First impressions are everything. At a time when people have more choices than ever, it’s no wonder that they’re ready to leave at the slightest hint of friction. Typically, that first post-sale impression happens during customer onboarding. Not surprisingly, poor onboarding is among the leading causes of churn.
Onboarding is where you create repeat customers and brand champions or lose new customers altogether.
3 Things to Avoid Churn During Customer Onboarding
So the question becomes: how do we orchestrate onboarding experiences that meet or exceed a new customer’s expectations? Having seen and consulted on my fair share of onboarding programs, here’s the three things I tend to see across the companies that excel in customer retention.
1. Start By Mapping the Ideal Customer Experience
When mapping your ideal customer experience, simply define your optimal outcome and work backward to log all of the steps required to get there. Think about how many handoffs you have and try to reduce the number of internal transitions as much as possible. The idea is to not only formalize what an ideal onboarding journey looks like but to identify extra steps, friction points, and oversights that frustrate new customers.
2. Find Onboarding Technologies and Tools that Do It Faster Smarter
Think about technology that can help your team to carry out, monitor, measure, and improve the onboarding process. I’ve found the Visual Onboarding Process to be quite useful. Consider a survey platform so you can run post-kickoff, post-onboarding, and other important surveys. Of course, onboarding software platforms, customer success platforms, and even ticketing solutions might all contribute to a more efficient and intuitive onboarding experience.
Oh, and don’t forget to account for data onboarding.
Finally, I frequently tell Customer Success teams to keep metrics on user adoption to help pinpoint common sticking points. From there, you’ll have the data you need to build playbooks/guided support to help customers through any friction they encounter.
3. Bring Value
There’s a reason I put journey mapping first on this list. There’s so much value in taking the time to understand your customers’ context—especially as it relates to the onboarding process. When you understand specific needs at specific points in the journey, you can enhance those touchpoints with a lot more value. Here’s what I mean:
- Knowledge base content
- Guided support
The list goes on. Yet, creating the content is only the first step. You’ve got to find ways to get it into your customers’ hands in their time of need. If most of your customers turn to Google when they encounter an issue, make your help content indexable. You can also create email nurture sequences, or stand up personalized portals and dashboards.
The idea is to anticipate questions, educate customers, and show up when they need help. And speaking of dashboards, I recently installed solar on my home. They have a personalized installation tracker that keeps me abreast of what’s next and what’s needed from me at each stage.
Why Not Make Onboarding Your Retention Engine?
We can read reports and blog posts about bad onboarding and churn until we’re blue in the face. There is another way! I firmly believe that a customer onboarding strategy consistent with the three best practices I laid out above can not only reduce churn during onboarding, but turn onboarding into a first shining step toward glowing customer retention. Onboarding doesn’t have to be a source of churn any longer.