If you offer a great product (which, of course you do!), it makes sense that you’d want to offer an onboarding experience that does your business justice and is every bit as great.
Yet, onboarding is a process in which otherwise solid teams frequently miss the mark.
Whether it’s due to a lack of accountability as to who should handle onboarding or merely a post-sale oversight, onboarding is arguably the most crucial part in the consumer journey and is absolutely essential to nail if you want to offer your users a quality customer experience.
Onboarding entails everything from the moment your customer has agreed (contractually or otherwise) to try your product and continues all the way through their entire journey with your business; with your customer success team hopefully proactively engaging with customers at each and every new update or feature release along the way.
Long story short, onboarding is about eliminating any friction between your (potential) new users and their delighted and ongoing use of the product or service you’re offering.
In this list below, we’ve assembled 5 Best Practices to help your customer support and success teams streamline their onboarding processes and provide your customers the experience they not only require, but deserve.
1. Do Your Discovery
In most cases, getting to know your customer should start well before the first meeting.
Whereas the initial meeting is where you can concretely understand your client’s needs in detail and make an actionable game plan, there is much work to be done preceding this step to ensure as streamlined and personalized of an experience as possible. And, as we’ve noted on our blog before, competition is stiff and customers are expecting this personal touch more than ever.
Pre-signing this could mean a few things. Perhaps its researching the industry and your clients competitors or defining some big-picture campaign goals. Maybe it's estimating timelines or budgets.
One thing is for certain, from your sales team’s initial cold outreach, to research and setting timelines and expectations; doing your due diligence in understanding your customer ensures that you're able to not only understand them, but how to close the deal and provide them a great long term onboarding experience.
2. Practice a Consumer-Centric Approach
I probably don’t have to tell you that when it comes to supporting your customers, one size rarely fits all.
Your client success team should go into every customer interaction (no matter how insignificant it might seem) under the assumption that the customer would be able to sense being spoken to from a script or using the exact same approach you’ve used with your last twenty clients.
At the end of the day, your customers are people, and they expect and deserve to be treated and spoken to as such. This is how you get people across the finish line.
Research your customers, do your discovery, act like a human being, and then tailor your sales and onboarding strategy to their specific needs and personality. Not only will this establish trust early on, but will encourage an open dialogue and healthy long-term partnership.
What specifically defines the "consumer-centric approach" could vary drastically for each client, which is sort of the point.
We've all had clients that require extensive hand-holding every step of the way and alternatively, clients who sign up, get started, and will happily use your product independently for all of time without ever wanting to hear from you again.
Get to know your customer, learn what they want, and communicate with them in a way that meets them where they are.
3. Organization is Key
Customer support and success communications are not something to consider haphazardly, and if you’re not putting in a conscious effort, your team will fall behind and your messaging will fall flat.
The companies currently offering the best in customer experience have one thing in common: they prioritize customer success as a strategy and are consistent in their organization and cadence of communication.
Setting a concrete communication schedule can be helpful for many orgs to ensure you leave no stone unturned in your pre or post-sale onboarding. Organization is also crucial when you consider the significant number of variables involved in speaking to or meeting with a customer:
Are you operating in different time zones?
Do they want unprompted check-ins?
Have you added them to your email or newsletter lists?
Can they reach out to you on social media for support?
These are all factors to consider and establish a protocol to ensure your team is making the most out of your support operations, especially when dealing with first-time customers.
4. Have the Right Tools
If you don’t already have the right people and a game plan in place, then software tools can only go so far.
But if you’re confident in your onboarding strategy and want to stand out among competitors, having the right tech in your back pocket can make a world of difference and is often a factor that can set your customer success or support team apart from the pack.
We've already discussed the discovery and important role of customization when speaking to a customer, but a key component for your onboarding success is also knowing when to automate.
Customer support and success teams regularly get some similar— if not the exact same — questions day in and day out, especially when it comes to the onboarding process. CMS tools that can help seamlessly assist your customers throughout their journey can mean an infinitely more efficient and effective process for both the user and your support team.
Companies that utilize customer onboarding software see an increase in user adoption and retention rates, a decrease in customer support costs, and tend to find it easier to upsell or cross-sell to already existing customers, due to the analytics and insights you can gain from software.
With all of the tasks that your CS team is inevitably dealing with on a daily basis that actually require a personal touch or more strategic communication, it's important to optimize and help fill in the gaps when it makes sense to do so.
Here is a list of some of our favorites:
As the name suggests, Appcues lets you add “cues” or tips and guides to your app to educate new users. The platform, which is mainly focused on the mobile-app space, also lets you create in-app NPS and CSAT surveys to ask customers for feedback on your onboarding process. It's also great for branded onboarding, segmentation, and goal-setting.
Chameleon lets you offer Slack-like user onboarding with contextual messages and guided tours. You can also use a wide range of surveys like CSAT, NPS, and CES within your app to collect customer feedback. It's unique features include custom designs and a wide range of integrations.
CloudApp is a video messaging tool that lets you create prerecorded onboarding videos for your product. You can record both you and your screen when explaining the features of an app to customers. Once recorded, you can share the screenrecording, screenshot, or GIF through any form, such as email, chat, knowledge base, or even in-app.
You can create bite-sized demo videos for individual features or even an hour-long demo video of your product. CloudApp is built for internal communication within teams as well as external communication with customers.
Between its helpful engagement insights, call-to-action options, and easy-sharing, CloudApp is a hit with Customer Success teams and customers alike.
5. Listen to Feedback
Customer feedback is literally a gold mine for not only your customer success team, but for your product, marketing, sales, (just to name a few) and the overall success of your business. You'd be surprised at how much you could learn (and improve) in your onboarding by just straight up asking the client what they need.
You should be requesting feedback from your clients early and often through your relationship, beginning with the onboarding process.
Instead of trying to read minds or playing guessing games, directly ask your customers for feedback on your approach, service, and partnership. Questions like: are you finding the onboarding process intuitive? How is our current communication schedule? Are we helping you meet your business goals?
It's also important to note that feedback can be a two-way street. If it's helpful for your professional relationship, give your customer feedback as needed to ensure expectations are appropriately set and that communication is honest and open, setting you up for long-term success. It's important that both sides are agreeing on mutual deliverables and meeting their objectives. Just listen.
The world of customer success and support, and thereby, onboarding, is changing rapidly.
Customers more than ever expect a seamless experience, fast reply times, and personalization in each and every interaction with your CS teams.
While this list is in no way exhaustive, it can be a great starting point in putting together a checklist of ways to improve your onboarding experience for your valued customers.
And we're obviously biased, but as a quick reminder: CloudApp is a top-notch customer support tool. With it, you'll be able to communicate with your customers quicker and more effectively throughout onboarding.
Download today for free to see why businesses all over are revolutionizing their communications and making customers happier with CloudApp.