Your company has an awesome service. Your existing clients are, hopefully, “happy campers.” Why? Because your onboarding experience is unique, flawless, and responsive to each client’s needs. The transition from onboarding to “satisfied long-term client” is smooth, leaving the client with the sense that their business is better because of the successful and ongoing relationship you have facilitated.
Getting a new client to say “YES” is just the beginning
If the next steps in building the client relationship fail to create confidence and trust, buyer’s remorse may be knocking at your door. It’s easy to think that buyer’s remorse is about the purchase of a car, a house, or a designer purse or outfit on a now regrettable whim.
But a new corporate client can experience the same type of regret or remorse. It’s important to remember that the person who agreed to this new arrangement put their assessment of the value of your services on the line with their higher-ups. If the onboarding experience they receive after signing on the dotted line does not live up to their expectations, they can start having doubts about their decision.
Most businesses need to reach two key milestones before a customer can achieve their full value potential:
- The moment they sign up for your service
- The moment they achieve their first “success” with your service
The onboarding experience should be flawless. As a company offering a valuable service, you must reinforce that value to the new client every step of the way. Your business may have the best marketing and sales team in the corporate universe, but if there are hiccups in the onboarding experience, the relationship can become incrementally difficult to build or maintain.
Client Satisfaction = Client Retention
Let’s break down the relationship-building process of onboarding into four easy-to-remember “A’s.”
- Affirm their decision
- Activate their loyalty
- Acclimate them to your business
- Accomplish their goals together
To affirm the client’s decision to do business with your company, acknowledge that they are unique and that you will address their specific issues. As part of the onboarding process, it’s essential that they understand that they are being heard. The client must feel that they have made a choice that will enhance their business, that their experience will be responsive to their needs, that they will see a measurable return on their investment by working with you, that they are a priority, and that their goals are your goals.
What will a successful onboarding experience mean for your business? Client satisfaction, client retention, new client referrals.
The Value of Education as Part of the Onboarding Experience
Remember, onboarding isn’t about sharing everything—it’s about integrating your services into the client’s business quickly and smoothly. You have partnered with a client company, but you will be onboarding actual people. Your people and resources will work with their people, integrating your expertise into their existing business. Consider the following steps in building this new client relationship:
Begin the onboarding experience by sharing a robust and personalized “plan for success” with the client.
The plan should include the steps involved in the onboarding process and a clear timeline from start to full integration. The plan will reinforce the expertise that you bring to the partnership and will go a long way toward relieving “onboarding anxiety.” Additionally, the plan should go over how you will address their issues and goals during the process.
Personalize the onboarding experience.
Introduce your team of onboarding specialists to the client. Designate a specific member of the team as the client’s primary contact for questions and support. This is similar to a bank assigning a “personal banker” to a customer.
Use videos as an educational tool.
It’s important to remember that different people learn in different ways. Videos can be useful in a couple of ways. First, the client/employee may learn more effectively by watching a video than by reading a checklist or user manual. Additionally, videos can be watched multiple times and be available to the client without having to go through “customer service.”
Give the client access to their own administrative functions.
This can prevent the extra step of having to initiate contact with customer service and wait for a response. Make it easy for the client to find the answer on their own. Every time they are able to easily take care of something on their own, their confidence in your product increases. However, it’s essential to make the experience user-friendly. If you can monitor their activity and sense that they may be having an issue, your ability to intervene and assist them will be appreciated. You can accomplish this with an easily accessible “CHAT” option.
Follow-Up and Feedback
Businesses sign up for change; employees (real people) implement change.
- Follow-up: Check in with the client on a regular basis. This will go a long way in solidifying the relationship and building trust. You can mix up your “check-ins” by using phone calls, emails, or video conferences. Consider sharing a bit of industry humor.
- Feedback: Listen to the client’s ideas about how the onboarding experience might have been “even better.” Acknowledge that their observations and ideas are an important part of your company’s ongoing quality improvement. After they have been using your service for a while, ask them about how the relationship has saved time, increased revenue, and helped them reach their goals.
Onboarding and Ongoing Support
The onboarding process should be a mutually beneficial experience. The client needs to understand and believe that:
- They have entered into a joint partnership
- You value the relationship
- You understand that their level of satisfaction with you and the service is integral to their success as well as the growth of your business
You never want the client to feel that they are on their own. They should feel confident that they are an ongoing priority based on your ongoing support.
Be proactive. Anticipate the client’s needs. Your team has the advantage of having worked with many clients before. As a result, your onboarding process has continually improved. Proactive and ongoing support will enhance the client’s perception that the onboarding process is seamless.
When you feel that the client is “fully on board” and satisfied with the joint partnership they have entered, ask if they would be willing to provide a testimonial for your website. Testimonials can be a short written endorsement or even a video endorsement.
And Voila! You have added the client to your marketing team. A mutually beneficial success story!
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