Dos and Don'ts for Customer Onboarding

is to make sure your client uses your product or service to its fullest potential. You've made the sale; now you need to provide the value.

Keep engaged. It's crucial that even after the sales process is concluded, the customer is kept engaged. Marketers can play a pivotal role during this transition, pointing out any product user groups, support communities, or other social outlets. Sharing early-stage customer success stories can be extremely useful in helping the customer get up to speed more quickly.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Although your customer will have likely been onboarded as a new client before, he is well aware that every company works differently. Make sure to communicate effectively and loudly throughout the process. Don't be afraid to hold your customer's hand until he finds his feet.

This last point is somewhat related to the first, as it's important that any new customer feels she has a solid touchpoint within your organization. If you have the resources, make sure someone is assigned to that account and is able to react to the customer's needs, provide her with information, and offer guidance where possible. This helps guide the relationship through any difficult times ahead.

Equally as important, what makes a poor onboarding process?

It might seem obvious that the answer is the opposite of every point above, but it's surprising just how many companies get it wrong. People undercommunicate; they don't have any clear process or point person for the customer; and they neglect to properly engage her at the earliest stage. However, there are some key mistakes, that, if avoided, can make your life—and those of your customers—much easier in the long run.

Don't make false promises. Don't offer anything you know you can't—or may not be able to—deliver. Product or service kinks and problems do happen, so you should always build contingencies into your plans with the customer. Make him aware that for any project or process, you have some slack time in case anything crops up. The old mantra of underpromising and overdelivering still applies in many situations.

Don't leave customers hanging. Respond quickly. Do not leave any customer waiting if possible. This is crucial for building trust in the relationship.

Don't ignore analytics. Don't treat analytics as a nice-to-have commodity. They are essential. If you want to display results to your customers, make sure they know your KPIs for them, ensuring buy-in from customers on these before you begin any project.

Getting it right the first time

Getting on the same page with your new customer as quickly as possible sets the tone for a positive, responsive relationship. Establishing and following a formal client onboarding process will help ensure your engagements get off on the right foot and that everyone is positioned for success.

Cliff Pollan is founder and CEO at Postwire.

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