Made a sale? Wondering if it is the time to party yet? Not really! Sales is incomplete until the client onboarding process is successfully undertaken.
What is client onboarding? Client onboarding process can be defined as the first step in the customer’s journey.
It is this step that decides your future with a customer and what they talk about you to others. In many ways, a good customer onboarding experience positively impacts your company’s reputation and brand value.
Client onboarding or customer onboarding is the process of enabling and setting up services for the client. It is the experience a new buyer has soon after signing the contract and making a purchase.
This term is often used in reference to software products. A deal is not successful until the client is onboarded. Onboarding is the root of any customer relationship. How deep and strong these roots become will determine how long this business relationship will go.
The goal of a client or customer onboarding is to get the client to understand the key principles of the product and to show them how it will improve their life.
If it can make the point of the product clear the first time the client tries it, there is a better chance of engaging and retaining them. But remember, customer onboarding is not only about training the customer about the product but also meeting customer needs and making the customer realise the same.
Customer onboarding is creating/setting/modifying a service or product according to the client’s needs and providing them the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours to use it.
It is vital to have a set, repeatable client onboarding process in place. It is recommended to have a set process though the approach towards completing that process may vary depending on the scenario and customer requirement.
Every practice has its own unique onboarding process that depends on a variety of factors like internal capabilities, services offered, personas, strategy followed and so on.
Having a kick off meeting for introductions, setting expectations and discussing the next steps.
Having regular communication to clarify doubts, seek data and give progress updates.
Setting up the product/service as per customer’s requirements.
Should be introduced to the client.
Will act as the face and voice of the company.
Should be proactive in addressing customer queries and seeking data.
Should be well versed with the service/product being offered.
Should be able to meet customer’s requirements.
Should be able to explain the delivered solution.
Gaining trust: A smooth onboarding experience builds customer’s trust in you & confidence in your expertise, product/service.
A smooth onboarding experience gives the service provider the leverage of seeking time if required for bug fixes and feature deliveries.
Retention: Onboarding is a tricky and bulky step both for the customer and service provider. Passing it hassle free proves you reliable hence reducing the risk of churn because of customer dissatisfaction. A major part of the company’s future revenue will come from its existing customers. So customer retention is very important.
Preventing the efforts from getting wasted: When you lose a client it means that all the time spent on drafting proposals, interacting with them and enabling services goes in vain.
Referrals: Word of mouth is the best source of lead. Ensuring smooth onboarding can give hot leads, which will require lesser effort for conversion.
Building reputation: Client onboarding is when the customer has the highest expectation from their vendor. Not meeting this expectation can frustrate the customer giving a reason for them to give bad reviews and comments on social media platforms.
Upsell and cross sell: Smooth onboarding enhances your chance of doing more business with the same customer with lesser effort and time.
Understanding client’s requirements:
Be sure of the customer’s industry, business process, persona, pain points and needs. The most important point of a successful delivery is knowing who you are providing service to, why and how it is going to add value to the customer.
Without knowing the pain, a solution cannot be provided - this holds true for any industry.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Customers are happy when you show interest in their business.
Not all businesses work in the same fashion so there is no common process followed. Presuming a customer’s business process might lead to understanding the requirement wrong and hence not being able to deliver the required solution.
Documenting the expected outcome: So that you are sure on what to deliver and the customer knows what they are going to get it is important to document the same. Both the parties are in sync this way and there are no last minute surprises.
Having regular communication with the client:
Giving regular progress updates, asking relevant questions and requesting for information gives the client the satisfaction and trust that you are working for them and are putting efforts. Even the client comes to know what data needs to be kept handy.
This ensures that the onboarding happens smoothly and completely and nothing is kept pending.
Being available to entertain customer queries makes you reliable.
Just delivering is not enough. If the client is not completely aware of what solution has been provided and how to use it, then the provided solution will always be undermined.
So it’s equally important to showcase the solution provided and how to put it into use.
It’s important not to relax immediately after signing up a new client. Never let you guard down until you have satisfied your client.
The customer onboarding process can take some trial and error to perfect.
Keep developing your client onboarding process and figure out what works and doesn’t work. Make sure you are constantly improving this process for your customers and keeping their needs first.