can become future upsells.
- Specific contact information so that a customer can get through on a dedicated line if they have a problem in the future.
- Industry contacts to other organizations that are within your referral network.
6. Never Assume That The Data Being Collected is 100% Accurate
The worst mistake anyone can make is to assume that the data being collected by the customer onboarding process is completely accurate. It is easy enough to pretend to be someone else as a customer to get a business to leave you alone. It is up to you to perform your due diligence to make sure that the data customers are giving you is accurate. Although data verification has an added cost, it’s a cheaper cost than sending future onboarding materials to non-existent people.
7. Provide Ongoing Educational Materials
Customer onboarding also becomes easier when customers know more about what you’re able to do. Education can also involve showing customers how your products stack up against the competition in an honest way. Think about the Progressive price list. They compare all major insurance plan rates against their own and allow customers to pick the best insurance from the list. Will they lose business is another insurance company beats their rates? Of course.
There’s also added value in the provision of the price list that can make up for a higher insurance rate for many customers. If Progressive is willing to provide upfront educational materials, then imagine what they would provide if you became their customer? This is a question that every customer asks themselves and when the perceived value meets real value after becoming a customer, the onboarding process becomes more complete.
8. Make Your Sales Pitch Compelling
Providing people with value can only take you so far. At some point, you must also be able to inspire people to take an action. Nothing works better in this best practice than providing a sense of scarcity for a product or service that is being sold or showing intense and immediate values.
“Act now because items are limited and expected to go fast.”
“Use these ideas today to make sure your tomorrow’s are better.”
If you can combine the two, then your CTA will be even more efficient and jumpstart the customer onboarding process for your business.
“Take advantage of this limited time offer so that you can begin to save money immediately.”
9. Let Your Customer Share Their Joy
More than 70% of people say that the information they get from online reviews influences their purchasing decisions. You can take advantage of this with your customer onboarding by providing people with the opportunity to easily share how much they love what you have to offer. Amazon does this directly from the confirmation page by offering a Facebook link that can let people share the deal they got on a specific product.
Why is this a best practice? Each positive share is a form of brand ambassadorship. It’s a positive review that talks about how great the experience with your organization happens to be. The direct impact on family and friends is immediate, but anyone who sees a positive message will be influenced by it in some way.
10. Test it Out
The customer onboarding process isn’t going to be immediately perfect. It is going to have some strengths and weaknesses that will need to be examined. Evaluate the process, tinker with it as necessary, and this will allow you to adapt onboarding over time to be more effective.
Customer onboarding is an essential process in the journey of customer development. By helping customers feel welcome when they make a purchase and by guiding them through the entire value of what you have to offer, there’s a good chance that you’ll experience higher amounts of success. Start today with these tips, personalize them to fit your needs, and you will be amazed at how fast onboarding can translate into better results.