Why you need to nail your customer onboarding process

Customer onboarding is one of the most crucial aspects of your Go-to-Market strategy post-launch, but the process starts far earlier than you may think.

Starting early and taking a cross-functional approach to your customer onboarding could be the most significant difference between a product that succeeds in the market for a prolonged period of time and a product that falls off the face of the industry within weeks of launching.

Today, we’ll be taking you through:

Let’s get into it. 👇

What does a customer onboarding strategy look like?

Customer onboarding teaches your customers and users how to make the most out of your product. It turns a sale into the customer’s product adoption, significantly mitigating customer churn.

Not understanding how to use a product or how it brings value to the customer is the leading reason for churn, so it’s super important to educate your users on the benefits a product will bring them.

Your guide to customer activation
Understanding the value of your customer lifecycle is crucial to getting your go-to-market strategy right. As with most things inherent to GTM, your customers’ journeys will look different case by case. Read on to learn about customer activation, best practices, and mistakes to avoid.

Onboarding processes can take the form of step-by-step tutorials, video tours of a product, setup wizards, or info pop-ups that appear when a customer uses a new part of your product for the first time.

1. Give your customers a proper introduction

Imagine you’re playing a new video game for the first time. When you first start, you won’t automatically know which controls do what, what your objectives are, how to improve your character in the game, or how you’ll win.

Without instructions, you’ll give up fairly early and return to what’s familiar. The customer onboarding process is very similar. 

If you’re introducing a customer to a new product, they probably won’t know where to start. So, just as you’d expect in a video game, the first step is a welcome message to introduce the customer to the product. This should be followed by a walk-through of the product, where they can explore the features available and practice using them so they can feel comfortable doing so on their own.

2. Walk customers through more complex features

Unlike a video game, you probably won’t teach them ‘press X to use your weapon’, but the basic premise is the same. As time goes on, you can take them through more complex features and build on their knowledge.

Point is, customer onboarding is a journey. You’ll want to have resources available to customers at any stage. 

And you also need to consider that users will want to learn more over time or train other team members. A good way around this is to have a knowledge base on your site that users can refer back to as and when they need it. This empowers your customers to educate themselves, which they may prefer further down the line.

3. Celebrate customer milestones

And finally, you’ll want to celebrate customer milestones. 

When they learn how to use a new feature or complete a significant task, congratulate them. This can be with a pop-up message, an Asana-style rainbow unicorn zooming across the screen, or the classic XP boost.

However, there’s a lot more to your customer onboarding strategy than the format in which information is shared with them. A high-quality customer onboarding strategy requires time, research, and dedication.

How to build a customer onboarding strategy

Customer onboarding is all about making sure your customer is happy and confident using your product, but your strategy goes far beyond the actual teaching process. 

You need to be tactile about knowing what your customers want, how to deliver, and how to keep them coming back to your products.

You achieve this by creating a solid relationship with your customers.

Your strategy needs to start early so that you’re ready to pick up where sales have left off. Before you interact with your customers, there’s a lot of prep to do because you need to make an impression. Every customer interaction needs to feel unique and valuable to that customer, or you’ll struggle to generate loyalty to your products.

So, let’s break down the steps to creating a customer onboarding strategy that’ll keep them coming back: 

  1. Your first step should be to really understand your customer personas. For each customer, you should know what problem they’re looking to solve with your product, what their pain points are, and what they want to achieve through the use of your product.
  2. You’ll also want to set realistic expectations for the customer of what the product can do and where you’re still ironing out the kinks. This is to mitigate disappointment or frustration if you hit bumps in the road. 
  3. Write a plan for the training, how you expect it to go, and what the customer should get from it. By sharing this with customers at the start, you can ensure everyone is on the same page and has clarity on what they want to achieve.
  4. Always aim to build customer loyalty. If you’ve proven yourself honest and able to recognize flaws, your customers are more likely to find you reliable and want to continue partnering with you.
The role of customer personas in a winning GTM strategy
If you hope to sell your product, you need to intimately understand your target customer and market. That’s where personas come in. In this article, we’ll explore why personas matter for GTM and how to leverage them for success.

Once you’ve got the strategy down, consider these tips for onboarding best practices:

  • Keep up regular communication with customers. Set a frequency for how often you contact them and stick to it. That way, you can keep your customers engaged and identify and resolve problems early.
  • Orientate your goals around your customers. The customer journey and experience should always be the priority, and any other objectives should be derived from that.
  • Measure your success. If you want to improve, you need to know what you’re doing well and where you’re falling short. The best way to do this is by establishing a customer feedback loop and reviewing your practices.
  • Use software like Asana or Jira to create an onboarding tasks template you can repeat each time you restart the process and ensure nothing gets missed.

Cross-functional customer onboarding strategies

Cross-functional working transforms customer onboarding from a process to a strategy. This is key to Go-to-Market as a whole, but it makes a real difference in maintaining and growing your customer base.

The marketing and sales processes should be used to gather data about your buyers. These teams can find out why customers are interested in your products, how they want to use them, and what they want to get out of them. You can also spot concerns early and use the onboarding process to resolve them.

How can sales enablement improve your Go-to-Market strategy?
Sales enablement is a relatively new function in B2B businesses, and it holds a lot of potential for your Go-to-Market strategy. Sales enablement is heavily associated with onboarding, but these multifaceted teams also support sales kick-offs, content creation and cross-functional collaboration.

If you have an in-depth handover from sales to customer success, you’ll go into meetings with customers knowing exactly what you need to focus on to keep them engaged. Tailor the process to the information you’ve garnered through the sales process and offer your customers a unique experience that makes them feel valued.

Working cross-functionally is the best way to provide your customers with a seamless journey and build a partnership with them with real, tangible longevity.

What value does customer onboarding bring to your Go-to-Market strategy?

As we said at the start, customer onboarding can make or break your product’s success. Without it, you’ll experience significant customer churn and your product's life will be very short-lived.

If you’ve spent months on your Go-to-Market strategy, don’t want to waste that by ignoring your customers and losing them. 

If your customer onboarding is successful, you’ll make your product irreplaceable.

Customer onboarding is also key to your company's overall growth and lifespan. With a regular pattern of engagement and an established feedback loop, you can continue to improve your service for your customers and build and advise them on innovations relevant to their desired outcomes.

The onboarding process increases the customer lifetime value, which is absolutely essential for the success of your company. The majority of revenue comes from existing, not new, customers. So the longer you can keep customers around, the more revenue you’ll make.

The most essential Go-to-Market metrics and how to track them
Any product launch depends on whether your teams can come together and establish where there’s space to improve. The best way to gauge if your teams are on track? Looking at the right metrics. In this article, we go through some of GTM’s essential metrics and why they matter when making decisions.

What’s more, if you have loyal and happy customers, they’ll do your marketing for you. These customers will become your best resource for referrals, but only if you put in the work first.

The bottom line is exceptional customer onboarding = exponential growth. So make sure you get it right.