Adopting best practices for customer onboarding is a key factor in client retention and loyalty. Many businesses today are allocating resources to competitive intelligence, mystery shopping and market research. This is in an effort to gain a competitive advantage and increase both share of wallet and market share.

However, in my experience, ensuring the customer has a memorable and seamless entry into your organization is essential. First of all – In cementing loyalty. Further – in their internalizing your value proposition. And finally, in bringing you more of their business. Therefore, having them act as your ambassadors, by ensuring your clients are brought into a lasting relationship with your organization, is just good business sense.

Customer Onboarding Best Practices

Many of my mystery shops include an element of assessing the client’s customer onboarding efforts and benchmarking their performance against competitors. Here are ten best practices you might want to consider in your organization:

  • Communicate often and early

    The sooner you build dialogue with a new customer and the more often, the more successful you will be in cementing this relationship. Some companies reach out to new customers, the same day they sign up, and 5 times more during  the first 12 months.

  • Use multiple touch-points

    Combine phone, email, social media, and direct mail to improve success of your onboarding program. Otherwise, using only one of these approaches increases the risk of a customer accidentally deleting an email, or having a letter sent to the wrong address.

  • Keep it simple

    Narrow down your pitch to 2 or 3 services/products per customer. Align them to what you know about the client through their profile or early choices.

  • Focus on keeping YOUR good customers happy

    Determine which customers are more valuable and target them vs. trying to appease everyone.

  • Ensure communications reflect customer’s status

    Avoid generic communication. Design messages based upon what product or service the customer has purchased. Send communications that speak directly to the customer’s interests (e.g. rebates, bundles, new product announcements, etc.). Only do this after they have given you their agreement as to what information they would like to get and how often.

  • Extend frequency & time period to reach out

    Traditional 2 x 2 x 2 programs are out of date. (This is where the new customer is thanked after two days. The new customer is called after two weeks. The new customer receives a cross-selling offer after two months.)  Instead, touch new customers every 15 to 20 days for the first 120 days. That means at least 6 to 8 times during this period.

  • Maximize cross-selling effORTS

    Cross selling makes new customers feel valued. For example, if you are a bank, then use the first 30 days of a new client relationship to help customers adapt to your approach. Debit card use. Electronic banking services. Set-up alerts so they can monitor their own transactions.

  • Make customer data accuracy a priority

    No matter how good your messaging is, if customer data is incorrect, communication becomes irrelevant and harmful. For example, “I keep getting letters from my bank that misspell my name.”

  • Obtain accurate, clean data at source

    It is critical during the initial contact with a client that the data collected is accurate. Employees should show the customer their computer screens and verify information accuracy. And, call centre reps should ask each new customer to spell their name, address, etc. Then, repeat what they were told to verify the information collected is correct.

  • Set ROI goals to measure effectiveness

    Finally, develop a scorecard that looks at both micro performance measures (e.g., how many onboarding “touches” each customer received AND macro performance measures (e.g., cross-sell penetration, service activations). Then, evaluate program implementation and provide improvement of your onboarding program.