Customer-client relationships have changed drastically in the 21st century. We’re quickly moving from a one-time purchase goal to subscriptions, so success no longer means securing as many deals as possible.
Now the focus is on creating long-lasting customer relationships, with expectations, loyalty, and continued service the most prized qualities for companies.
So to help you use onboarding as a way of connecting with — and keeping — customers, we’ve created a client onboarding guide made up of 7 handy steps that will boost your approach.
The advantages of client onboarding are:
Reducing customer churn
Stronger relationships with clients
Better efficiency in deals
There are many tactics that help improve your client onboarding experience, but all of them are based on a few guiding principles:
Build strong relationships
Be honest, open, and realistic
Maintain fluid communication
Constantly improve your approach
One of the main aims of our client onboarding guide is to create strong, long-lasting connections with your customers. We're at a stage now where companies have the power to treat people on an individual level, and businesses that neglect this quickly fall behind.
Make sure to begin your journey with a video call or even a physical meeting if possible. These methods are far more personal than an email back-and-forth, and knowing they can put a face to a name is extremely reassuring for clients. Give your new users the opportunity to ask their own questions and add them to an overall FAQ section to make life easier for future customers.
But talking to your clients on a personal level also includes giving them advantages that non-clients can't reach, such as access to portals, their own profile complete with their specific preferences.
Show how much you value your most loyal customers. This can include event invites offered before they go on sale to the general public or exclusive content — any industry-specific features that go above and beyond what is expected.
Finally, it's a great idea to have a specific account manager for each user. By using the right communication tools, such as chat bots or internal instant messenger systems, one manager can easily answer multiple issues from a variety of accounts without committing to a single phone call or video call meeting.
Depending on your company and sector, client onboarding guides can get complex and cumbersome, which is very off-putting to contacts who have better things to do than read hundreds of pages of boring text.
Rather than putting together a thick pack of documents that, let’s be honest, nobody is going to read, explore the possibility of making a video. With some smart video planning, you can create an engaging guide to everything you offer both in terms of product and in service.
Most company-client relationships can benefit from visual tools like a cheat sheet. This could, for example, clearly feature all the price tiers and major features of your offering, or a list of FAQs.
In keeping with the focus on personal attention, think about things to include in a physical welcome package. Travel mugs and pens are standard gifts, but you might be able to add in a little treat that only your company can offer to sweeten the deal.
Sure, your welcome package needs attractive elements, but you have to cover the essentials too. As part of your client onboarding kit, include contracts and payment agreements and be methodical about how you receive and store that data — more about that later. Customizable forms come in very handy at this stage. Integrate them with your CRM and your clients will populate your database without you lifting a finger.
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Yes, it's a client onboarding guide, but onboarding isn’t just for your clients. You need a team that can deliver the whole process with their eyes closed.
Preparing your team for every eventuality will lead to happy clients who are sure that if they have a question, it will be answered quickly and confidently. So book out a room, get those fake phones ready and start running role plays. As your team comes up with scenarios, they'll get into the mindset of their clients and gain some valuable risk-free experience. Let their imaginations run wild — not all of your clients will be mild-mannered, tech-savvy geniuses who only need to hear things once.
Aside from training, you can prepare your team with detailed records on each of your clients. Your CRM is the home of all your data where you can record the progress of each customer with any individual needs they may have.
A detailed CRM is your secret weapon in keeping customers happy. If you lose one member, or someone is off sick, anybody on your team should be able to jump in at a moment’s notice. With a quick look over the client’s file, your stand-in should be able to go into a meeting equipped with the same knowledge as the regular account manager.
In an ideal world, a client onboarding guide could be so strong and watertight that your customers could go through it once and be set for life. Clearly, we don't live in that world, so you need to be prepared for updates, reminders, and improvements to keep that relationship strong.
As part of your account onboarding process, you can schedule in bi-weekly meetings on your calendar to go over any tricky concepts. You can ask about how they are enjoying your product and if they have already found success after initial examples you ran with them at the beginning of your journey.
Your check-in meetings are a great opportunity to pick up on pain points that are common to multiple independent users. As we’ll see later, analyzing performance is a key part of our client onboarding guide, and with the right processes in place to record client issues, you can get a clear picture of how to improve in the future.
Similarly, like so many points on this list, these check-ins have an immediate result — solving issues — and the background effect of generating loyalty. Therefore, it is important for clients to see the same familiar face who is up-to-date on each customer’s specific case.
If you can't measure it, you can't improve it.
A key part of our client onboarding guide is to gather as much data as possible on every aspect of your process. Think about time taken over phone calls, which steps constantly need to be repeated and the worst case scenario of losing clients during the onboarding process.
With workflows, you can break down your client onboarding process into small, trackable steps to better identify sticking points. Not only does this work as a customer onboarding checklist, but you can further segment each step by user or by the kind of client for more pinpoint analysis.
The best CRM tools on the market come with analytics. So with very little effort, you can measure the metrics of each step, such as time taken over the process and customer churn, to help improve your weak areas and celebrate the strong ones.
However, a drop in performance may not always be down to your team. Changes in technology or the utility of your products can affect how well clients interact with you. So gather data on buying habits and wider tendencies in your sector and send it to your product team to make changes outside of your own department.
Although improving products doesn’t fit directly into the sales or customer success departments’ remit, these customer-facing teams are in the best position to discover user issues with what you offer and pass the message up the pipeline. With a product more suited to your customers, your onboarding process will flow far more smoothly.
Over time, things change, and as part of our client onboarding guide, we want you to surf the wave rather than get submerged by it.
Fresh products, better practices, unforeseeable circumstances, new client demands, and nightmare calls are all factors that should make you change your approach. Whether they come through client feedback, suggestions from your team, or your CRM analysis, warning signs will appear that mean you need to update your onboarding processes regularly to offer the best service.
One of the most important sources of information to advise how you move forward is through client feedback. Some of your clients will voluntarily get in touch with your contact center when they have queries, but others will quietly keep themselves to themselves. However, there are methods you can use to draw your clients’ opinions out.
With customer success forms, you can quickly measure a wide range of KPIs, develop a net promoter score, and offer a generic text box for users to bring up any questions you haven’t covered.
Combine your client feedback with your own internal analysis to improve your client onboarding guide, making sure your team is up-to-date on any changes. Aside from improving your process, showing that you are willing to listen to your clients helps to further deepen the trust between business and client.
Companies who fail to adapt are sure to see a rise in their churn rate, and ultimately fall behind their more organized competitors.
We hope you’ve been able to take some inspiration from our client onboarding guide and can see ways to apply it in your own company. With all of these customer-focused tips, you can sow the seeds of excellent customer relations across the board.
However, you can’t maintain those relationships if you aren’t well-organized behind the scenes. That is why you need the right tools to take care of a lot of the dirty work.
As we mentioned, a CRM is your customer headquarters, holding detailed records and contact details for all your users. But with Bitrix24 you can take things much further with customer onboarding checklists, communication features, automations, and more.
Over 10,000,000 companies have already put their trust in Bitrix24 to organize their approach and concentrate on the human side of things. You can get started for free, so sign up, give it a go, and see how Bitrix24 can boost your business.