Onboarding is often the missing stage of the customer journey — “underfunded and overlooked,” according to Arke VP of Strategy Margaret Wise explained.

“A lot of companies are still very focused on spending on the awareness and acquisition phase. They spend less so on the success of the customer with the product or service, which is what’s required to get a person to remain a customer,” Wise said.

“That means they get out their spending out of whack. They spend a lot of money on the top of the funnel, but they’re losing customers out of the bottom of the funnel even faster than they get them in through the top.”

Onboarding Is Critical

Margaret Wise

Margaret Wise

Attentive onboarding helps customers achieve their desired outcome. It also helps companies retain the customers they spend so much to acquire.

“Think about the wow moments,” Wise said. To wow customers, businesses have to provide memorable experiences — and design them to be efficient, convenient, and frictionless.

Wise made her comments during a recent webinar with James Scott, general partner of SuccessHACKER, Onboarding: The Missing Journey.  “Businesses have to understand the whole customer journey, and then highlight moments within that journey where they can wow their customers.”

Wise explained how MarTech systems can be used more strategically, as well as linked to improved customer engagement. Businesses need to optimize their MarTech stacks to provide the best experiences. They also need to put themselves in the shoes of their prospects and customers, she added.

“It’s the best way to build empathy and deepen relationships with your customers,” she said.

Onboarding Supports Customer Advocacy

Companies need to change their perspectives to gain better insights on what their customers experience. That means asking some direct questions:

  • How likely are your customers to recommend you?
  • How easy is it to do business with your company?
  • What kind of emotional effort is required to do business with your company?
  • What’s the physical effort to do business with your company?
  • What’s the time, effort to do business with your company?

“Those are the components that can really make the difference from a customer saying, ‘Yeah, that company is good’ to saying, ‘Oh my gosh! That company is fantastic. You really have to check it out because I just had the most amazing experience.'”

How can you understand what your customers’ experience? Wise suggested three things.

  1. Pick up the phone and call your customer. Ask them for their honest feedback.
  2. Go through the process of how someone finds out about your company. How can that person get more information about you? Would they call or send an email? How long would it take for them to receive a response? What is the process if they want even more information?
  3. Evaluate the ease of doing business with your company. Are there tons of contracts that have to be signed? Do they have to sign, scan, and return them or do you have an easy e-signature process for them? Do you appreciate their business, and show it?

Keep the Conversation Going

It’s all about follow-through, Wise said. “It’s continuing that sense of urgency from the time a person commits to buying from you through the initial use of your product or service.”

Think about your communications with the customer through the onboarding and initial use stages.

Focus on valuable communications that address the use of your product or common questions. Don’t inundate the customer with requests to buy something else, she said.

Once you understand how it feels to be a customer, look from yet another perspective. She asked:

“How does it feel like to be a piece of data moving through your organization? When someone contacts your company, do they sending a contact form to your website? Are customers calling a phone number and leaving messages — and, if so, who responds to those calls?

“Where does that data go? If the contact request comes across as an email, at what point does that email get into a system where it’s tracked? What’s the lag time of that process?” she asked.

Collect the Right Data

Your data collection is critical.

Make sure it’s automated or that you establish workflow rules around it to ensure that the right data is directed to the right person. Have workflow rules to ensure that contacts are receiving responses in a timely manner.

“You always want to think about adding value and efficiency to your processes to create better experiences for your customers,” Wise said.

Wise said she typically references a journey map template to break experiences down between people, process, data, technology, and content. She aligns these with moments across the journey stages: Awareness, Nurture, Conversion, Retention, and Advocacy.

“Once we outline the journey, we can often identify where things might be falling through the cracks. We can also find where we have the opportunity to create wow moments and really surprise and delight our customers.”

“And throughout the process, always look for ways to create opportunities to drive customer advocacy.”

Want to learn more about best practices for retaining your customers? Email Arke VP Margaret Wise for more information.

About Arke

Atlanta-based Arke develops strategies and implements digital technologies for better brand experience for your customers.