Customer onboarding is an important part of modern business operations going beyond lead generation. It is crucial for impeding churn prediction and prevention, allowing the company to hold onto essential assets and provide value to customers efficiently. This is especially pertinent for smaller businesses that have a smaller pool of total clients.
Onboarding new customers allows them to start using your products more effectively from the get-go. From initial sign-up to product activation and first use, it can streamline the entire usage process. Effective customer onboarding delivers value to your customer as early as possible, conserving headaches and lost time so the company can ensure a satisfied client.
It’s especially good for fostering customer loyalty in b2b, where the services are often functional. Proper introductions to a system can go a long way. As studies indicate, 1 out of 4 apps is abandoned after a single usage cycle.
This article will examine customer onboarding, churn, strategies to increase customer lifetime value, and how to improve the customer onboarding process. With these tips, you should be able to boost your client satisfaction and customer retention. Proper onboarding can also teach companies how to improve customer lifetime value.
Customer vs Employee Onboarding
Customers, much like new hires, require orientation to the company and its operations. For employees, orientation is part of the onboarding process. It allows people to get to know the ins and outs of the company and its operations. While customer onboarding and orientation are similar, the difference lies in the purpose, since clients want to feel that the company is addressing their needs.
In this sense, it is a continuation of the sales process, extending beyond the lead capture phase. The other difference is that employees need to be taught to be self-sufficient to serve the company. With customer onboarding, you are instilling faith that you can serve the customer.
Customer satisfaction is an important focus for marketers because, in this day and age, a dissatisfied customer can be a thorn in your side. Bad reviews and word of mouth can tank your reputation, so it’s essential that marketers know what the main trepidations, complaints, and impressions of their product are. These should all be countered throughout the sales process and down to the onboarding.
Preparations for customer onboarding need to be made during the sales process as you anticipate the signup. At this point, you need to further reinforce the values of your brand and product.
Building a Customer Onboarding Strategy
The key thing to note is that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for every company. Therefore, this section will focus on best practices, crucial indicators, and strategy evaluation tools you can use to craft your workflow.
Crucial Customer Onboarding Metrics
One of the ways to keep track of onboarding is with user activity. You need to measure where it rises and falls using daily and monthly active users. While daily users are a good measure, they may not apply to certain products that have more periodic usage. In those cases, it is more useful to use monthly users.
Primarily, you need to check engagement rates along with which features are not being engaged. This will give you an idea of what use your customers think your product has compared with its intended use. This can be a great place for creating walkthroughs, tutorials, customer service media, and other helpful materials.
Another set of customer onboarding analytics worth checking is the CTR, exit rate, and bounce rate. With these, you can tell how far down the funnel your product gets before potential customers turn away. These are issues you would want to refine for proper lead generation and onboarding.
CTR (along with time on page) can tell you what pages, tutorials, or features interest customers the most, while exit rate and bounce rate indicate where they leave the session (for a more thorough analysis of how to interpret these metrics, check this article).
For a website service, it can be crucial to understand unique vs returning visitors. Having returning visitors is a great sign that you’re product is snaring in return customers. Similarly, unique visitor stats can tell you how well you’re attracting new people. If this number is a lot higher than returning visitors, you may not be converting them through the funnel.
Customer Retention Analysis
Proper customer retention analytics requires a few key metrics that were covered in the previous section. Most notably, retention analyses require an understanding of where customers bounce and exit, where they click, what queries they have, and why they opt for competitors instead of your product. The first step is the numeric analysis of these engagement metrics.
Once you’ve identified where customers churn, you need to identify why. This can lie in a number of areas, so it’s best to ask the obvious question: “are you attracting the right customers?”. Look through your data and see if you’re attracting the target group you should be chasing. It would help to have an in-depth buyer persona ready.
If you’re positioning and targeting are correct, you may want to find the flaw in your funnel approach. Identify what your desired group wants that would keep them returning, how best to communicate your USPs, and whether you have the right marketing channels. Then, you can further adjust your marketing variables, content, channels, and campaigns accordingly.
