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Onboarding Journey: 9 Simple Steps To Attract Lifelong Customers 

By  Jack

Ever consider revamping your onboarding journey for new customers and clients?

Once you land a new client or customer, what do you do next? How do you keep them around for the long haul?

Designing an effective customer onboarding sequence can sometimes feel time-consuming and overwhelming, but it’s definitely worth your time and effort. 

If done correctly, you’ll attract lifelong customers and massively improve retention, acquisition cost and customer lifetime value.

In this blog post, we’ll go over how to properly onboard new customers and keep them forever with a world-class post-sale process.

Onboarding Journey: Why It’s So Critical

The goal of customer onboarding is simple: to build a relationship and help new customers get the most out of your product or service.

It’s the first impression customers have of your company: how you engage with customers post-sale can set the tone for the rest of the relationship.

Remember this: what you do after the sale is more important than what you do to get the sale in the first place.

In virtually every business, the real money is not made in the initial sale. It’s through backend follow-up sales to existing customers.

An excellent customer onboarding sequence leads to:

Your onboarding journey can reassure customers that they made a wise purchasing decision and is a great opportunity to create an emotional bond.

Here are a few stats to drive this home:

Create Raving Fans and Lifelong Customers

Almost every industry is gradually being turned into a commodity these days.

The last thing you want is to be in a race to the bottom on price. If you do business like everyone else, you can expect the same results. Or you can go the extra mile, be unique and create raving fans.

Walt Disney was a great example we can look to for inspiration. Walt famously said, “do what you do so well that people can’t resist telling others about you.”

This extra attention to detail makes all the difference.

Walt Disney himself literally used to sit on a bench and watch the visitors of his park, counting the steps of those looking for a place to throw out their garbage. He counted 30 steps on average.

30 steps is STILL the distance between every trash can in Disney. As you know if you’ve ever been to the parks, it’s incredibly rare to ever see a piece of garbage on the ground.

When you go to Disney World, you’re not just buying a ticket to a theme park. You’re buying memories. They do everything they can to create the “Disney Experience.” It’s the little things that make up a top-notch experience. 

Think about how you can change a sales transaction into an emotional and memorable experience.

What can you do to turn what you do from a commodity into an experience?

What can you do that will cause your clients to want to immediately tell someone else about you?

You can’t do this by just doing what’s expected. That’s table stakes.

You have to give customers an experience they didn’t expect…do something special that makes them talk about you.

What makes you unique? Why should your customers leave you a positive review or refer others to you instead of one of your competitors?

How will you “wow” your clients with an experience they have to tell their friends and family about?

Create Raving Fans and Lifelong Customers

Best Practices for Onboarding New Clients and Customers

The good news is that wowing your customers this does not have to be time consuming or expensive. Let’s cover some best practices to get you started.

First Impressions Matter – Make Them Count

When a prospect becomes a paying customer, they will have specific ideas and expectations about what that means and what level of service they should receive. It’s crucial to not only meet but exceed those expectations from the very beginning.

This starts with a great first impression. The customer should feel like they made the right decision in choosing your company and that you are invested in their success.

This can be done through consistent communication, overdelivering, and offering discounts on future services. By making sure the customer feels valued from the start, you are more likely to retain them long term.

Simplicity is Key

A core element of a great onboarding experience is keeping it simple. No one likes feeling overwhelmed, so don’t try to cram too much into the process. Start with the essentials and try not to make your customers have to think too much.

Think about what information your customers need to get started and make that the focus of your onboarding journey. Once they’re up and running, you can introduce them to other features and benefits in a more gradual way.

Your customers should always know what’s going on, what’s expected of them, and how to get help if they need it.

There’s nothing worse than feeling lost or confused, so do your best to make the onboarding process as easy to follow as possible.

Help Your Customers Get an Early Win

It’s important to set your customers up for success from the start. One great way to do this is helping them achieve an “early win” with your product or service.

This “early win” will vary by business, but the momentum will lead to increased engagement with your product or service, and boost the likelihood that they’ll become a loyal customer.

Personally Follow Up After Each Sale

It always surprises me that so few businesses do this, as this strategy is wildly effective and can be used by businesses of any size. One way to have people know, like and trust you is to expend an extra bit of effort after each sale.

We’ll get into detailed tactical steps later on, but let’s walk through an example.

After each sale, have someone in your business call each customer and check in regarding how they are liking the product or service.

  • Are they happy?
  • Do they have any questions?
  • Is there anything you can help them with around their experience?

Next, send a brief thank you letter to them a week later (real mail works far better than email).

This sort of communication creates raving customers who refer their friends and ultimately purchase more from you. Just from a bit of extra effort.

