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Article by: Donna Weber, author of Onboarding Matters: How Successful Companies Transform New Customers Into Loyal Champions

Your customers don’t show up for meetings. They don’t complete their required tasks during onboarding. They don’t respond to your messages and calls. These are common challenges haunting Customer Success and Onboarding teams. So how do you stop customers from ghosting you?

Ghosting is a colloquial term that describes abruptly ending communication and contact with another person without warning or justification. Ghosting is exasperating because the person doing the ghosting disengages completely. Many customer-facing teams are at their wits’ end endeavoring to connect and communicate with customers who ignore them. To ensure customers show up and use your product, take advantage of these four antidotes to ghosting:  onboard earlier, communicate with visuals, employ success plans, and, most importantly, deliver value.

1. Onboard earlier. When companies ask me how to solve issues with onboarding, implementations, and disengaged customers, I tell them to start onboarding earlier. You’ll know you need to start onboarding during the sales cycle when unprepared customers detain onboarding and implementation teams. My Orchestrated Onboarding™ Framework starts with the Embark stage. During the sales cycle, you show new customers the path to success and set expectations early, so they know what’s needed to partner with you. By frontloading onboarding, you don’t catch the people you work with off guard. Instead, they are equipped to roll up their sleeves and take on the tasks to reach success.

2. Use visuals. It sounds simple, but a few basic visuals make a difference when working with customers. Your users are likely overwhelmed in the early days of purchasing a new solution and all it entails for their business. When you throw long task lists and complicated requirements at new customers, they can’t process the information. They go into cognitive overload and shut down, so they stop replying to your messages. That’s where visuals come in. To engage customers, you need to align with how people process information. I’m sure you know that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” That’s because the human brain processes visuals up to 60,000 times faster than text. Research shows that people pay attention, understand what you tell them, and use that information more effectively when you show them images.

Start with basic images that show your journey together, then build on the visuals as the journey advances. In addition, include simple diagrams that illustrate the integrations and connections required to go live with your product. Getting started with the “smart art” features in most presentation applications is easy. You might also check out one of my favorite tools, Canva.

3. Employ success plans. Success plans guarantee smooth onboarding and implementation for both you and your customers. A success plan is a single place to capture customer goals and your plan for reaching them. The plan is a document that includes best practices and quick wins while addressing gaps and risks. Success plans are so important that I use them when working with companies. I capture the roles and responsibilities, address potential risks, define an escalation process, and then act when blockers appear.

Success plans help you gain agreement on the big picture with teams on the customer side before you get stuck in the weeds of configuring, integrating, and customizing. Most importantly, success plans provide a place to address concerns and risks that might throw the project off the rails. Download my Success Plan template to use with new and existing customers.

4. Deliver value. At the end of the day, it’s essential to deliver value to your customers. Value is the importance, worth, or usefulness of something. Just because a company buys your product or goes live doesn’t mean they find it useful. During onboarding, your goal is to deliver value as quickly as possible. Even small, achievable wins to celebrate along the onboarding journey make a difference.

I guarantee you will not experience ghosting when customers gain benefits right away. Every time your customers receive value, they get an endorphin hit. Endorphins are chemicals that help relieve pain or stress and boost happiness, so the higher your customers’ endorphin levels, the more delighted they will be to work with you and use your product. Your customers will show up for meetings and partner with you to be successful. In reality, using your product may not seem all that exciting to customers. But receiving value as quickly as possible is very

It’s time to shift your mindset from meetings, implementations, and going live with your product. Instead, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. When people know the future, they are present for the path forward. They won’t feel defeated when you break down onboarding and implementations into digestible pictures they can relate to. Success plans are key for cooperation and collaboration. And most importantly, you won’t be haunted by ghosting when you deliver value from day one. I can help.

DONNA WEBER is the world’s leading expert in customer onboarding. For more than two decades, she has helped high-growth startups and established enterprises create customers for life. Her award-winning book is Onboarding Matters: How Successful Companies Transform New Customers Into Loyal Champions. Learn more at