How to Get Your Customer Onboarding Right

How to Get Customer Onboarding

Ranee ZhangDec 29, 20225 mins
What Is Customer Onboarding

Client onboarding is an essential part of any business relationship. It's an opportunity to build trust and a long-term relationship with a new client.

The best client onboarding process will vary depending on the type of business. Still, there are universal steps every company should take to ensure their clients have a great experience right off the bat.

But before we get into the nitty-gritty, it's worth noting:

  • Up to 60 percent of "free trial product" users never return after their trial period.

  • The cost of onboarding a client is significantly less than the cost of acquiring a new client.

So, what can you do to prevent your customers from churning? And how can you make sure they stick around for the long haul? This is where the customer onboarding process comes in.

In this guide, we'll cover the following:

  • The basics of customer onboarding, including why it's so important

  • The process of customer onboarding (with examples)

  • Some templates for your customer onboarding process

  • Some best practices that will help you stand out from your competition.

With our help, you'll be able to create a customer onboarding process that will give you the best possible chance of retaining new customers and growing your business. Let's get started.

What Is Customer Onboarding

Customer onboarding is welcoming new customers and helping them get started with your product or service.

The goal is to provide an experience that makes users confident and excited about using your product or service—and to do so without overwhelming them with information.

For many companies, customer onboarding is a core business strategy. It can help retain and increase the lifetime value of each new customer by assisting them to get the most out of their experience with your product or service.

Customer onboarding can happen in many ways, from video tutorials and email courses to live online chat and in-person training.

It can be as simple as sending a welcome email or text message or include a more involved process. Either way, the goal is still the same: help new customers get up to speed on how to use your product.

Failure to provide an exceptional onboarding experience means losing new customers before they even start.

Why Is Customer Onboarding So Important

Onboarding can significantly impact your business's bottom line in several ways:

Customer lifetime value

Your onboarding experience is the first impression of your brand. It's not just another feature of your product; it's a way to show customers what they can expect from working with you.

Think about it this way: If a customer stays with you for two years, and they're worth $10,000 over that period, losing them is like throwing away $10,000.

Customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is the core ingredient of any successful business. It's the reason why customers continue using your product or service and recommend it to others. A fluid onboarding process plays a role in satisfying customers and keeping them happy.

It's a critical component of your customer experience and can boost your retention rate. It also creates a snowball effect that leads to more customers and revenue.

Customer retention

A high customer retention rate is one of the best indicators of a healthy business. It's the key to long-term success. Statistics show that retaining 5% of your customers can increase your business profit by 25 to 95%. In other words, it's about more than just bringing in new customers.

It's about keeping your customers happy and making sure they use your product or service best. A smooth onboarding process is integral to that—it lowers customer turnover and increases revenue per customer.

Churn Reduction

Businesses fail when they lose sight of their customers. Research shows that 23% to 30% of businesses lose customers yearly due to poor customer relationships. A smooth onboarding process can help companies reduce churn.

It helps you keep a close eye on your customers, identify any problems that may arise, and address them before they become more significant issues. This helps build strong customer relationships, reducing the likelihood of losing customers in the future.

Turning new users into raving fans

Raving fans are customers who are passionate about a brand. They are loyal, share their experiences with friends and family, and are willing to pay a premium for the brand's products or services. Creating raving fans is key to long-term success because it drives revenue growth by increasing customer lifetime value.

For example, if a customer pays $100 per month and refers ten friends who then do the same, that's an additional $1,000 in revenue for your business each month.

How to Process Customer Onboarding (With Examples)

You want to create a positive first impression in the early stages of client onboarding. Ensure new users can complete their first task and feel like they are progressing toward their goals. The following examples show how companies can do this by providing clear instructions, helpful tips, and personalization:

Cold Calls

More often, cold calls are the first contact a potential customer has with your business. A cold call is a business enabler; it's a way to introduce your business, start a conversation, and build rapport with a potential customer. Your approach will significantly impact the success of your business.

