Article by: Donna Weber, author of Onboarding Matters: How Successful Companies Transform New Customers Into Loyal Champions
Are you ghosting your customers? I bet you grumble about how customers ghost you: not showing up for meetings, not responding to calls and messages, and not following through on their tasks for the duration of onboarding and beyond. “Ghosting” describes the practice of not communicating and disappearing without a trace. Customers that don’t materialize when you reach out are a symptom of you ghosting them. Engaging new customers when the deal closes and providing continuity from the buyer journey to the customer journey are the keys to mutually prosperous relationships.
Due to the brain’s inner workings, we dwell in fear and doubt. This is especially prevalent when we begin new or familiar experiences, like making major purchases and implementing new software. When customers don’t encounter a distinct ending to the buying process, their brains quickly fill the vacuum with stories of what happens next: usually worst-case scenarios. They start new relationships with dread rather than assurance.
This is exactly what happened to me when I recently made a major house purchase. Due to impending regulation changes in California, my husband and I went through a frenzied and thorough search for the finest solar panel vendor. After weeks of exhaustive research and analysis (we even created spreadsheets!), we selected a local merchant, signed the contract, and paid the deposit; just in time to meet the approaching deadline. Then we were abandoned. After all that rushing and analyzing and deciding, we were ghosted. With a dearth of details, we waited and wondered and worried. Did we pick the right vendor? Would we meet the deadlines? Did we squander our precious time and money?
This operator could have easily assuaged our neural networks with cognitive closure. Cognitive closure is the stopping mechanism that applies “brakes” to the validating process and allows crystallized judgments to form. Closure stops the uncertainty, confusion, and ambiguity of anticipating the future without clear guidance because it provides definite answers to the questions the brain keeps asking itself.
As the world’s leading expert in Customer Onboarding, I would have cherished a prescriptive onboarding process like my Orchestrated Onboarding framework to satisfy my panicked lizard brain. Your customers will also appreciate clear beginnings, handoffs, kickoffs, milestones, and deliverables that keep them and you on track during the most important part of the customer journey. When customers know what happens next, they relax and trust you.
Below are three ways to stop ghosting your customers with cognitive closure and continuity.
- Send a welcome email. The minute a deal closes, send an automated welcome email thanking the customer and detailing the journey ahead. Let customers know the general timeline for what happens next and who they will work with.
- Provide a visual overview of the journey ahead. Visuals are a great way to calm neural networks and provide an overview of how you will work together to achieve customer outcomes. Showing the journey you are embarking on provides continuity from the buyer journey to the customer journey and instills trust. Keep this information high level, rather than going into the weeds.
- Customer handoff. Stop throwing all the relationship collateral sales reps generate down the drain when you win the deal. Instead, include customer handoffs to formally transition from the established relationship to the post-sales teams customers will interface with moving forward.
Many sales reps worry these details overwhelm customers and will scare them away. They don’t. To help us know we were in good hands, that solar vendor could have sent us an automated welcome email with a visual overview of the process moving forward. Plus, a fifteen-minute call with the sale rep we trusted to introduce the technician and account manager would have made all the difference for my husband and me. It’s that simple. Closure and continuity instill confidence because customers see you know what you’re doing and have done it before.
The choice to churn or renew is determined during onboarding. Ignoring customer needs and concerns, whether conscious or subconscious, leads to negative opinions they will remember – and share with others. Customers who feel ignored or mistreated will pause, cancel payments, and move elsewhere. What sets you apart from your competitors is much more than your product. Rather than letting customers ruminate, determine what you want them to think and feel after they purchase your product. Most likely, you want them to trust they’re in capable hands and to feel confident they made the right decision.
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.