Lucy Manole
November 02, 2022

INSIGHTS ARTICLE: Marketing Digest - 4 Ways to Create a Powerful Client Onboarding Program

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4 Ways to Create a Powerful Client Onboarding Program

You closed on 5 important customers in the last month and now it’s time to onboard and integrate them into the system. Onboarding new customers is a process -- one of the most crucial ones in the customer lifecycle.


Well, the client onboarding process sets the tone for the rest of their experience. Imagine a customer signed up for your product, paid in advance for the first month and is now logging in to your app/web app/website.

They are onboarded without any prior instructions or understanding of the product which might make them feel completely lost and confused. Or they are onboarded with personalized greetings, how-tos, and step-by-step instructions making them feel welcomed and informed.

Which experience would you rather your customers have? The confused one or the informed one?

The informed one, right?

The onboarding process gives your customers an understanding of what to expect from you and your products. So, it’s essential that they don’t feel lost or confused trying your product or app for the very first time. This process also has a direct impact on your company’s bottom line since it’s a major contributing factor to the longevity of your customers’ average life cycle and lifetime value. The shorter they stay with you, the lesser they spend with you -- it is as simple as that.

So, let’s get into the depths of the customer onboarding process and the ways to create a powerful one. 

Client Onboarding Process - An Overview

The customer onboarding process is relevant and important for almost every industry -- from tech to banking, from retail to service. 

The onboarding process is the first stage of the customer journey where they are introduced to your products/services/apps. This process is a series of steps your customers go through to set up your product according to their usage. From the initial sign-up, account activation, and profile settings to first use - everything comes under the customer onboarding process.

[Customer onboarding example for an eCommerce app]

This process will define the nature of the relationship between your customers and your products. So, it’s quite important that they have a positive and informed experience.

Most organizations make the mistake of making the onboarding about teaching how to use the products. 

No doubt, it is about teaching how to use the products but it is also much more than that. Setting the context right for them, learning about their goals and their requirements, and adding more value to the onboarding process accordingly will help you create an unforgettable onboarding process.

The end goal of having a customer onboarding process is to make your customers come back to you -- over and over again. With a proper client onboarding process in place, you will be able to improve your customer retention rates, help your customers understand your product in-depth, and solve their queries hands-on.

Now that we’ve established a proper understanding of the client onboarding process and its importance, let’s jump to the main part - how to create a powerful onboarding process.

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Before creating an onboarding program, make sure to have an in-depth understanding of your product along with the pain points you aim at solving with your product. The key to creating a powerful onboarding process is to find the middle ground where your product and your customers’ needs meet.

An onboarding process centered around your customers, their pain points and their needs with necessary technical details will always win over an onboarding process stuffed with only technical details.

So, how do you achieve this balance? By following the below-mentioned ways:

Setting the Right Goals

A good, executable plan always starts with setting the right goals - goals that are achievable, measurable, and scalable.

Before starting to create your customer onboarding program, you will need to define the ideal onboarding experience for your customers. Put yourself in their shoes and note down their needs and expectations. 

Now take a new note and jot down the features, and sub-features they need to understand and if your product is too complex, categorize the features based on their importance.

It’s okay to not include every feature in the onboarding process. You can focus on the main features during onboarding and leave the rest to your customers as they explore your product. But make sure to design and deploy content for all the features either in your user manual or as an option along with the feature in the app.

The customer onboarding process is an ever-evolving process. Once you’ve created and implemented that process, make sure to study your product’s analytics to understand how your customers are using your product and where & why they are existing your product.

Using Buyers’ Personas

Another tried-and-tested way to go about creating a customer onboarding program is to create a detailed buyers persona of your target audience.

Buyers’ persona provides an in-depth understanding of your customers, their day-to-day activities, their demographics & psychological information and their needs. 

Based on this information, you will be able to anticipate your customers’ expectations from your product and its usage which would help you prioritize the features to include in your onboarding process.

Here are a few tips on creating buyers’ persona:

  • Include work-related parameters like designation, day-to-day responsibilities, pain points, etc.
  • Include behavioral drivers, obstacles to purchasing, mindset, etc.
  • Conduct customer surveys
  • Do a focus group of your ideal customers
  • Integrate surveys at different touchpoints on your website

Key Customer Touchpoints

To have a good understanding of customer touchpoints, you’ll need to create buyers’ persona and map their journey in your app/product. It’s called a user experience map which would help you get a better understanding of their interactions inside your product.

Based on the experience map, you can start creating content like welcome emails, educational how-to tutorials, step-by-step guides, user manuals, in-app tips, and more.

The process of creating content for the smallest of user interaction can be long and excruciating which is why you can prioritize based on the main interaction points like sign up, top 3-5 features, profile settings, personalization (for example, choosing genres in Netflix), etc.

Make the onboarding process a little fun by sprinkling some humor, pop culture and personal anecdotes throughout the content. Also, try different formats of content like videos, emails, in-app notifications, in-app tours, knowledge base, etc.

Finding the Right Tool

In the above three points, we explored the planning part of creating a welcoming customer onboarding program.

Now we are going to focus on the executing part.

Let’s say you have the product designs, UI copies, user experience map, emails, and everything else ready. The next step would be to select the right tools to automate the customer onboarding process.

For example, choosing a good email automation platform like Mailchimp or Saleshandy would enable you to automate the welcome emails, newsletters, and product update emails for all your customers - new as well as old.

Similarly, there are various in-app messengers like Intercom that allow you to automate in-app messages to guide your new users. And digital adoption platforms like Apty allow you to create a holistic experience for your customers with live chats, in-app walkthroughs, surveys, and more.

Finding the right tool for your customer onboarding process is as important as the onboarding process itself. It is similar to how your team would use the product management tool to take care of your key business offerings. Conduct thorough research and define your goals before choosing one.

Remember: Onboarding is about customers and not the product

We know we already mentioned it, but it’s the key to creating a powerful client onboarding program -- your customers, their needs and expectations. 

Also, make sure to keep evolving your onboarding process based on your customers’ behaviour, their interaction and their feedback. It is also important to note that onboarding doesn’t end at the first stage of customer life cycle. With every product update, you’ll need to update your onboarding process. 

You will also need to pay attention to the parts in your product causing friction for your customers. Ideally you will need to include instructional walk-thoughs or how-tos or tool tips to make it easier for your customers.

All-in-all create an onboarding process that is evolving, scalable and customer-centric.

Author Bio

Lucy Manole is a creative content writer and strategist at Marketing Digest. She specializes in writing about digital marketing, technology, entrepreneurship, and education. When she is not writing or editing, she spends time reading books, cooking, and traveling.



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