Starting a new project is always exciting. But with a new project come, new people, different individuals, and you have to adapt, giving them the same warm welcome every time. Onboarding is the most important step in building long-term relationships and keeping your customer retention rates high, so let's talk about the most important steps to building the greatest onboarding process.
To dive deeper into the details, we need to understand the basic science behind onboarding.
To understand and get comfortable with the product — those are two basic things your customer should achieve if you've done a successful onboarding.
Humans are designed this way: we don't work with something we don't trust and understand. Don't trust and understand = not comfortable. Not comfortable = no cooperation. That's why the process of onboarding is very important.
Enough with the boring stuff! Let's talk about real things you should put all of your precious time and attention to because they are well worth it.
Understand Your Industry
No matter what field you're hunting in, you want to understand every bit of it. Grasping the core of your industry will help you to build a better experience for your customers and cater to their needs accordingly. If you are new to the industry, research is the way to go, and it may prove to be beneficial for battle-scarred individuals as well — from time to time.
Understand Your Customer
The best onboarding begins way before the first message. Turn to your customer persona (or create one), and make sure to know it inside and out: there are certain patterns and pain points that all of your customers will share. Understanding the core needs of your prospect is one of the most powerful skills there are, and you don't want to miss this one!
Give Them a Kickoff Meeting That Kicks
It is a very important step to connecting with your customer, so don't you dare to skip it! The route to the client's heart lies through communication, it's like a golden rule, remember this one. Be the best, shine bright like a diamond, and don't forget to smile and ask questions: show that you are engaged and interested both in conversation and
Formal or Informal?
From the very first message, you want to stay as friendly as possible: but be aware that some people want to stay formal throughout the whole process. The best practice, in this case, would be a good-old adaptation, see how they communicate, and tune your tone in the same way, and you will be on the same page with the customer.
Value Comes First
Whatever it is you might be selling, your customer is seeking only one thing — value. Think of it this way: you're in the market for a toaster. Do you want it just to have it, or to have toasts every morning? Right, the latter. You are seeking value, and that's what you want to offer to your customers. Every conversation has to be about them, not you. You must show them what your product will change in their lives, and how it will make it easier. Remember this point, as it is the most important in the whole sales process.
You always want to have the main communication channel, and a few backup ones, in case something happens, or one of them fails. Being always on track with your client is a very big plus, they will remember that for sure, as good communication is valued as much as good skill in what you do!
Use a Questionnaire
Instead of asking every question personally, you may want to come up with a questionnaire that the customer can fill out whenever they are ready. It will save time for both you and them, and you won't forget to ask anything! We have a design questionnaire, for example. and it helps to optimize the process tremendously. Not only it helps our design team to fully understand what the customer wants to see, but it also helps to collect some useful data like where was the first place they saw Movadex. Don't abuse this, though, questions have to be relevant and both easy to understand and to answer.
Make Sure to Follow Up
Follow-ups are close to art. Only a few know when to send one. The general rule here would be to keep a close connection with your client and update them on any new stuff that comes up, or just to know if everything is all right, whether everything is just as they wanted. Remember, follow-ups are essential for good communication, and they show that you truly care about what you do, and about the client personally.
You can't build a successful project without proper organization: everything has to be clear, especially expectations. Both sides have to be fully informed about their respective responsibilities, and there are a lot of tools that can help you with that. If you work in a sprint model, it is even easier, because organization is at the core of Agile, so you must know everything about it. And by the way, if your team is not Agile-trained, you must do that: it saves you a lot of time and mental health. Learn more about it in our blog post here.
Ask For Feedback
Feedback is the most powerful tool that will help you fine-tune the project into the exact shape that the client initially wanted it to be, and it helps you to stay on the right track. Moreover, it simply enables you to always be aware of any small mistakes here and there, instantly getting rid of them. It's always great to do that on the go because these small issues pile up.
You have to be prepared for any outcomes that lie ahead. All projects and clients are different, so your best choice would be to hope for the better, but be prepared for the worst: it is never a bad thing. It doesn't mean that something will inevitably go wrong, but you have to stay vigilant nonetheless, and if any setbacks happen, be quick to try and resolve them.
Is There More?
Of course. But the most valuable advice I can give you is to go out there and start getting your own experiences, working on your ways to get customers a warm welcome. In reality, you should always take everything with a grain of salt, and look at what your experience tells you: but never shut the doors for some advice! Ask your colleagues who are a few years ahead of you, and listen to what they have to say: chances are their stories contain much valuable information for your current client.