Some people think the most important moment in the customer relationship is when they make the initial decision to purchase. But the period after the purchase, the onboarding phase, is what really establishes the customer relationship. What your organization does next could mean the difference between having a life-long customer or another churn statistic.
The onboarding stage is critical for retention because it’s when customers first experience your product. The customer quickly learns if it lives up to your brand’s promises and their expectations— and you can bet they’ll form an opinion quickly! That’s why you must help them learn to use all of your product’s features in a way that supports their business goals. It’s also when the customer starts interacting with your team regularly, so it’s crucial that you make a good first impression and help them realize value sooner rather than later.
If you’re finding kinks in the process, consider whether your company is struggling with some of the most common customer onboarding challenges. Then, you can take action to optimize this all-important phase of the customer journey.
The Top Five Customer Onboarding Challenges
Poor onboarding creates unhappy, frustrated customers who are unlikely to renew. These customers may even tell others about their disappointing experience, spreading bad word-of-mouth about your brand. If your business has run into such negative situations, it’s time to assess what customer onboarding challenges may be holding your brand back.
Here are the top six onboarding challenges you may be facing:
- You don’t know when customers are struggling. When you have limited visibility of the customer journey, it’s difficult to track or manage a customer’s progress. And if you can’t identify when a customer is having trouble, you can’t take proactive action to help them.
- Customers aren’t receiving sufficient training. If a customer does not receive proper education on how to use every feature, they may not fully understand the product. This leads to features being underutilized. As such, the customer may never really get the value they want.
- Onboarding takes too long. Customers want a quick time to value. If onboarding drags on and customers aren’t getting the support they need, chances are they’ll give up. Remember, onboarding is complete once the customer can use the product independently, and customers will become unhappy if they feel this is taking too long.
- Goals are unclear. What’s the goal of onboarding? It’s whatever goal your client hopes to achieve by using your product and working with your team. Onboarding is about welcoming a new customer to your brand, establishing a good relationship with them, and helping them understand the product so they can see the value of their purchase. Each customer may have a unique purpose for your product, so you’ll need to understand each customer’s specific goals and tailor the onboarding process accordingly.
- There are too many roadblocks and silos in your process. All your internal teams must have seamless communication with each other, as well as access to each customer’s history. By sharing internal notes and data between all teams, customers can enjoy a fluid progression throughout their journey.
If any of these problems sound familiar, they may be why customers are not renewing or are even churning. So, now that you know what the problem is, what can you do about it?
Best Practices to Combat Customer Onboarding Challenge
Ready to improve the onboarding experience? Here are some best practices to help you deliver the onboarding experience customers want:
- Align your organization’s goals with your customers’ goals. When you adopt customers’ goals as your own, you become a true stakeholder in their success. This means understanding exactly what your customer hopes to achieve, measuring progress as customers pursue their goals, and providing ongoing engagements to help them reach their goals. Then, make sure all team members throughout your organization have also aligned their goals with those of their customers.
- Get organized. When multiple team members work on the same account, it can be hard to organize a concerted effort. Make sure each account is assigned to the project manager who is ultimately responsible for the success of a customer. While everyone should have visibility of all customer histories, you should maintain a single point of contact per customer.
- Standardize the onboarding process. Prepare all team members for success, not just individuals. One way to do so would be to create a standardized engagement plan for common scenarios, such as a client who hasn’t started onboarding or one that has added new team members. Gathering customer feedback can be a great way to learn about ways to improve your onboarding process.
- Clarify communication. Have sales teams communicate all the information they’ve learned about a customer during the sales process to the customer success team. That way, your customer success team won’t have to struggle to learn a customer’s goals, as sales will have already informed them.
- Visibility into customer status. You need to know how customers are doing throughout the onboarding process. Check to make sure they have logged in since onboarding started and get them using the product regularly. Monitor the features they are using, and not using—are they struggling with a particular feature?
- Meet milestones within the agreed timeframe. It is important to set a few milestones throughout onboarding. One should be internal and focused on moving your customers through the onboarding phase and into adoption. The other milestones should be based on your customer. These customer-based milestones might include finishing training for a certain feature or completing the entire onboarding phase. When they reach that step, be sure to follow up and send a congratulatory message. By reaching these milestones, you will help your customers adopt your product successfully so that they can focus on reaching their business goals and feel supported throughout the journey.
Implementing these steps will go a long way towards improving the onboarding experience. But there’s one other piece to consider: software that can streamline the process even more.
Using Software to Overcome Customer Onboarding Challenges
When approaching customer onboarding challenges, you should always keep your customers’ goals in mind. And the best way to do this while staying organized is to use a customer success platform.
By using a customer success platform, your business can increase visibility, easily gather and share customer data across teams, and track customer progress in a centralized location. Plus, you can reduce the length of onboarding with the help of the right software. And the shorter the onboarding period is, the sooner customers can see the value of their investment.
So, don’t let common onboarding roadblocks stop you from retaining valued customers. Deliver outstanding onboarding experiences using a customer success platform and leave a great impression on customers for years to come.
Totango has all the tools and functionality you need to take a goal-oriented approach in solving customer onboarding challenges. Request a demo or explore Spark to learn how Totango can help you provide engaging onboarding experiences to every new customer.