Keep Up The Personal Touch

Even if you have hundreds or thousands of customers, its vital to maintain a personal touch with each customer. Customers want to feel like they are working with real people who care about their success – not just an anonymous company.

Make sure you have someone from your team responsible for managing ongoing customer communications. This person should be available to answer questions, give updates, and address any concerns that come up along the way.

By ensuring that there is always someone available to help, you can foster a sense of trust and confidence with your customers.

Your customers don’t want to be just another number or invoice. They want to know that that they matter to you as much as you matter to them. 

The more we can speak to them as individuals, the more they know that we care about them and will want to do business with us.

Map out the Customer Journey

Be very intentional around which touchpoints do you want to include. What actions do you want customers to take? By mapping out the journey, you can ensure that each step is deliberate and purposeful. 

The key is systematically building in small gestures that show you really care. Don’t let this fall to chance – it should be done every time, not occasionally. These small actions build massive goodwill.

Set up a system that your employees follow to show appreciation to every client. Make them feel like the most important client in the world.

To the customer, this will appear to be spontaneous, but you’ve carefully architected it behind the scenes.

Onboarding Journey: 9 Steps to Create Lifelong Customers

I want you to consider engineering a post-sale onboarding process that every customer goes through during their first 30 – 90 days.

Your goal during this initial period should to cultivate lots of positive touchpoints to build trust and rapport.

One way to ensure this happens consistently is by setting up an automated process flow in addition to personal touchpoints.

I’m going to walk through a 9 step process that you can replicate. Feel free to adapt this to fit your own business – you’ll quickly pick up on the major themes.

1. Thank You Email – Sent Immediately After Order 

For the initial communication:

  • Reassure them they made a good purchase decision, show you care about their success, and that you’ll help them get great results 
  • Educate them about what they just purchased (set expectations and share directions around how to use the product)
  • Restate all the positive benefits they’ll receive
  • Let them know they have a customer concierge available to answer any questions, solve problems and handle any of their concerns (the perception of “customer concierge” sounds far better than “customer service”)

2. Immediately After Receiving Order (ideally within the next day): Send customer personalized letter in the mail

This will allow you to dramatically stand out from your competition, as its exceedingly rare for any business to do this.

This letter should can be a simple welcome letter and express gratitude to have them as a new customer. Similar to the email, this will assure them they made a good choice to purchase and prevent buyers remorse.

We want this letter to stick out from junk mail (higher likelihood that it gets read) so I recommend using a handwritten address with a colored envelope.

3. Day 1 After Order – Phone Call from Concierge

This is a low pressure touchpoint just to check in and welcome them.

You (or someone on your team) can ask about how your product or service is working for them, ask if they have any concerns, or just ask them how they are doing. Can you help them get an “early win” with your product or service?

I think these calls work better being unscripted (comes off more genuine). The key is not to sell at all on these calls, it’s simply to show them you care about them as a customer and make them feel appreciated.

Any personal details you learn about the customer should be written down in your CRM.

4. Day 5 After Order – Give a Surprise Unannounced Bonus

Think about an inexpensive gift that has high perceived value that you could surprise new customers with. This could be any sort of free gift: gift certificate, free product, bonus, discount, etc.

Every business could find a way to give some type of free gift to new customers to show their appreciation. This sort of technique does not require much in terms of investment but does wonders for customer satisfaction.

5. Day 15 After Order – Phone Call #2 from Concierge

Another positive, quick touchpoint to check in and see how things are going.

Answer any questions, and show them you care. If you don’t reach them live, a voicemail can accomplish the same goal.

6. Day 25 After Order – Another Surprise Free Bonus 

Another high value, inexpensive gift that your customers are not expecting.

7. Day 30 After Order – Upsell Opportunity

Make an upsell offer that’s exclusive to them as a VIP customer. This should include preferential pricing and terms that the general public can’t get.

You could consider giving them exclusive access or perks that others can’t get a hold of (it could be a special event, limited product, financial incentives etc.)

8. Day 90 After Order (Three Month Anniversary) – Another Surprise Free Bonus 

One more unexpected free bonus gift to show your appreciation for their loyalty.

9. After Day 90 – Ongoing Customer Communication

Make sure you stay in contact with customers and continue to be top of mind on an ongoing basis.

One of the top secrets to extending the life of a customer (and how often they purchase) is increasing the level of communication you have with them.

Ideally, you’d offer a mix of value as well as special offers to keep them as a customer. At this point, can often upsell to other products or services that would be a good fit. Give them an opportunity to bump up to a larger sale

The medium isn’t as important as the strategy but here are a handful of ways you can stay in touch:

  • Email
  • Online/offline newsletters
  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • Letters/Postcards
  • Mailing items of interest (could be anything – shirts, posters, widgets, etc.)
  • Customer Appreciation event – free event to recognize how much you value your customers 
  • Personal phone calls

I want you to remember is that there is no such thing as communicating too often as long as you’re providing value and don’t bore your customers. 

