Systems + Processes | 10 Minute Read
I read this Harvard Business Review article years back that talks about the value of keeping your existing customers vs. the cost of acquiring new ones. It was startling to learn two things:
Whaaaat? Yes! That's why celebrities, big box stores and other influencers put so much effort into getting you to come back over and over and over again.
Despair not, friend. As solopreneurs, we have an advantage when it comes to customer retention that the "bigger players" don't. It's our customer onboarding process.
And it all begins with a plan to "nail" our post-purchase experience—starting with one specific product or service at a time. This big picture overview should include a list of the things our customers will do and the results they can expect to achieve. Careful consideration of the following will be helpful as you create and document yours.
So that we are all on the same page, let's define onboarding as an integrated approach to creating a consistent customer experience.
Ideally, each customer will feel that your solution is custom-tailored to meet their needs. At the same time, Customer A and Customer B should have a similar experience with your deliverables and service care. A good process ensures this and gives you better control over your customers' experiences.
Imagine that you're selling child car seats. Here are some activities your customer will need to complete upon purchase.
How can you help them through each during your onboarding process?
The point is to think it through and then ensure you have the right post-purchase care in place.
For this question you'll want to think about the benefits of use. Thinking of our child car seat example above, benefits you can reinforce may include:
For each of the above items, it's easy to see how you can provide help. You can provide an instruction manual for easy assembly, video tutorials on how best to move the seat from one car to another, and follow-up emails asking if your customer has checked out the optional extra buckles. You'll may also want to consider a customer service telephone number where customers can get the help they need when troubleshooting.
Once you understand the big picture, you'll need to flesh out the details of their post-purchase experience even more. Here are a few things to consider as you do:
The list above will help you create a framework to holistically design your entire onboarding process. From there, you'll still need to figure out the details for execution (all of which we'll cover in future posts):
Once you’ve answered the questions above, and made a big list of items for your customers' post-purchase experiences, consider all of the points of contact they'll have with you.
A point of contact could be an interaction with you, your team members, vendors, your website or office, or any other aspect of your business where there is a touch-point between your customer and you. With your list of customer interactions, start identifying ways you can offer the help customers need at each point of contact with you. (See example below as a thought starter.)
Let's change things up a bit. For this example, you are now a website designer. As such, here's a sample of a very basic onboarding timeline to follow once you've made a sale. Essentially, what you're doing is drawing a visual representation of your customer’s post-purchase interactions with you. As you flesh out your plan, add more detail on what content to include and send—and within what time frame.
Immediately After Purchase
Thanks for making a purchase; begin onboarding process
Checklist of forms to complete and link to schedule kick off call
Reminder to fill out forms and schedule project kick off call
Links to forms to complete and online scheduler
Review completed forms and agree on next steps
Send agenda and other materials before call
List of completed items and
Submission of first deliverables
Send link to preview deliverables
Review first deliverables
Send summary of materials and video call link
Learn to use new site
Overview tutorial for
Start using site
Detailed tutorials on different parts of site
Ask about challenges
Close out the project; request for testimonial and/or referral
Provide testimonials template and referral process
Let's change things up a bit. For this example, you are now a website designer. As such, here's a sample of a very basic onboarding timeline to follow once you've made a sale. Essentially what you're doing is drawing a visual representation of your customer’s post-purchase interactions with you. As you flesh out your plan, add more detail on what content to include and send — and within what time frame.
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