If you sell a software product or service, customer onboarding is a key part of your business’s success.
Imagine a typical customer’s experience with software onboarding. Most customers probably start with very little (if any) knowledge of how the software works. If they’re thrown into the deep end straight away, they won’t be able to use the software the way it’s intended and they most likely will not see any value in it.
This scenario too often results in a disappointed, frustrated customer who doesn’t feel like they got what they paid for. As you can probably guess, that’s not the way to build lasting relationships with customers — it’s a recipe for churn.
That’s where customer onboarding comes in. Not just a welcome email and demo video to get the customer started, but a thorough process of educating the customer about how to use the software to its full potential. Putting time, effort, and resources into building a robust customer onboarding program is the best way to give your customers the foundational product knowledge they need.
This guide walks you through everything you need to know to deliver an awesome customer onboarding experience.
Customer onboarding is the process of showing new customers how to use your product. There are many benefits to a fantastic onboarding experience (we’ll get into the specifics below), but in general, customer onboarding helps customers realize the value of the product more quickly.
Obviously, it’s difficult, if not impossible, for a customer to be fully engaged with your product if they don’t know how to use it. Even if they understand how to use it a little bit, they won’t be confident enough in their product knowledge to get the true value. By offering a robust onboarding program, you enable customers to get to the product’s value faster and engage with it fully.
Your strongest source of revenue is your existing customers. As you probably know, it’s also important to attract new customers — but keeping existing customers should take priority. Signing a new customer is expensive, so it’s better to extend a current customer’s lifetime value instead, if possible.
When customers are happy with the product they’re using, they are much more likely to refer people in their network to your company. The better your onboarding program, the faster the customer can start getting the full benefit of the product; the sooner they see the benefit, the sooner they’ll start acting as a word-of-mouth marketer.
A slow, cumbersome customer onboarding process adds to your customer acquisition expenses. By streamlining your onboarding process, you aren’t just giving the customer a better experience — you’re also cutting costs for the business. This is just one example of how the importance of customer onboarding extends to both businesses and their customers.
Building an effective customer onboarding process takes considerable time and effort. Your onboarding process is too important to be rushed. You should stop and consider the best way to approach creating your onboarding program with customer onboarding best practices in mind.
What are customer onboarding best practices? They’re a simple set of tried-and-true guidelines that'll help you create a customer onboarding program that succeeds.
Here are some examples of a few of the most important customer onboarding best practices:
Your customer onboarding program needs to have direction from the very start. There are a lot of ways your business and your customers can benefit from your onboarding program — but rather than try to accomplish everything at once, identify a few key objectives that will have the largest positive impact and focus on impacting those metrics in particular.
On the customer side, you should have a very clear idea of what you want your customers to get out of your onboarding content. What do you want your customers to know after they’ve finished the onboarding process? What do you want them to be better at?
You should begin the onboarding process the moment the customer signs on the dotted line. Deliver clear instructions for how the customer should proceed right away.
For example, you might send a welcome email explaining how to advance through the onboarding process. The sooner you deliver these initial instructions, the better. Get the customer engaged straight away and don’t give them time to second guess their decision.
No one really likes going through onboarding training. Even though the onboarding process is extremely important, the vast majority of people would probably rather be doing something else instead of working through a software training course.
That’s why it’s essential to streamline your customer onboarding process to make it as simple as possible for customers to get through. By providing a smooth experience for the customer, you can make it easier for them to remain engaged with the content from start to finish.
A thorough onboarding program requires a lot of training content. You need to have a plan to keep all that content organized. A great tool for doing this is a learning management system (LMS).
Using a learning management system, you can keep all your customer onboarding content in a single, easily accessible location. Not to mention, you can take advantage of a number of LMS features that make it easier to create and maintain a customer onboarding program — features like learning paths, certifications, quizzes, and extensive customization options.
Keeping your customer onboarding program organized is one of the best things you can do to ensure its success. The best onboarding programs have structure and a clear set of steps to get customers started out on the right foot.
One way to create this structure is to use a customer onboarding template to customize your onboarding process for your customers’ needs. An onboarding template makes it easier to build a consistent experience for your customers that covers all the information they need to know to be successful with your product.
The onboarding template you use should be tailored to the unique needs of your customers and the specific objectives you’ve set for your onboarding program.
A good onboarding process needs to be fully streamlined to be effective. Building a streamlined customer onboarding process isn’t easy, however. You probably know that if you’ve tried. Customer onboarding software, like a learning management system, is a great solution.
The software will play an especially important part in your onboarding program if you need to scale up your onboarding capabilities to meet the needs of a growing customer base. If your company is struggling to manually onboard thousands of customers, onboarding software could be the answer you’re looking for.
You can use customer onboarding software to automate many of the steps of the onboarding process. For example, you can use it to automatically send welcome emails to new clients. Automation can make it much easier to manage onboarding for large volumes of new customers.
You can use the analytics tools that come with a learning management system to track customer engagement. If a customer gets stuck at a certain point in the onboarding process, you need to know so your customer support team can reach out to help. You also need to know if there’s a particular onboarding step that customers are frequently struggling with.
Each of your customers learns differently. It’s very important to use different types of content besides just text, like videos or quizzes, to cater to all different learning styles. Your onboarding program should work for everyone. Onboarding software can support a wide variety of content formats.
Client onboarding software will enable you to deliver an engaging onboarding experience to each individual customer. Every customer can receive a totally unique onboarding experience thanks to the personalization capabilities of learning management systems. Using personalization tokens, you can use data to meet each individual customer's needs with a customized experience.
The way your onboarding program looks and feels has a major effect on the experience customers have. It’s important to design an experience that’s visually consistent with the rest of your brand. Otherwise, it creates a jarring experience for the customer, which is clearly the opposite of what you want. Customer onboarding software allows you to completely customize every aspect of your onboarding program's visual design.