Being friendly, approachable, and helpful during the phone call is essential. The goal is to make it easy for the customer to say yes. Ask if they have any questions, and provide more information if necessary.

Don't expect them to buy immediately; try to get their feedback on what they like or don't like about the product/service. Working with a script is an excellent way to cover all the critical points.

It will also help you refrain from rambling about things that aren't relevant to your business. If you don't have a script, write down some talking points so that the call has structure and direction.

Only stick to the main points and remember not to make it sound like a sales pitch. To make a lasting impression, try to be as friendly and personable as possible.

Cold Calling Script Example

Hi,

I'm [your name] from [company name]. We've noticed that you're interested in our product. We're so glad you reached out! We'd love to get you up and running as soon as possible, but we need to review a few things before doing that.

First, let's talk about your goals. What do you hope to achieve with [product name]? How will this help your business grow? If there's anything specific that we should know about your business and what it does, now is the time to share it with us.

Second, let's talk about pricing. We have three pricing tiers for new customers: [tier 1], [tier 2], and [tier 3]. Which one would be best for you? Let me know when you decide so we can get started on the rest of the process.

Welcome Email

Immediately after signing up, new customers should receive a welcome email from your company. This is an opportunity to make a great first impression with them; it needs to be positive. The welcome email should include a brief introduction of your company, a thank-you for signing up, and an offer of help.

Here's an example of what a welcome email could look like for a SaaS customer onboarding process:

Hi!

Thanks so much for signing up with us today. I'm happy you decided to give us a try. We've set up a free trial account, so you can take our software for a spin before making any decisions.

To access it, go to [link] and enter your username and password below. If there's anything else we can do for you, please don't hesitate to reach out!

Thanks again, and we look forward to working with you.

- The [company] Team

Remember, this email is about getting customers comfortable with the product, so try to make it as simple as possible.

Offer help if they have questions and be clear about who to contact if they need anything. You can also use this email to add links to other resources, like tutorials or documentation pages.

Greeting Message

This is the first message a company sends users when onboarding them into a product.

The greeting message is an opportunity to introduce customers to the product in a way that sets them up for success. It involves two things:

  • Asking the user to change their password to something more secure

  • A tutorial on how to use the product (an introduction to the app features)

Refrain from including unnecessary or complicated details in this section; focus on getting the basics across clearly.

Here is a template you can borrow:

Hello!

Welcome to our product.

We are so glad you're here. We want to ensure you have a great experience using [product name]. Please take a moment to change your password to something more secure. We recommend using a long password with at least one capital letter, number, and unique character (like @, #, $).

Once you've done that, we recommend reading through our onboarding tour to get started using the app.

If you need any help, please send an email to support @ [company name].

Product Setup

A product setup wizard provides a responsive and engaging way to onboard new users. You can use it with the welcome tour to provide additional information and help users get started more quickly.

It is also a way to familiarize new users with the app's main features. The design should be clear and intuitive enough so that users feel confident that they can navigate the app without assistance.

The product setup wizard should also be easy to skip if desired.

Empty Statements on the Board

Your portal may feature free space to post messages for the user to read. Use this space to communicate various things, such as new features or updates to the portal. When using empty statements on your board, ensure they are visible and easy to read.

You can also use graphics to illustrate the point of a particular feature or functionality.

Here is an example of a statement you can include in the dashboard of your app:

"Schedule meetings with your team in seconds"

Interactive Walk-through

A walk-through can guide users through the features and functions of an app. This tutorial walks users through the different elements of your app and explains how each one works.

It involves learning through action and interaction, making it a great way to engage users. As such, provide users with contextual tips and hints on what they can do next.

For example, you can tell them that tapping on a button will bring up a list of options for them.

Knowledge Base

A knowledge base is a collection of articles on a specific topic. Businesses often use it to provide user manuals, step-by-step guides, or FAQs for their products. You can also use it to help users learn how to use your app.

