With Valentine’s day behind us, thought we could have a little debrief but shift gears on the topic a bit :)
A great first date is exciting. It's a chance at something new. A chance to start something beautiful.
On the other hand, a bad first date will leave you feeling disappointed, unfulfilled, or actually terrified :). Even if the conversation is going okay, you may feel that things could be headed in the wrong direction.
Whether it's a lack of chemistry, an unreliable partner, or simply a relationship that starts on the wrong foot, the wrong first date can lead to frustration and wasted time or energy.
Well, something similar can happen with new customer relationships when a client onboarding process begins.
A well-executed client onboarding experience can mark the start of a great customer journey with your brand. However, an inferior process can feel like a bad first date to your new customer and set the tone for things to come.
If you're ready to experience only the good "first dates" and improve the experience for your clients to build exceptional long-term relationships, here's how to make the client onboarding process a success every time!
What Is client onboarding?
Clearly, we have to issue a disclaimer. Onboarding isn't "truly" a first date. Nor is it a romantic experience.
However, after a prospect signs the dotted line to become a customer, a properly conducted onboarding process can and should be the start of a beautiful relationship.
Client onboarding is the critical phase for continuing to educate customers about your brand, the benefits of your products or services, and how to fully leverage your solution to meet their business objectives.
It gives them the knowledge and information needed to make the most of your product or service and meet the expectations set during the "courtship" (or sales) process.
Using practical, logical, and individualized digital client onboarding best practices helps "woo" new customers to see value while reducing the potential of an early breakup (a.k.a. churn).
What Does an Inferior Client onboarding Process Look Like?
Established companies likely have a plan for new client onboarding. Even new SaaS start-ups have onboarded at least a few new customers after opening their doors.
If not, you might not have an onboarding strategy conducive to long-term relationships. Here are four characteristics of an inferior onboarding process to improve for increased customer retention.
It's Too Complicated for the Customers
The onboarding experience isn't always easy for new customers to navigate, but it doesn't have to be that way. One of the primary complaints many businesses receive is that the onboarding process is too complicated.
As you may know, complicated relationships rarely work out long-term. So, while your SaaS business might deliver a very complex or sophisticated product, your customers need a clear and simple method of learning how to integrate it into their systems for success.
An over-complicated onboarding experience often includes too many steps, confusing new jargon, or too many onboarding team members to deal with. It has an overwhelming number of details, has too much confusion, and asks too much from the customer before moving on to the next phase.
If onboarding isn't a straightforward process, how can customers expect that using your process will be any easier? If you're losing customers during your onboarding process, it's time to change your primary relationship status from "it's complicated" to something more positive!
Poor Communication During the client onboarding Phase
Poor communication is one of the hallmarks of a bad relationship that isn't going anywhere. New customers need to hear from your customer success team often during onboarding to reassure and guide them through this crucial stage in the new relationship.
If customers aren't complaining, they must be happy, right? False.
Never assume that a new customer is just happy to be there. It's also bad to assume that "no news is good news." Proactive communication throughout the onboarding process — via meetings, emails, online chat tools, and more — helps understand clients’ perspectives, assess and address their needs, and ultimately helps keep them engaged while building good relationships.
In most cases, client onboarding can be accomplished in a short amount of time with the right communication strategy. You can't under-communicate during this important stage!
Assuming "Process" Means "One-Size-Fits-All"
A successful onboarding process should follow a repeatable, streamlined strategy using technology to launch, report on metrics, and reduce potential mistakes.
When onboarding specialists ignore unique customer needs or assume that a template is set in stone for all customers, problems can creep in and disrupt the relationship. Every new customer relationship is unique, and every customer will have different needs, communication styles, requests, and demands.
Responsive service plays a vital role in determining the success of an onboarding process. Unfortunately, after closing the sale, many businesses follow poor onboarding practices simply by failing to address the new customer's most basic and specific needs.
Just like you'd never approach a first date the same way you handled a previous relationship that ended poorly, customization and iteration matter during onboarding.
While a template and established client onboarding guide are ideal, your customer success team must recognize unique customer needs or deliverables promised during the sales stage to adapt the template for better success.
Holding Customers Responsible for Too Much Homework
No one likes too much homework! While onboarding does require customers to actively participate in the process, overloading new customers with too much homework and action items often frustrates customers and prolongs the process.
Your customers may still have "day jobs" (i.e., running their businesses). They usually can't make it their new full-time job to onboard into your SaaS solution.
Many new customers will not continue to use a product or service that's overly complex or too much work to set up in the start-up stages.
Set Expectations Beforehand
Similar to poor communication, setting expectations is an important part of the client onboarding process.
There should be a detailed explanation about what's expected from the customer during onboarding and the timeline for the process.
When expectations are unclear, customers become frustrated and may even abandon the onboarding process altogether - a bad breakup waiting to happen.
Set a timeline and objectives for what customers should expect during onboarding, such as how many meetings or training sessions are required and when they can expect to start using the product.
This helps set clear expectations that both the customer success team and customers can work towards achieving - ensuring a smoother relationship in the long run.
How Can SaaS Companies Avoid Bad Onboarding Experiences?
If any of the issues above sound familiar, it's time to improve your onboarding best practices. Your business needs to enhance the onboarding experience for your new customers, reduce churn, and ultimately help you build more long-term relationships with customers.
Implementing critical best practices and technology components reduces frustration for SaaS companies and customers throughout onboarding.
These improvements can include the following:
- Automation to remove manual processes that leave customers feeling uninformed and reduce missed steps or delays
- Integrations with CRM (customer relationship management) systems to keep customers connected to your business
- AI-driven systems to optimize team efficiency
- Eliminating spreadsheets and opting for client onboarding software
Our experience has shown that 90% of customers hoped for a better onboarding experience after the fact. Unfortunately, 90% of "first dates" are bad for new customers!
It doesn't have to be that way, and Setuply can help.
Improve client onboarding With Setuply for No More Bad First Dates
If your team doesn't have the proper resources to optimize onboarding, they're set up for more bad dates. Setuply delivers the ideal combination of sound strategy and technology to improve client onboarding experiences for SaaS companies and new customers!
Reach out to the Setuply team to learn more about how we can help reduce churn and build better relationships with new customers.