After months (if not years) of careful planning and development, you finally have a product that you are excited to take to market. You’re proud of the offering that you’ve created, and you’re anticipating a strong market response to your launch. Great!
But if we know one thing to be true about customer onboarding, it’s that “build it and they will come” does not always happen. In order to attract, convert, and retain customers, you need to develop a carefully-planned customer onboarding process.
Here are nine of the most common customer onboarding mistakes that companies make, and how you can avoid them:
1. False Promises
If the public backlash from consumers over delayed Kickstarter projects teaches us anything, it’s that customers are quick to publicly express their anger and frustration if their expectations are not met. While it is expected that product kinks may exist in your alpha and beta roll-outs, by the time you launch your product to the market, be sure that you are prepared to deliver on your promises. While it may be tempting to present your product in an overly positive light, setting unrealistic customer expectations will only cause you grief in the long term. It’s important to “get to the value” as soon as possible during the customer onboarding process. If you don’t, you could risk losing the customer’s attention. Or worse, lose the sale.
2. Delayed Response
The first few months of the customer onboarding process are a crucial window of opportunity not to be missed. It is the time where you set the tone for your relationship with your customers, and create the bonds that will turn your early adopters into loyal users and brand advocates. While responsive customer support is essential with all customers at any point in the sales cycle, it is especially important early on in the conversion process. Be proactive with responding to customer support tickets and your email marketing, and be sure to respond promptly to complaints on social media. Make yourself available to your customers and be sure to actively participate in online conversations about your product.
3. Shooting From the Hip
One of the biggest mistakes that companies make when it comes to customer onboarding comes long before the process even begins – they fail to set goals. Before you begin the onboarding process, it is essential to identify measurable objectives and set benchmarks to act as an indicator of your success. While it is likely that you will have to re-adjust your objectives as you move through the onboarding process, setting clear goals gives you direction and the ability to gauge success. Which leads us to our next mistake…
4. Ignoring Analytics
Behavioral tracking is not a nice-to-have; it is an essential element of the customer onboarding process. It is extremely important that you are prepared to begin collecting data the moment that you begin your onboarding process. This includes identifying who is accessing your site or product and what they are doing once they are there. Having this information will allow you to refine your onboarding process to better address the needs of your customers.
5. Treating Customers Like Numbers
Focus on the analytics, but don’t forget your customers are also human beings. If you treat your customers like numbers, you are likely to create many impersonal experiences. The key is to use the quantitative data that you are collecting through your analytics tools, and the qualitative data that you are collecting through customer interaction and in-context messaging, to create individualized experiences that excite and delight your users.
6. Complicated Pricing
Another sure-fire way to irritate – and thereby drive away – potential customers is to have complicated or unclear pricing information on your site. Be sure that there is a clear differentiation between pricing plans, and that the unique benefits of each price level are highlighted in an easily comprehensible format. Pricing information should also be positioned in a way that communicates the value of each product offering to the user above all else.
7. A Lengthy Signup Process
Dropbox is the source of much SaaS lore, and for good reason – its simple, user-friendly sign up process creates customer delight from the very first interaction with the platform. The simple signup page features a video that allows consumers to quickly understand what Dropbox can do for them, a simple download button and a form with a mere four fields for new users to fill out. The process of visiting the page, learning about the service and creating an account takes less than five minutes, and before you know it – you’re using the product. This efficient and user-friendly signup process minimizes the risk of abandonment and prioritizes customer happiness over viral growth.
Additionally, take into consideration at what point during the customer onboarding process may be the right time to solicit referrals. For example, there may be merit in removing the “invite a friend” function from your sign-up process. Instead, you can wait to ask until after the customer proves to be a happy one.
8. Static Messaging
Smart messaging is an integral part of creating customer delight. As customers move through the funnel from initial exploration, to product comparison, and eventually to a purchase, the cues that will motivate them to move to the next stage of the funnel will be different. Messages should be driven by their behavior within the product (or on the site) and should focus on specific actions based on what they are doing. For example, someone who is taking a free trial should be motivated to convert to a paid customer. Meanwhile, current customers should be provided with messages that encourage further adoption and exploration of the product so as not to churn.
Behavior-driven messages help users see value sooner by pointing out areas of the product that they should explore if they haven’t already, promoting relevant use cases, and making customers feel special. These messages can even help you convert more free users to paid accounts by displaying relevant upsell messaging at the right time.
9. Making Assumptions About Your Customers
While you’ve likely invested a significant amount of time getting to know the needs of your users on an intimate level during the product development phase, it is essential that you keep this dialog alive and well throughout the customer onboarding process. It can be all too easy for founders or product teams to confuse their own passions with the actual needs of the customer.
In order to ensure that your offers stays relevant, companies must learn to engage with their customers on a regular basis. Whether it’s through a quick phone call, or carefully-timed personalized message in your app or on your website, connecting with your users will generate invaluable insights.
While no two customer onboarding strategies will be identical, the common thread that connects successful onboarding processes is a consistent commitment to creating customer delight. By collecting actionable insights into consumer behavior from day one, you will be able to develop an onboarding process that not only meets, but surpasses the expectations of your customers.