Improvements to customer onboarding are all the rage these days. Why so? Probably because most organisations do it so badly.
Firstly even by it's name we make the process of becoming a customer sound like something that will require herculean effort to achieve - boarding a ship with your luggage strapped to all limbs. Unfortunately for many firms the blood sweat and tears of the sales pipeline are washed away when the customer finds out that it's "just too hard" - and takes their business elsewhere.
So what do companies do that makes the process so hard? How should it work?
1. Single channel, not omni channel
In an age where we have almost limitless technology in our pockets customers are still plagued by companies asking them to fill out bits of paper and "send them back". Customers today expect to do business their way, not the way that suits the company - and that is omni-channel - phone, fax, web, smartphone, in person (or even on a bit of paper). What's more, they want it without delay.
2. Antique business rules and policy
"Our policy is that we need you to..." - words of death for a blossoming new customer relationship. Too many firms simply gather unnecessary information at onboarding because it was decided 20 or 30 years ago that it was required. Antiquated business rules need to be questioned, challenged, eliminated or they become a catalyst for complexity and errors.
3. The sales breakpoint
So your customer has been wooed and wowed, the sales funnel has given birth to a beautiful new baby and then you hand it over. And wait. And wait. "No-one has contacted me" cry the customers. The breakpoint between the sales process and the often laborious customer administration piece often creates delays, confusion and frustration. The cure? Wherever possible capture customer data in the sales process and re-use to minimise back office processing.
4. Duplicate effort
More often than not data will be entered several times by several people into several systems (and more than likely entered incorrectly). Each keystroke is time and money that could be saved and staff that could be directed to use their time more effectively (like getting new customers, perhaps?) Technology today has the capability of "glueing" systems together to pass data to disparate systems - so if staff absolutely have to enter the data themselves, they at least only have to enter it once.
5. The Customer Experience
Organisations have a tendency to think that once the sale is made, the hard work is done. The truth is that the onboarding of a customer sets the tone for the relationship. A bad onboarding experience is a bit like getting married, carrying your partner across the threshhold then telling them to wash the dishes. The customer experience has to be nurtured for the longevity of the relationship to be sustainable.
The key to customer onboarding is minimal customer effort through the channel of their choice - data entered once and passed through the process. Customers don't care about being "onboarded" they just care about your products and services - so don't keep them from using them by putting process roadblocks in their way.