Customers are the lifeblood of every business. They are the ones that power the business and they are the ones who move it forward. That is why customer onboarding is such a critical ingredient to success.
The technical definition of customer onboarding is ‘the process of introducing new customers to your company in an organized and effective manner’. Customer onboarding is a structured, standardized way of teaching all new customers about your business, product and service. Customer onboarding uses specific pieces of content, tools, and strategies to increase customer profitably.
In non-technical terms, onboarding is all about cementing loyalty early on and leveraging that critical honeymoon period in the relationship to build trust.
A poor onboarding experience for your customers can pretty much kill your growth… if not your whole business. Customers that come in, buy once and leave are not nearly as profitable as loyal customers who stay with you for years and years.
Because of this, all companies strive to create a customer onboarding process that requires minimal overhead while delivering maximum results. Optimizing and automating the process involved in bringing customers into the fold will help you grow your business faster and more efficiently.
Here are 4 tried and tested strategies to power up your onboarding process using marketing automation.
Step 1: Triggered messages
Congratulations! Someone has bought from you! Now what?
You can either leave it at that, and chances are you will never see that customer again. Or, you can start developing the relationship, you’ve built up so far in the nurturing process.
When you move a lead to the ‘Won’ section of your sales pipeline, this could be a trigger for a launch of your onboarding campaign.
Your first email should be a ‘Welcome aboard!’ type of email send directly from the CEO of the company. Although automated, this email should not ‘feel’ too-formal and pre-written. Most customers today are much more relaxed about the customer-business relationship so make sure your content sounds friendly and approachable.
You want to make the person feel welcomed. You can achieve that by personalizing the message.
Step 2: Introduce the team and the resources available
Depending on your business and the type of product or service you offer, this second email may vary in format and content.
This is the place to help the customer familiarize themselves with the people and resources available to them.
This email should come from your customer service director or the team-member who will be working closely or will be ‘in charge’ of their case. Build a bridge for the customer to reach out to you when needed. If they ever have a query or a questions, some useful feedback or a complaint, it is much easier for them to address it to a specific person.
In terms of resources, if there is a section on your website where customers can find useful how-to guides, maybe a blog or an FAQ section or a support forum section, this is the place to introduce them.
It’s even better if you have some sort of an exclusive section of your website that is dedicated to customers. This way they will feel as part of something special and prompt their loyalty.
Step 3: Be social
Chances are that by now your customer has already liked your Facebook page and followed you on Twitter but you can never be too sure.
Drop them a sweet and short email about how to stay in touch using social networking sites. Incentivize by informing them that they may find exclusive offers there, updates on the company and upcoming sales.
Step 4: Phone call
The fourth and final step in your onboarding process is a friendly phone call. Most CRM apps allow you to set up tasks as part of your automation process (InTouch CRM does!). So make sure that after the last email has been sent, the person in charge of the customer’s case gives them a ring to see how they are getting on.
It has been a good few days (maybe even a week, depending on how you spread out your emails) and the client is bound to be nicely settled with their new purchase, so go ahead and give them a call. Ask them how satisfied they are, if they have any questions or feedback, if there is anything else you can help them with.
The final human interaction, is bound to seal the deal and really make the customer feel like they are getting a great, personalised service..
Timing – schedule the emails 3-4 days apart. You don’t want to be a spammer and overwhelm the customer with too many emails too soon. Space them out a little bit.
Content – make the content as personal and relevant as possible. Most people don’t get it right from the first time, so try out different content or different structures to see what fits your customers. You can see what works from your email reports.
Marketing automation doesn’t automate relationships – Even though automation is really useful to build on relationships and can support a customer onboarding program, you can not take the human interaction out of the equation altogether. Don’t let automated follow up and automation in general, to become the only way customers receive onboarding support and service. That is why we included Step 4 and the phone call.
Now that you know these steps, you can go ahead and create a next generation onboarding campaign that will help you create long-lasting customer relationships. How, when, and what is communicated during the onboarding stage, will do much to determine the extent to which new customers take advantage of and appreciate the wide range of potential benefits that come with being a customer of your business. Make sure you communicate those benefits!
For more practical tips on customer onboarding and ways to grow your business, download our Small Business Growth Formula. It is a sales and marketing process specifically designed for small businesses to get the most leverage from their sales and marketing money and time.