A knowledge base can include text, images, and videos. Sometimes, it can consist of a section where users can leave feedback about their experience with your app or ask questions about how it works.

The key to creating a thriving knowledge base is making it easy for users to find what they want. Do this by organizing your content into categories and sub-categories, which will help people quickly locate the information they need.

Routine check-in

Checking in on your customers is a meaningful way to build a relationship with them and learn more about their progress during the onboarding process. It also allows you to address any issues that may arise.

Routine check-ins can be as simple as sending out an email survey or asking users to rate specific aspects of your app on a scale from one to five stars.

In addition, you can ask customers what new features they would like to see added or which ones are working well for them right now.

Prepare an Agenda

Preparing a sales kickoff agenda is essential when you're ready to onboard new clients. This agenda should include all the steps to take with each client and any necessary resources or documents.

When onboarding new clients across multiple teams, it's helpful to create a master document that everyone can access and update as needed.

Airgram is an excellent tool for creating a sales kickoff agenda. You can easily add talking points, assign them to specific team members, and schedule client meetings. 

This meeting aims to educate the client about your product, answer any questions and set clear expectations for future communication. Make sure each team member knows what information they need to cover during this discussion to provide a seamless experience for your clients.

Prepare Yourself Before the Discussion

Your kickoff meeting is more likely to be effective with adequate preparation. Creating a product roadmap is an excellent way to start.

This will help you ensure that your client understands how their project fits into the larger scope of your business and how you will execute it over time.

It would help if you prepared a clear communication plan with your client throughout the project. This will ensure everyone is on the same page and avoid confusion later.

Customer Onboarding Templates

When onboarding new clients, address every step in the process. Ensure your new customers get off on the right foot and have everything they need to succeed in their new roles.

Here is a list of customer onboarding templates that will help you do that:

Internal Onboarding Checklist

Automating a digital customer onboarding process reduces human error and makes the process much more efficient. Use this template to ensure that all the information required for onboarding is available at launch and during the initial use of your product or service.

Here is an example of what an excellent internal onboarding timeline might look like:

First onboarding call: April 10th -April 12th

  • Introducing the customer to the product or service.

  • The client signs up for an account and pays for their first month.

  • Giving the customer a platform tour, including how to log in and out and change settings.

  • Showing clients how to set up their company profile, including uploading logo files.

First Onboarding Call Sample Agenda

The first onboarding call is the first step in getting a new client up to speed. This call will help you and your client understand each other and set clear expectations for what you can do together.

 In the agenda, list the teams available for the call, both from your side and your client's. This will help you to ensure that everyone is prepared and ready for the call. The agenda should include these sections:

Welcome: Introduce yourself and your team, including a short description of your background and experience. Aim to create an environment where both sides feel comfortable and understand each other's roles.

Introductions and agenda setting: In this section, you'll want to review the agenda and confirm times for the call. Ask your client if they have any questions before moving on. The goal is to create a shared understanding of what each party expects from this conversation.

An overview of expectations for the product/service: Provide a high-level overview of what the client can expect from your product or service.

There is no need to get into the nitty-gritty details; instead, focus on explaining what they can expect from your work. It also helps to provide a resource for the client to refer back to if they have additional questions or concerns.

Review of the timeline: Provide an overview of your product or service timeline. If you're providing a service, this is also an excellent place to discuss how often you will be in touch with your client throughout the process.

Review of goals, objectives, and potential deliverables: Learn more about your client's goals, objectives, and challenges and discuss how you can help achieve them. This will also be an excellent place to review potential deliverables and ensure they align with your client's expectations. 

The next step: Brief your client on what the next step entails, how long you expect this to take and when they can expect to hear from you again.

Schedule a follow-up call: Plan a call to review your findings and discuss any questions your client might have.

Training Resources Repository Template

You can use this simple template to create a training resource repository. After a client enrolment call, send them a link to this page so they can access all the training material that will help them get the most value out of their membership.

