Customer Onboarding Featured image

8 Best Practices For Effective Customer Onboarding

In business, very little matters more than delighting customers. That’s because our clients and customers are the sources of all business sustainability and success. No clients, no business. And so companies need to create better experiences for their customers.  So what companies need to figure out more to delight, win, and retain customers is to figure out an effective customer onboarding journey. 

And where most businesses fail when trying to delight their customers is in customer onboarding. This step is basically the process of orienting your customer to your product, services, or processes. One would think that this would be a given for any company, but 90% of customers think that companies can do a better job at onboarding clients.

Customer Onboarding Template

Why does Effective Customer Onboarding Matter?

Think of this scenario—you buy a cellphone from a store. Then after you pay for the product and get the receipt, the salesman just pushes you out the door without explaining the features, warranty, terms, and so on. Would you think of that as a good business practice? 

Still, it’s equally ironic how many businesses don’t have a customer onboarding strategy. Or when they do, it can be quite inadequate. Why does effective onboarding matter? Three simple reasons:

  • Customer delight — The customer’s pleasant experience with a business is a powerful resource. It brings more referrals and ensures that clients stay loyal to your brand longer, which then leads to…
  • Customer retention — It costs 5 to 25 times more to gain a new customer than to retain one. So it makes sense to keep old clients and find ways to make them come back again and again. When we onboard clients properly, we increase the chance that they stay with your brand because they understand every aspect of your product or service. 
  • Customer evangelism — What this basically means is you equip your customers to teach and tell others about your product or service. Savvy customers are greatly extended salespeople for your brand.

Extra resource: Customer Onboarding Framework for B2B SaaS

Best Practices for Effective Customer Onboarding

Onboarding best practices

So let’s get down to business. What are the best practices for effective customer onboarding? Here are eight tips for you to follow to improve onboarding experiences with your brand.

1. Create a clear roadmap for your clients

The first step is to make a clear journey for your clients to go through. Nothing could be more discouraging during the onboarding process than a sense of uncertainty because your client doesn’t know what the next step will be. Have a planned-out experience for your clients. 

Here’s a simple example of a client onboarding roadmap:

Select the product -> Product orientation -> Discuss warranty -> Sign contract -> Turn over product -> Get feedback

Of course, there are hundreds of possible roadmaps. Create a customer onboarding checklist so that clients know what the onboarding experience will be. Using the right CRM for retailers is a great idea to paint a better picture of the onboarding journey.

2. Understand the customer’s needs

If your clients have ever felt an emotional disconnect during onboarding, it might be because you’re not really listening to them. It’s crucial that businesses understand their customers’ needs and pain points. Listen to what parts of your onboarding they don’t get and which ones are confusing to them. Then focus on either improving the experience in that aspect or simplifying the corresponding explanation for that part. For instance, if clients don’t understand how to activate their account on a SaaS product, you might need to provide a step-by-step process there.

Suggested Read: Customer Onboarding Guide

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3. Set expectations and milestones

Even before a client starts using a product or service, it’s a good idea to pre-frame their expectations. That way, you get a good sense of what they want to do with your offering and paint a better picture as to what you will actually provide them with. This tip works wonders for agencies as their relationships with their clients often suffer because of some misunderstood expectations on deliverables, results, and so on.

4. Have a problem-solving mindset

Not all things will go well during the onboarding journey. Albeit, you can follow the customer onboarding template but still miss out on some things due to some contextual differences with your client. Maybe your customer’s address is out of your 3PL provider’s reach or the service they’re trying to avail of isn’t the one they needed. In cases like these, it helps to have a problem-solving mindset. Don’t just go by the book. Think outside of the box to help your clients find an easy and replicable solution.

5. Automate repetitive processes

Creating a customer onboarding framework that’s repeatable is one of the best ways to streamline an onboarding process. Having to wing an onboarding every single time can waste both the company’s and the client’s time. So automate parts that can be automated. One great way to do that is to pre-record the parts that are pretty straightforward. That’s a great solution considering that 97% of people believe that video is a great way to onboard new customers. 

You might also want to consider using an email sequence to send a set of instructions to onboarded customers. That email sequence can then drip instructions, follow-ups, surveys, and upsells across a pre-set period. But don’t forget to keep a line open for any special requests or questions. 

6. Follow up after onboarding

The key to increasing customer lifetime value is creating long-term relationships. Too many businesses leave money on the table by failing to follow up after every onboarding process. After a certain time when a client is able to use a product or the full benefits of a service, send them an email or even a phone call to check on how they’re doing. 

Genuinely find areas where you can add value by showing them other ways they can maximize your service or making helpful suggestions. Don’t just do it for the sake of the sale. Do it because you really care about your clients and want them to experience the full benefit of your service. By doing that, you increase your chances of creating a long-term relationship with your client.

7. Continually assess your client’s needs

The customer learning phase doesn’t stop at customer acquisition. Clients are multi-faceted individuals with all kinds of hopes, dreams, aspirations, and pain points. Try to understand your client more even after they sign with you. You just might be surprised at how much you can learn from a client if you truly take the time to assess all their needs. The experience could give a whole lot of insight into other possible offerings that your business could provide to your ideal clients.

8. Improve, improve, improve

After onboarding and assessing, use the data and information that you gather to improve your processes and systems. There’s no such thing as a final output when it comes to onboarding processes. Journeys can change and we can improve our systems as time goes on. Don’t make the onboarding journey a one-way communication. Try to listen to your client’s needs too and implement any actionable improvements. 

Customer onboarding: It’s just the beginning

Many businesses think of customer onboarding as the end of the relationship with the client. But it’s actually not. It could just be the start of a long and mutual relationship with a client who will be a valued member of your community for years to come. Businesses that thrive through all seasons are those that put a premium on creating these strong bonds with clients over stretches at a time. So don’t miss out on the opportunity to do that during onboarding because it’s just the start.

P.S. – The main image has been taken from

Swagata is Head of Marketing at CustomerSuccessBox. Advocate for great customer experience. She is an avid traveler and when she is not working always on the lookout for new places to explore.