The problem can also lie externally. Perhaps customers leave for a competitor. It’s best to identify where customers are leaving to. Perform competitor analyses and refine your approach. You can also check your SEO rankings, what keywords they use, and their ad spending to identify which areas they are beating you in.
Customer Churn Prevention & Prediction
As covered in the retention analysis, for proper customer churn prediction and prevention, you need to understand a few crucial points:
- Why customers don’t return.
- When customers are more likely to leave.
- Identify customer retention costs and benefits.
- How to improve your retention strategies.
Customer churn analytics can lead you to a bunch of conclusions about how to retain your customers. Here are a few strategies you can implement:
- Quality vs Quantity: Depending on your situation, you may want to try and decrease or increase client focus. This will affect the time and dedication your team spends on courting and onboarding clients, but it can help cast either a wide net or a narrow, high-quality scope. This is most useful for situations where the problem lies in targeting the right people.
- Style of Communication: Are users confused by your service? You need to decide whether customers need better tutorial materials, hands-on support, or changes to your website UX. Check what pain points your customers have and address them with the right mode of communication.
- Customer Value: If customers are fleeing to another competitor, you need to adjust your operations. Provide more customer value by giving out deals or adjusting prices. If someone else is providing better value, it’s your job to one-up them.
- Build Incentive Structures: Consider gamifying your website or app. Add reminders and rewards for better engagement, if applicable. You can also create social elements like profiles, cross-communication, and the opportunity to win discounts.
Customer Onboarding Best Practices
The process of onboarding can be different for each company. However, the golden rule for all customer satisfaction is “know your customer“. This includes:
- Who they are (job, background, specific characteristics)
- What they want (their needs, what they expect from a product etc.)
- What pain they’re experiencing that your product solves (why your product and not another)
- What tasks do they need to complete (what they will gain, efficiency, etc.)
- What would stop them from using your product (make-or-break qualities)
- The reason why any users who churn end up churning
These are essential knowledge points for any client onboarding specialist. With this base knowledge, you can build your onboarding process best suited to your product or service.
Another key rule for proper onboarding is decreasing barriers to customer engagement with the product. This can be done in a few ways such as employing an easy trial for your product, easy signups, easier payment options, and greater accessibility to customer support.
Similarly, giving customers as many options as possible is a great way to gain their favour. These include extensive payment options, availability on multiple devices, multichannel marketing, and extensive ways to get product support (email, phone lines, YouTube videos, etc.). Remember: Communication is key.
There are a number of tools that can help with this.
Have client onboarding courses for your employees. These can be available resources but also actual training programs you implement. Having set guidelines for an onboarding specialist to follow is a great way to ensure consistency.
There are several tools that, together, can help you create an automated onboarding process. Chatbots can go a long way in automating queries and customer outreach. Similarly, it may also be handy to create a client onboarding questionnaire to directly ask how the client wishes to be served. Include everything you would need to know to serve them and understand their communication style.
An email notification system, a proper contact page, and a customer service line are also great tools to keep customers in the loop.
Top Customer Onboarding Software
Customer onboarding apps and programs allow users to deliver customer value through walkthroughs, communication, and tutorials. Here’s a brief overview of some of the most popular customer onboarding software programs and their biggest advantages.
- Inline Manual
- No coding required
- It also offers handy target segmentation-based messaging using common characteristics
- Topic launchers and HotSpots are very useful communication tools
- Primarily employee onboarding program as well
- Great analytics package
- Intelligent and customizable workflow that provides many insights
- Far more interactive, offering clickthrough guides
- Easy to use
- No installation or plug-ins required (on-site widgets)
- E-commerce optimization features are handy
- High customizability with useful multichannel features
- Demand generation
- Intuitive A/B testing flows
- Personalizing user experiences
- Fully customizable UI