Here is an email template you can use:

Dear [Client],

Welcome to the Training Resources Repository!

Here you will find all the training material to help you get the most value out of your membership.

You can access the material via the link below:

[Training Resources Repository Link]

Please let me know if you have any questions. I'm looking forward to supporting your success!

[Your Name]

[Client Success Manager]

Ensure the link include a brief description of what they can expect to find in your training resources repository, such as:

  • A library of training videos

  • An FAQ page

  • A link to a knowledge base that contains step-by-step instructions for ordinary tasks

It also helps to include a due date when you expect them to complete each training module. This will help keep you on track with your schedule and inspire the client to take action.

Handoff Templates

Once the onboarding is complete, you can begin handing off your clients to the team. This is a crucial step in the process, as you and your client need to feel confident that they can continue working without your constant oversight.

One option is simply sending the client an email that includes the following:

  • The relevant contact information for their assigned team member

  • A brief introduction to what the Point of Contact (POC) will be responsible for

  • How to get in touch with the POC

  • A link to the client portal and other resources (if applicable)

Here is a template you can use as a starting point:

Hi [Client Name],

We've come to the end of our onboarding journey, and I'm happy to say that you are now fully integrated into our system. From this point forward, you'll be working directly with [Team Member Name], who will be your Point of Contact (POC). The POC is responsible for helping you get the most out of our system and providing support if you run into any issues.

The POC can also help you set up integrations with other tools that we don't offer natively (like Salesforce). You can reach them at [email address] or by calling [phone number].

Please get in touch with our support team [ email address] or call [phone number] if any other questions, concerns, or suggestions arise while using our product.

We are here to help!

Thank you for choosing [Company Name]. We hope you enjoy using our product and look forward to working with you.

Customer Onboarding Best Practices

Customer onboarding is getting new customers up to speed with your product. It's about showing them how to use it and explaining its features. But what should this look like in practice? What are some of the best practices for digital customer onboarding?

Below are five ways you can improve your processes.

Understand your customers

Understanding your customers' needs and wants can be crucial to a successful onboarding process. You can ask questions about their goals, challenges, and pain points before they sign up for your product. This will help you better tailor your onboarding process to meet their needs.

Set clear expectation

Next, set clear expectations for your customers to help them know what to expect when using your product or service.

This helps them feel more confident using your product or service, reducing the risk of a bad experience. As their needs and expectations change, you should be able to adapt without losing credibility or momentum.

Show Value

Give customers a reason to stick around and continue using your product or service. You can do this by providing them with valuable features, such as training materials or help documentation. You can also offer them something in exchange for their time (like a free trial).

Ensure your product or service is easy to use and understand. If it isn't, customers will feel unsatisfied and may leave before seeing the value in your offer.

Listen to Feedback

Customer feedback is a valuable resource — don't overlook it! A customer's complaint means something is wrong and needs to change. Listen to their feedback and take the appropriate steps to fix the problem. When unable to act immediately, let them know when you can provide an answer or solution.

Build a Lasting Relationship

A company that values its customers will do everything possible to build lasting relationships. Providing excellent service goes a long way in building a good reputation and ensuring repeat business. 

It's never about only making a sale — think about what to do to streamline the customer's experience and build a deeper connection.

Conclusion

Customer onboarding is an essential part of a customer lifecycle. It sets the tone for the relationship between a business and a client and helps build trust. If done correctly, it can make satisfied customers out of new ones—and dissatisfied ones into loyalists!

A business can enhance its customer relationship by leading them through an effective customer-onboarding process. By putting more effort into onboarding, your customers will likely become long-term fans. So please take this opportunity to make our guide your new best friend!

Ranee Zhang

Ranee is the Head of Growth of Airgram and has rich experience in the SaaS field. She developed a passion for writing as a young girl and believed the written word could unlock doors as well as the imagination.

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