Dos and Don'ts for Customer Onboarding

Quality customer onboarding plays a critical role in the early stages of the customer life cycle. According to Sirius Decisions, the most memorable part of a customer's experience with a company is either the exceptional or regrettable welcoming process. No matter what type of organization you are, this fact should get your attention.

As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Ensuring the onboarding process is on target at the outset can mean the difference between success and failure, not just for your customers, but also for your organization's relationship with those customers—which ultimately can have a direct impact on your bottom line.

What makes a good onboarding process?

Onboarding, in its simplest sense, refers to the mechanism through which new clients acquire the necessary skills, knowledge, and behaviors to become effective organizational members and insiders.

The onboarding process has to start from the moment you begin a dialogue with a potential customer. Before engaging, you need to know as much as you can about that customer, but just as importantly, the customer needs to know about you.

This usually results in a great amount of information passing back and forth—which can translate into frustration, wasted time, and potentially be a deal breaker if communications are not clear and the process is not smooth. Following are simple ways you can address this, as well as some of the wider problems many organizations face during the onboarding process.

Know who owns everything. Knowing exactly who in the organization owns not just the process, but any specific elements of it, is vital. Where do you find the appropriate documents, who is making the decision on how you qualify customers, and what is the right process for taking them through the stages of the process, before and after an agreement is reached? These are all questions you need to be able to answer, especially in smaller organizations.

Clear hand-off points are important as well, especially in larger organizations—don't let customers fall through the cracks!

Get your welcome right. When and how does your customer want to interact with you? What is he or she interested in? The onboarding process is a great time to find answers to these questions and welcome new customers the right way.

This is the point where you want to confirm your immediate goals, and agree what it takes to become successful. If possible, have a face-to-face meeting. Even virtual face-to-face meetings go a long way toward building relationships and earning trust. The goal 

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