As an introvert, the feeling I had when I first started university was something.
A big campus full of unknown people that I might need to stop and ask for directions to my next class... It was like a rollercoaster till I was assigned a tour guide that would help me around the campus and fill me in on the details that would be handy later.
That one week I spent with my voluntary guide is a wonderful example of a new customer onboarding process as both offer a hand in getting to know a foreign matter.
What Is the New Customer Onboarding Process?
The new customer onboarding process is one of the stages that customers go through during the customer lifecycle to reach a conclusion about the fruitfulness of the product or service provided.
This "fruitfulness" is the value customers derive from the product or service, so as long as customers get to experience an effective onboarding that involves simple steps that lead to customer success in a short amount of time, they will be more than willing to get to know it and increase customer retention as well.
Later on, the endless positive experience concerning the product or service will generate satisfied customers who tend to put the product or service to use regularly in their daily lives, which will inspire them to be loyal customers who will be the pioneers of word-of-mouth marketing for the respective product or service.
Seeing that this entire process depends on how well the new customer onboarding experience is managed, onboarding teams must place the utmost importance when designing an onboarding journey that fits all needs.
New Customer Onboarding Process Explained
Paying special attention to the term onboarding would not be enough for the execution of a successful onboarding process.
For this reason, I have divided this part of the customer journey into seven onboarding steps that would help you enhance the new customer onboarding experience you design for your audience and explained the practices you should follow (or refrain from doing) under each critical step.
Even though some people consider the setup process as the beginning, the user onboarding experience starts the moment a potential customer interacts with the product or service—which puts forward the marketing efforts put into introducing the product or service.
Marketing is a crucial part of the customer lifecycle because it is the reference line where prospective customers notice the existence of the product at hand. You must make the most of this process by assuring that the prospectives will soon turn into current customers, which is the ultimate goal of the marketing department.
Seeing your advertisement must call them to action—to sign up, precisely. They should be interested enough to go over to your website and try the product firsthand or read the success stories and use cases to get motivated to perform the most important action of this step: clicking on the signup button.
2- Signup / First Contact
Provided that the marketing team has done an excellent job at gathering customers, the next step is the beginning of the initial onboarding process, which is the signup (most of the time).
Somehow, there is another option a product or service could adopt in accordance with the assistance it provides: demo.
If a product lands you on its signup page where you can fill the signup form at once, that means that there is a free trial it offers to get customers to know the product and experience it directly. However, in a case where signup takes the form of a demo, it will prompt customers to contact the concerned team to request one so that they can use it.
No matter what the product asks customers to do —fill out a signup form or request a demo— there are some practices that both processes should follow to ensure customer activation.
Minimizing the signup process is a must for starters because customers do not want to deal with many procedures. Asking fewer questions and keeping it short and sweet might do the trick to keep them on board since it is a reality that some potential customers do not continue after being asked too much information too soon, which results in a high drop-off rate. Instead, ask what you think is important by splitting it into multiple pages after getting them signed up.
The other practice is enabling them to sign up via a single click that uses a well-known service they could connect to the platform with, such as Google, Slack, or social media accounts—which would remove most of the friction by giving them the freedom to get in the product in the shortest amount of time without any requirements.
Let's illustrate this step by giving two examples, Notion and FullStory.
3- Product Walkthroughs/Tours
For customers to derive value from the product, a product tutorial is a must.
Product tours are saviors, especially for a complex product. Regardless, they will work in the product's favor since they guide customers throughout their journey to make sure that they get the most out of it without any problems.
Product walkthroughs aim to showcase what the product is capable of while gently pushing the customers that way to make them notice and use to experience it.
Even though what an interactive walkthrough achieve is otherworldly, a product tutorial will do just as fine if you know how to display the benefits of the product within a series of steps. For long-term success, it is noted that many customers prefer going through a rather short process that helps them understand the concept and features without tiring them.
4- The Aha Moment
The Aha moment occurs as the customers understand that they can reach their goals by using the product at hand. It is not only the value of the product that is understood but also the value it can bring to the customer's life, which is an important step as it is an indicator of an increase in customer engagement when it is reached.
5- Product Onboarding Checklists for the Next Steps
When the customers know what they are able to do with the product, all there is left is to make sure they get to do more by using the product.
This job calls for the customer onboarding checklist that would help push the customers in the right direction to show what (additional) features they can enjoy.
Checklists are also great tools that keep track and measure customer progress; they will not be lost in the process and check where they left off when they come back—if they leave during the onboarding.
6- Getting Feedback About the Onboarding Process
Your customer onboarding process might have all the steps above yet still fail miserably due to the lack of empathy.
Onboarding processes are made for customers, so you must ensure that you get to hear what they think about it. Customer feedback is an essential part of onboarding since everyone, from the product team to the customer success team, gets to understand the pain points of the customers, the issues they face throughout the process, and the likes and dislikes regarding the product.
If all teams come together to improve their work by what feedback is constantly given as a reason to churn, they will improve the product and customer experience. Hence, it prevents customer churn rate from going up and keeps the ongoing relationship with your customers healthy and well.
7- Finalizing the Onboarding Process
After finalizing the onboarding process, what must be done is clear. Maintain the bond you have formed with the customers by showing that you are always there for them.
This step is not about keeping the customers using the product regularly; it is about showing them that they can reach you when they need assistance, have a question, and request something new.
However, excelling in this step gets you to maintain customer loyalty and an increase in key metrics, such as conversion rates, activation rates, customer retention rate, etc.
If you manage to include and execute all these seven steps within your onboarding, it will be a positive onboarding experience that the customers are not likely to forget.
The new customer onboarding process is not to be ignored since it plays a key role in retaining customers and sustaining the professional and customer relationship you have with them.
For this reason, this article solely focuses on what new customer onboarding is and how it should be executed in seven steps with explanations.