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Customer Onboarding Meetings
The bar for customer satisfaction has risen dramatically during the past few years. Companies that seek to instill a sense of loyalty in their customers do so through thoughtful journeys and experiences. One of the most important steps in this process involves customer onboarding.
Great organizations know that the job isn’t finished once the sale has been completed. Once the customer has signed on the dotted line, they’ll want to start working on their investment return. Vendors who provide a disjointed experience between the sales experience and customer onboarding experience will have trouble maintaining high customer satisfaction and eliminate the possibility of repeat business.
What Is an Onboarding Call?
Depending on your product’s complexity, depth of your service, or size of the organization in question, a customer onboarding meeting may be the centerpiece of your customer onboarding experience. Nailing this client meeting can mean the difference between a short-term engagement and a long-term partnership.
Common customer onboarding examples are abundant in software. Take a customer that has recently purchased a new software suite that is going to play a role in his or her business processes, he or she must be trained on how to use this software program to find long-term success.
Another example of customer onboarding involves customers who might have signed on with a new shipping or warehousing service. This might also be a subscription service where the customer has to learn how to use it to meet his or her needs. Of course, customers should get as much as possible out of their investment in this type of service. This is just another example where customer onboarding will play a key role.
When there are complex products or business services involved, a project kickoff meeting might be required. A customer onboarding call or meeting aims to help the new customer learn about the product or service they have purchased. The goal is to outline the steps the customer will have to take to maximize his or her use of that product or service. This should be the priority of every customer onboarding call or meeting. When thinking about approaching the steps involved in the customer onboarding process, there are a few key points that every business should note.
What Is a Customer Onboarding Strategy?
When thinking about how the customer onboarding steps or processes are going to unfold, it is crucial to approach this systemically. This will guide the customer onboarding strategy from start to finish. When designing a customer onboarding strategy, approach it from the customer’s perspective. After all, if the goal is to keep the customer as happy as possible, every vendor and organization should put themselves in the customer’s shoes. They need to ask themselves what the customer would want to see. Then, they need to rise to meet these needs.
First and foremost, the sales team is responsible for taking leads and getting customers to sign with the company. Once they close the sale, they might think that their job is done; however, the sale is not going to mean much if the customer is displeased with the next step. Therefore, the handoff meeting between the sales team and the customer success team is one of the most important steps.
During this time, customer onboarding statistics show that this is a regular time when the relationship between the customer and the company starts to sour. As a result, the sales team’s hard work might go to waste if the customer decides to terminate the relationship purely because the handoff didn’t go well. Therefore, companies have to perfect this process and make sure that the customer handoff process proceeds as smoothly as possible.
With this in mind, communication during the customer handoff meeting from the sales team to the success team is vital. There are three different parties involved in this meeting. The first is the customer. They are the most important, and they need to be heard. Second is the sales team, which just spent a lot of time trying to close the deal. The third party is the customer success team. They will be responsible for the rest of the customer onboarding process once the sales team is done.
During this time, it is critical to make sure that the customer’s needs and expectations are completely understood. This is why communication is so important. There cannot be anything lost in translation as the customer passes from the sales team to the customer success team. The sales team is responsible for ensuring the customer success team understands everything the customer has already gone through, the questions that have been asked and answered, and how the company is going to meet the needs of the customer. In this situation, it is a good idea to use a customer onboarding template.
This template will lay out all of the pertinent information the sales team has gathered to ensure the customer success team can meet the needs of the customer, keeping his or her business. While it is okay for the customer success team to repeat some of these questions to make sure the needs of the customer haven’t changed, the customer success team still needs to know everything the sales team has already done so that the customer knows that his or her needs are at the top of the priority list.
One way to develop an effective and consistent customer onboarding process is by working from a template like the one below:
Customer Onboarding Meeting Agenda
Introductions – 10 min
Continue to build rapport with the new customer. This process may have already started during the sales handoff process, but be sure to continue that engagement.
Discuss Customer Goals – 10 min
First discussed in the sales discovery process, the CSM should reiterate what the customer’s goals are and ensure that these are still accurate. The CSM should ask if anything on the customer’s side has recently changed or if goals have shifted.
Walkthrough – 30 min
This is where the onboarding really begins. Help the client log into your product or kickoff initial discussions on the project at hand. Allow for questions frequently, and offer helpful guides, videos, or other resources whenever possible.