Why This Onboarding Journey Works

While this process might seem like a lot of work, I guarantee if you implement it in your business you will see a ridiculously high return on your investment.

I encourage you not to look for shortcuts here. This is a small investment of time and money that will pay off in spades.

This process has many advantages:

  • Personally contacting customers within the first 30 days greatly increases the likelihood they will buy something else 
  • Reduces refunds and exchanges
  • Increases retention (removes the need to reactivate lost customers)
  • Makes your customers more receptive to future offers
  • The follow-up is also a great time to ask a customer for referrals!
  • You give yourself an opportunity to recommend a buying strategy that includes continuous repurchasing
  • Customers will be far more likely to give you a positive review. For a deeper dive, you can check out my post containing 16 strategies on how to get more 5 star reviews.
Onboarding Journey 9 Steps to Create Lifelong Customers

Customer Onboarding Checklist

You might find the below checklist helpful as you start to roll out your own customer onboarding process.

1. Define your customer’s needs

2. Set up a customer success team

3. Create a custom onboarding plan

4. Implement an engagement strategy

5. Evaluate and adjust your process

Define Your Customer’s Needs

The first step in any great onboarding journey is to define your customer’s needs. This will help you determine what success looks like for them, and how you can help them get there.

Some questions you can ask yourself to start this process include:

  • What are their goals?
  • What is the most important action you’d like your customers to take?
  • What will keep your customers with you and transition them to loyal customers?
  • What are their pain points?
  • What do they need to know in order to be successful with your product or service?

Set Up Your Customer Concierge Team

A customer concierge team is a group of people whose sole focus is to help customers achieve their goals. This team will be responsible for ensuring that your customers are getting the most out of your product or service.

Some questions you can ask yourself when setting up a customer concierge team include:

  • Who will be on this team?
  • What roles and responsibilities will they have?
  • What processes and systems will they use?
  • How will they be trained?

Create A Custom Onboarding Plan

A custom onboarding plan is a detailed plan that outlines the steps your team will take to help new customers achieve their goals. This plan should be tailored to the specific needs of each customer.

Some questions you can ask yourself when creating a custom onboarding plan include:

  • What steps need to be taken in order for the customer to be successful?
  • Who will be responsible for each step?
  • When will each step be completed?
  • How will you measure success?

Actionable tip: Make a list of every step or contact a new client makes in your business. Then write a list of 10 possible things you could do to include a “wow” factor.

Once you’ve brainstormed a list, decide what it would take to put each of those systems in place (prioritize based on highest impact and easiest to implement). I’d recommend using this to guide your efforts here.

Implement An Engagement Strategy

Engagement is key to any successful customer onboarding journey. You need to find ways to keep your customers engaged with your product or service.

Some questions you can ask yourself when creating an engagement strategy include:

  • How will you keep customers engaged?
  • What type of content will you create to solve the top challenges for your customers? Create an automated email campaign to address these potential pitfalls (i.e. FAQs, how-to videos)  
  • How often will you check in with customers?
  • How can you customers an “easy win” in the early stages?
  • What type of customer support will you offer?
Customer Onboarding Checklist

Onboarding Journey: Evaluate and Adjust Your Process

The final step in any great onboarding journey is to evaluate and adjust your process. This will help you ensure that your customers are getting the most out of your product or service.

Some questions you can ask yourself when evaluating your process include:

  • Are customers achieving their goals?
  • Are they using your product or service?
  • Are they engaged with your content?
  • Are they happy with your customer support?
  • Track impacts to key metrics (e.g. customer satisfaction, retention rates, customer lifetime value, referral rates)

If you find that customers are not achieving their goals, or if they are not using your product or service, you need to make adjustments to your process. These adjustments can be as simple as changing the order of your onboarding steps, or as could involve adding new steps to your process.

No matter what adjustments you need to make, always remember that the goal of any great onboarding journey is to help customers achieve their goals. By keeping this in mind, you can create a successful onboarding process that will help you attract lifelong customers.

Conclusion

Onboarding new clients doesn’t have to be a headache – with a little planning, it can be an opportunity to set your company apart from everyone else you compete with.

Remember: what you do or don’t do during this early period sets the tone for the rest of the relationship with this customer.

If you take the time to make a great first impression, overdeliver, and keep up the personal touch, you’ll be well on your way to engineering a world class post-sale process.

Your retention rates will improve and you’ll be able to turn one-time customers into lifelong fans. As a byproduct, this is an excellent growth strategy to increase the profitability of your customers.

I hope you found this helpful and would love to hear your results in the comments.

Jack


Investor & Mentor

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