“With the shift to a SaaS model, the connection between your customer’s success and YOUR success is much more direct and felt much more quickly.” – Ken Lownie, Ken Lownie Consulting Partners.
Like at the beginning of every relationship, your customers are very needy. They’re easily confused, unsure about the future and generally looking to have their hand held. Customer onboarding plays a key role in easing customer confusion and making customers feel comfortable from day one in the customer lifecycle. As a result, they’re more likely to stick around – which means that you reap a higher lifetime value (LTV) per customer.
Having said this, onboarding challenges have become even more complicated because customers expect an easily customizable, high-quality product with amazing customer service.
Despite proven time-tested practices that exist to improve onboarding, many companies still fall into the same patterns and make the same mistakes. Let’s take a look at six common mistakes to avoid if you want to convert first-time customers into long-term, paying clients.
1.Over-Promising on Product Value
Make sure not to over-promise to customers, especially if you already know that you can’t deliver on these promises. A marketing team can easily fall into the temptation of using adjectives such as “groundbreaking”, “revolutionary”, or “life changing” to help promote a product. However, when a customer tries a product and doesn’t have an exceptional experience, they probably won’t stay onboard for very long.
When choosing promotional vocabulary, make sure messaging stays consistent and accurately reflects the product. Marketing, sales, and customer support teams should speak the same language throughout the customer lifecycle so that clients get a consistent impression of the product.
2. Overwhelming Customers with Too Much Information
Don’t aim to train customers on as many features as possible. Many onboarding programs focus on training users on every product feature. This can leave customers feeling overwhelmed and confused. Instead, implement a program that identifies the most important business objectives that led the customer to purchase a product. Focus on demonstrating how to meet those objectives to showcase product value. Only once the customer understands how to achieve these important goals, is it appropriate for them to start learning about other product features.
3. Neglecting Customer Service
Responsive customer service plays an important role at any point in the customer lifecycle, but especially during the onboarding process. When a customer needs assistance, they expect it right away. A company that responds slowly to customer inquiries will likely lose a lot of business. Clients will move on to another company that responds to their needs immediately. Customer Success Managers should automatically tag new customers as top priorities. Respond to them right away, even when asked “stupid” questions. Respond promptly and proactively get in touch with clients to ensure customer satisfaction and longevity
4. Customers Find Software Too Difficult to Learn
User experience is always crucial, but it’s especially important during onboarding. When a user learns the ins-and-outs of a new software application, they should find it easy to figure out. If customers find it difficult to understand the most important product features, they may give up. If you do offer a complicated product that is difficult to learn, consider integrating an application to help guide users through the application. Online guidance and engagement software provides interactive pop-up instructions and arrows to assist customers as they first start to use your product.
5. Ignoring Analytics on Customer Usage
This starts by collecting data on customer usage of the product. User data allows business to refine their products and provide an onboarding program that better serves customer demands. Make sure to follow-up after onboarding with surveys to get a better understanding of what customers look for in your product.
6. Taking a Step Back after Onboarding is Complete
Once a customer understands how to use the product and usage rates are consistently high, don’t neglect them until renewal time. Make sure your business strategy includes regular touch-points just like your onboarding program. This should involve regular meetings with clear goals, newsletters, online user community resources, quarterly business reviews, surveys, and customer events. A successful post-onboarding plan will continue to build a strong relationship with your customers and identify challenges that aren’t being met.
Onboarding isn’t easy, and no two plans will look exactly the same. Yet all successful onboarding programs feature a consistent drive to discover and deliver on the needs of the customer while remaining honest and committed to customer success. Now, for those readers who have read this until the end, I’d like to share with you a cause that is very close to my heart – an organization that supports people who have been diagnosed with cancer. For over 100 years, the American Cancer Society has been doing great work in the fight against cancer by helping people get well and find cures. If you’re interested, check them out and see how you can help.