Companies that want to improve their customer experience often struggle with where to start. The answer, often, is at the beginning. I don’t mean to be flip. I’m talking about the beginning of the customer lifecycle, that critical time when companies work to convert prospects to fully integrated and profitable customers.
Onboarding shapes your customers’ first impressions of your company and has the potential to influence the long-term success of the relationship. For example:
- Telecoms that provide clear set up and installation instructions reduce customer frustration and service calls.
- Credit card companies that streamline the activation process get customers charging new purchases as soon as possible.
- Hotels and airlines that help new loyalty program customers better understand their potential rewards can influence future bookings.
While the business benefits of delivering a great first customer experience are numerous, many of today’s onboarding processes are both painful for customers and, as a result, expensive for companies…
While the business benefits of delivering a great first customer experience are numerous, many of today’s onboarding processes are both painful for customers and, as a result, expensive for companies. For example, a leading pay TV provider found that customer satisfaction dropped nearly 40% over the course of its onboarding experience. And J.D. Power & Associates found that new retail banking customers are nearly three times more likely to switch banks during the first 90 days after account opening.
Companies that want to take advantage of the power of a positive onboarding experience should:
- Map the onboarding journey. Customer journey maps are illustrations of the interactions your customers have with your company (and their feelings about those interactions) over a given period of time. Start by writing down all of your assumptions about the onboarding experience, each one on a separate sticky note, and then align them in chronological order on a large sheet of butcher paper. Show your assumption journey map to real customers who are currently going through the onboarding process (or have done so recently) and ask them to correct any omissions or errors.
- Identify the biggest pain points. As you work with customers, pinpoint the interactions that cause the most frustration or confusion. Keep in mind that the lack of an interaction can also be a problem — during onboarding, your customers may want or expect to hear from you about the status of their application or get reassurance about next steps, but these communications don’t always happen.
- Prioritize cross-department transitions. By its nature, onboarding encapsulates many internal hand-offs. Customers might be transferred from marketing to sales, from sales to customer service, and from customer service to legal — and it’s often a lack of smooth communication across these silos that causes the most problems for customers. Work with representatives from each key department to determine what they need (like new processes or software tools) to facilitate more effective internal collaboration and better support customers at each step of the onboarding journey.
By diligently analyzing and working to improve the onboarding experience, companies can positively impact the long-term success of both the customer relationship and their business.