Onboarding is an exciting, critical phase of introductions and potential. It defines how you and your customer communicate, establish common goals, and begin the customer journey.
Above all, it is an educational process. You want to teach your customers how to integrate your product into their daily workflows as quickly and thoroughly as possible. This is your opportunity to prove your product is the best solution for meeting their business goals. By implementing customer education best practices that drive the onboarding process, you will set your customers—and your enterprise— up for success.
Why Onboarding Matters
Onboarding is your customer’s first experience with you and your product. A good first impression is integral to establishing trust in your team and confidence in your product’s ability to deliver value.
During this phase, the customer must become comfortable enough with your product to use it on their own to achieve their business goals. A customer cannot achieve value from a product they do not know how to use. The frustration that flows from a poorly executed or prolonged onboarding phase can quickly deteriorate to churn. Today’s digital marketplace, with its flexible subscription models and highly customizable solutions, has empowered customers to shop around until they find a service that meets their unique requirements.
Onboarding is your chance to prove that your product will meet your customer’s needs, both today and into the future. This is done by educating your customers on all the features and capabilities of your product.
The Top 5 Customer Education Best Practices for Onboarding
Customers can feel the benefits of a smooth onboarding process. It takes them on a logical progression from basic product understanding to expert product implementation.
The customer education best practices that can deliver this rapid independence are:
1. Standardized Practices
Every member of your enterprise needs to understand your customer education best practices. All the relevant product information needs to be contained within an easy-to-follow set of modules that build from basic user interface controls to comprehensive business solutions.
Your onboarding process needs to be repeatable, logical, and linear, so standardized processes are essential. Encourage customers to trust you by showing you have a plan in place for their development.
2. Rapid Product Integration
The onboarding phase lasts until the customer can independently integrate your product into their daily workflows. Your onboarding program should, therefore, focus on preparing your customer to use your product in their daily reality. There should be clear timelines for customer progression and standardized campaigns for clearing bottlenecks and mitigating common challenges.
The sooner your customer begins to experience value from your product, the sooner you can begin building the foundation for a long-term partnership. And in this customer-centered economy, retention is critical.
3. Comprehensive Training on Product Features
Your product is defined by its unique features. They are the practical tools a customer uses to meet their business goals. A comprehensive onboarding process should include a definition and working example of how each feature functions, how it is relevant to the customer, and how it can be automated to scale.
Since customers expect a product that reflects their needs, you have to demonstrate a direct connection between your offerings and their goals. Use your thorough understanding of the customer to prioritize features on a case-by-case basis. It helps to gather customer data into a central shared hub available across your enterprise. This way, every member can provide the personalized engagements your customers need.
4. Proactively Engage Your Customer
If your customer information has been properly stored and analyzed, you should be able to predict the progress of your customers and provide proactive engagements throughout the onboarding phase. If you see, say, that a customer is not using a certain key feature, you can quickly launch a personalized campaign. It may be as simple as reaching out and saying, “We noticed you may have hit a snag in getting started; how can we help you get back on track?”
By reaching out before the customer contacts you about the problem, you can solve issues for them quickly and create a relationship of trust and dependability as a company.
5. Always Strive to Improve
Onboarding a new customer is a great opportunity to grow and improve your systems. Listen to customer feedback and use it to optimize your standard processes and incorporate into your product. Should a customer, for example, tell you they have trouble locating a certain feature, they may have highlighted a problem other customers have experienced. Maybe you need to explain that feature better, or maybe the feature itself could use some tweaking.
Your customers are unrivaled experts in their own needs. Listen to them and they’ll tell you how to better meet those needs and grow your relationship.
Use Software to Optimize Onboarding
Implementing these customer education best practices is infinitely easier if you use the right tools. For instance, a customer success platform provides a shared repository of every customer interaction with a member of your organization. It can be organized across segments to provide actionable insights into the customer experience and goal-oriented thresholds for engagement. These thresholds can be linked to triggers that notify team members, so you will know right away if a customer is struggling. The best software will help your team follow proven best practices to guide customers through the crucial onboarding stage.
Remember, your customers need to be able to use your product independently before they can experience the value that leads to a mutually beneficial long-term relationship. As such, customer education is the process of teaching your customers to help themselves.
Totango offers a customer success platform that helps you make the most of the onboarding stage and entire customer journey. If you explore Spark, you’ll find a customizable, comprehensive platform that lets you monitor every step of customer onboarding. Request a demo today to get your customer relationship started the right way.