When it comes to building strong foundations for brand-customer relationships, a great onboarding experience can't be overstated - why?
- First impressions count - Customer onboarding is one-off opportunity to establish trust and deliver value, if they're not engaged now they'll never be!
- Positive onboarding experiences increase the likelihood of long-term customer loyalty (Harvard Business Review, 2015)
- Completed onboarding reduces churn, increases customer satisfaction and increases revenue (Huffpost, 2017)
- When onboarding is about education, it increases feature utilisation and as a result - customer satisfaction. Successfully articulating "what we value in our mutual relationship."
- Improve employee satisfaction by allowing informed customers to interact with staff in a more effective and collaborative manner
The first thing to note when developing a customer onboarding strategy? Not every customer wants to be "known" or to exchange information with your brand, and that's great! The onboarding process is for those that do, it's about serving a brand's best customers and focusing on quality over quantity.
So what does it mean to be"known" or "onboard"? Well, in the context of Omneo, a "Known Customer" is someone who has created a profile, can be addressed by name and contacted via their preferred channel.
Getting started with your customer onboarding strategy:
Get to know your customer
Identify customer needs, key pain points and knowledge gaps to answer the crucial first question "What problem are customers solving when they create a profile?"
Understand what benefit you're providing
Benefits can come in many different forms, whether its acknowledgement, experiential, convenience-based or financial. It's essential to get clear on what value is provided and why it only works if/when they're "known". This information then informs what we're asking and why. Ultimately it's about being able to answer the question: "Now that I have a profile, what experiences are now possible?"
Consider all channels
The way we interact with one another face-to-face is different from on the phone and online. Customer onboarding needs to acknowledge and cater to this, the process of onboarding can happen in-store, online via email, or anywhere customers interact with a brand. Customer service, sales and marketing teams alike need to be aligned.
Privacy & Trust by design - Asking users for information without an apparent reason why, overwhelming them with form fields, using dark patterns or not providing privacy information erodes trust quickly, causing friction and deters people from the process altogether.
Test & Evolve
Like all relationships, the one between customer and brand is continuously evolving. Tweak and change as needed, below we look at which levers play a part in optimising the customer onboarding experience.
- Data Quality - Invest early in data validation, storage and reliability - its no use capturing customer information if there is a 50% bounce rate on your first email send due to poor quality data.
- Drop Off Rates - Identify trends for customers who began but did not complete the profile creation flow. Is there a page, section or question that needs work? Put simply: optimise, optimise, optimise!
- Heat Maps - Are customers getting distracted by different components throughout the flow? Can the UX be simplified? Heatmaps are a great indicator of what gets in the way for customers profile completion.
- Post Onboarding Behaviour - Are new "known" customers purchasing for a second time within their honeymoon period (typically the first 90 days in apparel and discretionary retail) or are they joining and then disappearing? Come up with a plan to nurture your newfound relationships.
- % of Complete Profiles - How many of our now "known" customers have given all the information asked? If this number is low, its time to deep dive into why. If it's is high we might not have been curious enough!
- Annual Average Value (AAV) of known customers - This metric allows us to quantify how much a new "known" customer is worth to your brand and to understand the value of quality onboarding and cost of abandonment.
- Customer Satisfaction Metrics - Don't forget, you can ask! Tools like Customer Satisfaction Score and net promotor scores provide insights and enable informed decision making on brand and process opportunities. (Read our guide to customer satisfaction metrics here)
When is the right time to "onboard" a customer?
- Whenever they're interacting with your brand
- When they have time to respond
- When they want to respond
- As they do things that require that information
- Providing information for a service
What does an "Onboard" customer look like?
Typically someone who recognises the value in an ongoing relationship with your brand. Onboarding is not a one-and-done action, but rather a process of becoming better "known" overtime.
An "onboard" customer looks different for every brand. Complete profiles might include:
- Style Preferences
- Comms Preferences
- Brand Preferences
- Size Preferences
- Store Preferences
- Email address
- Social Profiles
- Important Dates
- Payment Information
This series explores how to keep the customer at the centre of the profiling process, next we'll be looking at Designing customer onboarding for gender diversity and inclusion.
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