Anthony Hill, Geeks2U’s Technical Director, has authored the below blog for SmartCompany.
More than just signing up new customers, onboarding is all about getting off on the right foot.
Onboarding is a fancy term for that “getting to know you” phase when you start working with someone new. Businesses often run an onboarding orientation process for new staff, but it’s also important to make new customers feel at home and encourage them to stick around.
Ignoring your customers once they’ve handed over their first payment is a very short-sighted way to do business, especially when it’s typically cheaper to satisfy an existing customer than it is to find a new one. The customer acquisition and sign-up process is only the first stage of an effective customer onboarding program, it’s what you do next that can really make or break the relationship.
A customer onboarding program doesn’t need to be complicated, it could be as simple as handing them a loyalty card to encourage them to come back. Many businesses send out welcome packs, either in the post or electronically, but the smart ones send out more than just a copy of their terms and conditions. They go the extra mile by offering useful information which helps that new customer find their way and encourages them to take advantage of what’s on offer.
At this point your aim is to make customers feel good about their purchasing decision, so they’ll keep coming back and perhaps recommend you to their friends. Let them know what you can do for them and that you’re responsive to their needs. It might even be time to hit them with a quick new customer satisfaction survey, maybe with a prize on offer to encourage them to reply.
Depending on what your business offers, you might find it’s best to strategically spread out your onboarding customer touchpoints rather than bombarding them with too much information at once. You might use a combination of email, phone calls, SMS or post depending on what’s appropriate for the nature of your industry. Remember that even something simple like a product unboxing experience is a touchpoint with the customer, so make the most of it.
Many businesses aim to “surprise and delight” new customers with special offers and other expected benefits. You don’t have to go all-out and hand-deliver a basket of muffins to every new customer, something simple like a limited-time special offer can help strengthen the relationship and turn them into an active and regular customer. You might even strike a mutually beneficial deal with a few nearby businesses to put together a welcome pack of coupons for new customers.
If you’re going to make contact with your customers, make sure what you’ve got to say is interesting and relevant. Don’t come on too strong with up-selling or cross-selling, not if you’re hoping for a long-term relationship. Right now you want them to feel like a valued customer rather than simply a cash cow to be milked.
David Hancock is the founder and managing director of Geeks2U, a national on-site computer repair and support company.