Next steps – 10 min
Before ending the customer onboarding meeting, take a moment to lay out what the customer can next expect from you and your team. Tell them which resources you are going to send over, when next to hear from you, and what the client’s upcoming to-dos will be. If another meeting is required, schedule or confirm it now.
Why is Customer Onboarding Important?
Customer onboarding is one of the most important parts of the relationship between the customer and the company. It is important to think about the customer lifecycle. From lead to recurring customer, many steps have to take place to make sure the relationship grows productively. Once a sale has been finished, it is important to continue to focus on the relationship between the vendor and the client.
Specifically, the client needs to know that the company cares about more than just closing the deal. This is where the customer onboarding process is important. While a customer onboarding call is standard for longer deals and long-term success, it is still important to try to have a face to face meeting when possible. This customer onboarding method is important because it helps the customer put a face to the people who are going to be taking care of their (or the client business’s) needs. When companies take the time to meet with clients in person, this goes a long way toward furthering the relationship.
Furthermore, companies need to make sure they have a firm, proven, straightforward strategy for customer onboarding. For example, customer onboarding software can play an important role because this standardizes the customer onboarding process. With customer onboarding software, it is easy for clients to work through the customer onboarding process at their own pace. This also saves the vendor money because the software doesn’t require a lot of real estate and also doesn’t require an instructor to be present at every step of the customer onboarding process. Of course, it is still important for companies to provide a customer support line if the client has questions during the customer onboarding process.
Finally, the customer onboarding process is also important because it provides the customer with a memorable, positive experience at the start of the relationship between the vendor and the client. When there is a positive relationship between the vendor and client, this means a greater lifetime value, less churn, and a higher level of customer satisfaction. Of course, this also translates into more clients in the form of referrals, which helps the company grow its bottom line. This will help the company position itself well in a competitive industry or market.
Therefore, companies that want to ensure long-term success need to think carefully about executing the customer onboarding process. First, the vendor needs to think about the perspective of the client. Second, it is critical to think about the information the client needs to know to get the most out of the product or service that he or she just purchased. Finally, it is also important for the vendor to take the time to meet the client’s needs in a personalized manner that will grow the relationship between the vendor and the client, ensuring a lifetime of success. Companies that would like to compete in the modern era need to make sure they place the customer onboarding experience at the top of the priority list. This will provide them with an edge over the competition because they will foster a sense of loyalty among their client base.
Tips for a successful customer onboarding meeting
Convey a clear and transparent process for the customer.
Be transparent about the upcoming process. What should the customer expect to learn, and when should they expect to learn it? Eliminate surprises whenever possible.
In two forms, consistency can deliver a comforting customer experience and develop trust between you and your client. First, be consistent in communication of goals, steps, process, and the timing of your messages. Don’t let little details confuse. Second, build a checklist of questions to ask and topics to cover, so nothing is forgotten the first time. A few follow-ups are forgiven, but you don’t want your customer to feel like they’ve made a mistake doing business with you.
Roll out the red carpet.
Put yourself in your client’s shoes. How would you feel if you were learning how to use your product or engage with your service for the first time? What questions would you have? What would be cause for concern? Answer these questions in your process and build them into your process.
Be proactive in your outreach.
Don’t wait for the customer to ask a question. Provide clarity and comfort in the early stages of the partnership to develop that rapport and relationship.
Reach for the moment of value
Often called the “aha” moment, this is when the customer understands the value of the product in action. Ideally, the customer will eventually be able to look for answers themselves, allowing your onboarding program to scale.
Go beyond the meeting.
Send intentional emails before and after meetings with value-adding resources like walkthroughs, guides, or videos. Some organizations build their brand into their onboarding process with branded swag like t-shirts, stickers, mugs, and other personal goodies for the user included in their welcome packet.
Let the client be the hero.
At every stage, be sure to give the customer the tools, resources, and support they need to own their success. Your customer hired your product or service for a job to be done, and they want to know they can help guide and facilitate the process without having to call on you every time they come to a new problem. Empower your new client and help them be the center of the story as they achieve their goals.
Finally, refine and iterate on your customer onboarding process based on feedback solicited from your customers. As you walked them through the onboarding, ask: was anything unclear? Where did the customer get stuck? Did something go particularly well, or particularly bad? Use this information to update your customer onboarding meeting process template for next time.