Customer onboarding is supporting a new customer to get started with a new product and helping them understand the product functionality better. Onboarding also positively impacts customer retention through the use of methods of engagement and knowledge sharing at the beginning of their journey with a brand. Online onboarding is mostly through videos, help cues, emails, calls via the customer success/support teams among many other ways. For physical enterprise software or physical products, onboarding may happen through onsite training, if the customer so demands.
What is Onboarding?
Once a prospective buyer makes a purchase, he/she becomes a customer. Soon after, the customer onboarding process begins. Customer onboarding is relevant for all industries and verticals, especially for organizations with SaaS products. Online onboarding software makes delivery of online onboarding programs for SaaS products easier to implement.
This onboarding process is beneficial in many ways – such as it helps a) nurture a new customer b) them learn the nitty-gritties of the product and continue the relation for a long time. Another important aspect of setting-up a great onboarding process is that it creates the WOW factor with the customer. It encourages them to buy more products from the same business (cross-sell and upsell). In upselling, products of high ticket value are pitched to the customer. In cross-sell, related products to the customer’s purchase, are pitched to him/her.
However, why is it continous?
Let’s assume that a technology company sells products A, B and C.
New customer purchases product A, get on-boarded and trained and in 3 months becomes well-versed with the product. As product A get new releases every month, the customer also learns to use the new features and his confidence keeps growing. In a year, he is a fan of the product, not just because the product is great, but also due to the continuous learning support he has received from the company. Now, is the right time to understand if he is open for the products B and/or C (or an upgraded version of product A). Once, he has purchased the new offerings, the onboarding and training process starts again, thereby creating a loop.
So, the use of onboarding in a traditional sense is not true anymore for modern generation products. It is continuous, systematic and goal-oriented. Modern onboarding strategies maintain continuous touch by employing unique messaging strategies at various stages of customer maturity lifecycle. For example, a welcome email to a new customer can be used to give an overview of the product that they have purchased. As the customer gets more matured with the product, the email strategy has to move from overview to specific use cases (use cases that correspond to his business).
Some additional examples are stated below:
- Product Tutorial /Product Manuals: Product tutorials act as a hook for customers to ensure that every sign-up is activated. Companies like Buffer, Mint, and Canva among others, have broken down their product tutorials in simple steps to get the customer feel-at-home with the product.
- Educational emails: Sending product/service/how-tos/newsletters to customers are a way to engage them with the product, and talk about updates that may be relevant to the customer.
- Health-check email/call: Taking feedback is the best way to ensure that you are improving your product/services.
- Product Updates: More and more businesses are creating notification systems inside the product to alert the customers as soon as a new feature change arrives. The goal is two-fold here: firstly, they want the customers to use the new features, and secondly, to avoid customers getting confused and worried about major changes in the product.
- Knowledge Communities: Very frequently visible with large scale product companies such as Microsoft, their help centers allow full-fledged discussion forums for users who have highly-specific queries. The communities are visited by peers and moderated by Microsoft teams.
Potentials Need Constant Product Connect and Customers Need Continuous Onboarding
After every product purchase, the organization is bound to provide new information related to the product and keep the customer engaged. These marketing messages (such as Demos, Emails, Product Manuals, and Guides) are used throughout a customer’s journey with the organization.
Let us go through the diagram below, understand where these channels of information are used in the customer journey. These messages are ‘customer journey touchpoints’ and tells us what the underlying aim of these messages is:
Potential Customers (Awareness, Consideration Stage): These are the target segments who receive information about the product through PR, TV, Radio, Online Ads over email or phones. Potential buyers often try to find information about the product in social sites, blog and other online sources. Before a purchase, the potential customer may access the website, connect with the call center on his specific concerns, and finally visit the store or the web-shop to make the purchase. A combination of push and pull strategy keeps the potential connected to the product.
Current Customers (New and Repeat) (Purchase, Retention and Advocacy Stage): Once the purchase is completed, the continuous onboarding process (as discussed in this article) kicks-off. Customers are sent Blogs, Newsletters, Loyalty Programs, FAQs and are made a part of the customer community.
New and old customers, receive messages based on the messaging strategy designed by the businesses (some examples discussed above). To keep the onboarding activities running constantly, the messaging strategies are the most important element to focus.
There are some far-reaching effects of a successful customer onboarding such as the impact on customer experience, satisfaction, retention and bottom line. In an article by postfunnel, it is mentioned that 60% customers leave because they do not find any value in the product or they do not know how to use the product. Some statistics claim that by improving customer acquisition by 1%, the organization’ bottom line is raised by 3.3%. Upon an increase of 1% in customer retention there was 7% increase in the bottom line.
Dan Wolchok (HubSpot Product Manager), HubSpot managed to increase retention (and ultimately revenue) in subsequent weeks of the customer journey cycle, by managing to retain customers in the first week of onboarding- which was roughly 2.6 times the 15% retention rate in week one. This was for their product named ‘Sidekick’.
An article by McKinsey and Co. stated that ‘maximizing satisfaction with customer journey raises customer satisfaction by nearly 20% which in turn increases revenue by up to 15 %. Simultaneously there is a decrease in the cost of serving the customers by 20%.
Customer onboarding is important for the organization’s health and wellness- keeping the customer in the know-how of the product purchased has far-reaching consequences. These consquences render the onboarding process continuous, for the sake of the organization.