Previously, we discussed how to acquire customers - and how to help those customers see how your products and services fit their needs. Often, when a new customer is acquired a “honeymoon phase” begins: everyone is happy and excited to do business together, and positive energy abounds. It’s a wonderful time because your customer trusts you, sees the value of your products or service, and anticipates a solution to their needs!
It’s also the first time you and your new customer will spend large amounts of time together. If you’re inattentive or unresponsive, they’ll notice and remember. Onboarding is where you set the foundation of your relationship for the future.
Meet Those High Expectations!
The onboarding phase requires that you understand what’s most important to the customer - and then execute the agreed-on work accordingly, whether that’s providing a single product or an ongoing supply chain relationship or something in between. It’s an important point in the relationship and you should continually have their high expectations in mind.
Now’s the time to remind your new customer of the solution you proposed and how it meets their needs. It’s also critical in these early days to stay in contact with them for the sake of transparency, clarity, and retention. In other words, reinforce that value proposition in terms of your product and customer experience.
To stay on-task during onboarding, set up a structured system to make sure nothing slips through the cracks. You might even make a checklist of questions, discussion points, and to-dos for this welcome phase of your relationship. Successful onboarding includes:
- Solidifying your understanding of them: ask questions, listen to the answers, review notes in your CRM from sales calls, verify details of their business
- Communication: weekly meetings, email or quick phone calls to recap/check in, staying available to answer questions
- Observation: discuss what you know and learn about the customer with your internal sales and customer service teams so everyone is coordinated
Each of these builds trust with the customer and helps manage expectations.
Build a Lasting Relationship
One of your revenue goals is probably to develop long-term customer relationships, and that starts now during this honeymoon phase. Your response to questions and misunderstandings, and your attention to detail in these early days sets the tone for the future. So, bring a nurturing attitude and a sense of humor to the table to keep the onboarding phase running smoothly!
Keep in mind that both of you know your product meets their need (that’s why they chose you!), but it’s how you manage and interact with them that determines if you’ve won a lifelong customer.
Join us next for a discussion of the metrics that count. Meanwhile, please get in touch with your questions about marketing, sales, and revenue performance management.
Editor’s note: This blog was originally published in 2014. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.