Article by: Donna Weber, author of Onboarding Matters: How Successful Companies Transform New Customers Into Loyal Champions
Are you stuck in silos? You probably think about silos as divisions between different teams within your company. But what about the divisions between your customers? When you separate what happens between customers during the most important part of the customer journey, you miss critical trends and insights, reducing your impact on your company and your customers.
A silo is a unit that interacts poorly with other units, negatively affecting overall performance. Consider customer onboarding software to break down silos at your company. It’s a powerful tool to reduce the repetitive administrative tasks your teams are stuck with, keeps customers accountable and engaged, and provides valuable insights to you and your leaders.
Onboarding software is good for your customers.
Our brains are biologically wired to resist what’s new and unfamiliar. It’s the key to our survival, but often it creates additional stress. During onboarding, your customers are overwhelmed. In addition to everything else happening at their companies and personal lives, they are attempting to deploy and adopt your product. There is data to migrate, systems to integrate, and code to configure. Task lists, timelines, and technical requirements flood their neural networks, and they withdraw.
In our lives as consumers, transparency and accountability are key. When you order items on Amazon, you receive order confirmation emails, shipping details, and a tracking number to observe every step of the shipping journey. Ordering a pizza includes texts to tell you when pepperoni is deployed, the moment your tailored pizza goes into the wood-fired oven, and the arrival time to ensure your table is set and you are prepared to relish your pizza the instant it arrives. You can relax knowing where your order is on the journey and when you will obtain value from your purchase.
It’s the same with business-to-business software. One way to increase customer confidence is to provide transparency at the beginning: Show the path ahead and the customer’s part in it. That’s where onboarding software excels. It’s designed to engage customers during onboarding by assigning tasks to individuals, displaying timelines and dependencies, and improving communications with chat and documents. As a result, onboarding progresses smoothly and on time. The more transparent and aligned you are with customers, the more they trust you and engage throughout the onboarding journey and beyond.
Onboarding software is good for your company.
Onboarding software is good for your business, too. It increases customer renewals and provides much-needed visibility for you and your teams during the most important part of the customer journey. When your Customer Onboarding team manages complex implementations and onboarding processes in project plans—or even worse—spreadsheets, you likely find customers ghosting you. They don’t show up for meetings and they don’t do what’s needed. Consequently, onboarding takes longer than expected; customers don’t obtain value from your product and are more likely to churn.
As a leader, you probably don’t know what’s happening along the onboarding journey. Your teams might manage the experience within each account and the specific activities to be completed, but you are stuck in a siloed perspective. Onboarding software tools provide a holistic view. Each person on the team sees all their accounts in play. And you easily grasp the big picture of all customers working through onboarding at any given time. As a result, you know what’s working and where improvements are needed.
Let’s say you use the six stages of my Orchestrated Onboarding™ framework. You would quickly see how many accounts you have in each stage: Embark, Handoff, Kickoff, Adopt, Review, and Expand, and know how long each stage takes on average. You might find when customers work with specific onboarding team members they move more quickly or slowly. Next, explore the details to improve the process for everyone. Maybe Frederick takes a long time to get through the Handoff stage, but their customers adopt the product more quickly. On the other hand, Nina finishes the onboarding process faster than everyone else on the team, but their accounts don’t grow as much. These are the intricacies of onboarding you need to know so you drive customers to value and you keep your backlog from growing.
A word of warning.
Don’t assume onboarding software is the answer to all your onboarding challenges. Companies that rush to apply technology may end up ripping it out because it didn’t align with their requirements or they didn’t know what they needed in the first place. That’s why starting new approaches with the right people to do the job is appropriate. That way, you create consistent, repeatable processes that deliver the results needed for both your customers and your company. I like to start with a manual approach because it’s easier to deploy the onboarding software and faster to fine-tune. Once your processes are defined, documented, and proven, then technology can help you scale.
Here’s an example using my popular Orchestrated Onboarding™ Masterclass. Let’s start with the people involved—that would be me. I manage the marketing, selling, administration, and delivery. Next, I created repeatable processes to market classes, register participants, send confirmation emails, build the course resource sites, and send course certificates. I managed my Masterclass on spreadsheets and through my website. Doing the manual processes helped me fully appreciate every step in the process. After several classes, I realized the manual approach took too much time; I needed to scale. Since I was familiar with the manual approach, I quickly mapped out a thorough list of my requirements and began searching for a learning management system (LMS). I selected a vendor through research and due diligence and recently implemented the LMS. Now I deliver a better customer experience with less effort.
Is onboarding software right for you?
In conclusion, onboarding software is a valuable tool that reduces repetitive administrative tasks, improves customer onboarding experience, and helps you manage your onboarding process more efficiently. Onboarding software engages customers, provides transparency, and increases customer confidence and trust. It also provides a holistic view of the onboarding journey for your company, allows for better management of account loads, and helps identify areas for improvement.
Before implementing technology, start with people and create consistent, repeatable processes. Using the right approach and tools, you can ensure a seamless onboarding experience for your customers while streamlining the process for your teams and providing invaluable insights to your management. Ultimately, onboarding software can take customer onboarding to the next level and deliver better customer experiences with less effort.
DONNA WEBER is the world’s leading expert in customer onboarding. For over two decades, she has helped high-growth startups and established enterprises turn new and existing customers into loyal champions. Her award-winning book is Onboarding Matters: How Successful Companies Transform New Customers Into Loyal Champions. Learn more at donnaweber.com.