It’s an integral part of customer support that’s, unfortunately, often overlooked. Once the sale is finalized and customers are “in”—particularly with recurring-revenue platforms like SaaS (software as a service)—there’s a tendency to let automated services take over and focus reactively instead of proactively.
But, in my experience, that’s a mistake. The early stage of a customer’s journey is extremely important—building rapport, setting expectations, and (hopefully) paving the way for future satisfaction. This is when customers form lasting impressions and decide whether the product or service they purchased will actually prove valuable. Attracting customers is not enough; to be successful, businesses need to retain them, and that process starts with onboarding.
Onboarding is not necessarily teaching the customer how to use a product, but rather, how to solve problems and alleviate concerns by using the product. It’s important businesses thoroughly consider their customers: their specific goals, what they need to achieve them, and how the companies’ resources can help them get there.
It’s important to note that customer onboarding is an ongoing, iterative process. Companies that design the process around these predetermined goals while focusing on the following areas stand to see long-term customer satisfaction and retention.
It’s best to address each customers’ unique business needs, establish measurements for success, and develop training plans from the very beginning. At Ultimate Software, we use proven methodology to ensure our customers are up and running quickly. Individualized, expert guidance starts with end-user training and extends to self-service resources, configuration tips, and best practices for using our software, UltiPro®.
Customer service is often a key differentiator for companies. In HR tech, for example, a recent study revealed an astonishing 77% of HR buyers regretted their vendor choice—and the primary reason wasn’t product functionality, usability, or price. It was service. Moreover, 71% of respondents wished they had done more research on vendors’ customer service, and three out of four reported having issues with their current vendors’ service. Customers are often drawn to product functionality, but if they’re unhappy with service, they’ll most likely be dissatisfied overall. Businesses should always look for opportunities to improve their service offerings. At Ultimate, when we considered the limitations of traditional tiered support, for example, we adopted a collaborative support model that decreased customer resolution time by 60%.
Remember, effective onboarding is ongoing and should continue throughout the customer lifecycle—reinforcing the understanding of existing solutions, introducing new ones, building confidence, and bolstering value. Ongoing collaboration is also important, and this is a two-way street. Companies primarily exist to serve customers, who are an invaluable resource for identifying strengths and opportunities for improvement. At Ultimate, our customers are directly involved in our user experience and design testing, and more than 1,500 customer ideas have been incorporated into UltiPro to date.
The most successful customer onboarding campaigns rapidly deliver value, empower users, and evolve alongside the product. They build relationships, inspire creativity, and forge an emotional connection between a company’s customers and its products—and that’s worth investing in.