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  • AMi Direct

AMiable Solution #428: Understanding the Customer Onboarding Process

For too many companies, the customer journey begins with a marketing campaign and ends with a sale. What should come after the sale and why it’s important?

While most of us spend the majority of our time getting customers to think about and purchase our products or services, not everyone thinks about that crucial next step: walking those customers through their use.

If the customer already identified the product or service as the solution to a need, is it really necessary to go any further that down road?

Absolutely. Here’s why.

Consider the humble frozen pie. Advertisements will lead you to believe that there’s no easier way to have access to a hot and delicious pie—any time—than with a frozen pie. True, frozen pies offer the convenience of having any flavor you want any time, without worrying about having to bake one from scratch or eat a fresh, store-bought one before it goes bad. But what most consumers don’t readily think about is the work you have to put into the pie once you get it home.

Heating a frozen pie surely isn’t complicated, but not everyone wants to wait for the oven to warm up and then another 45 or 60 minutes to thoroughly heat it. Some people want results now. Some people don’t have the resources or tools necessary—say an oven at a campsite—when they need them.

Preparing your customers ahead of time—identifying prerequisites and work involved—helps your customer make a more informed buying decision ahead of time, but it also makes for a smoother transition afterward. Known as “customer onboarding,” it’s simply the process of helping your customer understand his/her new purchase and how to get the most benefit from it.

But the onboarding process is also a critical introduction of your company to your customer. This is where expectations are set and met. This is the next step on the customer experience journey. It needs to be a smooth one.

Helping your customers transition from buyers to users will depend on your industry, your product, your service, the complexity of your product, etc. It can be as simple as a short set of instructions—preheat the oven, remove pie from package, and place on a baking sheet—or as complicated as installing and understanding a piece of equipment or software. Whatever form it takes, clear communication is key:

· Product guides

· Video tutorials

· Welcome emails

· Detailed, step-by-step instructions for installation and use

· Easy access to customer support

· Acknowledgements on successfully completed steps

· Follow-up emails

· Examples

· Product walk-throughs

Customers who successfully onboard not only become happier with their purchases. They’re also more likely to trust your brand and recommend your company to others. Easy as pie.

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