What is Onboarding?
Onboarding is the process of welcoming new customers, making sure their questions or issues are addressed, and offering new products and services as the needs become apparent. From welcome calls to user groups to training sessions, onboarding can take many forms, depending on the business. The process is widely regarded as a necessity for retaining customers and deepening their relationships, but many businesses struggle with both the organization of onboarding steps as well as their implementation across multiple departments.
While many businesses fall short with a lackluster onboarding program, many more are using technology solutions like CRM to help them both implement and monitor the initiatives. When put to work as an extension of CRM's core functionality, a workflow or campaign centered around the new customer experience is a true game changer. Beyond the baseline contact and task management, the advantages of CRM become apparent when we look at data integrations, touchpoint automation, and cross-selling. In these areas, the system builds a safety net for new clients by ensuring a smooth and intuitive process where the business is aware of problems as they happen, no one falls through the cracks and gets forgotten, and opportunities to deepen a customer relationship are seized.
The billing process provides a great example of how easily customers can be overlooked. When new customers are invoiced and make a payment, this information is received and noted by the accounting department, and may not be visible to anyone else in the company. If that client is waiting on product delivery or if someone in the company should be reaching out to confirm that the client received what they paid for, the folks in accounting would have had to notify outside departments every time a payment is received. By integrating the finance data with other customer data in CRM, the company can open a window into what exactly is going on with that person and can make that information available to anyone with access to CRM (generally a much wider audience than those accessing accounting software). The customer service team can be automatically notified as soon as payment is received, triggering a customer care call or follow up email. By connecting employees with customers through the data, CRM helps make sure all clients are welcomed into the fold and have an experience that builds loyalty and satisfaction.
Businesses will state that "everyone is a salesperson," meaning that all employees should have their antennas up for customer needs and be willing to address them. This is great on paper but less so in practice, because selling takes a level of training and confidence that many employees just don’t have. The onboarding process is a great time to start making some "soft sales" when customers are just learning what the company offers and are already receptive to the conversations around purchases and money. CRM helps warm up the sales conversation even further, delivering cross-sell recommendations to employees based on what the customer has already purchased and where their needs might lead them. By delivering contextually accurate notifications, CRM gives the business an opportunity to offer products and services to customers that are most likely to be well received.
Today’s businesses operate in a world where the margin for error with customers is very slim and where competition is fierce. The margins are even smaller in the fragile first days of any customer’s experience with that company. Ensuring receipt of the product and answering follow-up questions are the foundation of a welcome process that may include phone calls, emails, letters, or seminars and training. All of this can be a circus even for the largest, best-equipped company, and the prospects for smaller companies can be worse. Using CRM as part of an onboarding initiative will help manage the process by automating customer touchpoint notifications, displaying all of the customers’ information in one spot, and delivering timely cross-sales information. This technology behind the scenes will lead to a customer experience that is smooth, responsive, and attentive to their needs without being too pushy or too distant. The “just right” customer experience is hard to achieve but can solidify the customer relationship and create loyalty that keeps people coming back year after year.