Client Onboarding: 3 Tips for Building an Effective Process

By Kate Russell / 10 May 2021

A customer’s initial experience with a business’s products or services is a critical period of time. The client onboarding process influences consumers’ decisions to recommend products or services and whether or not to keep using them. These tips will help businesses build an effective client onboarding experience.

Long commutes, bagged lunches, and water-cooler chats are relics of a recent past when offices were stables of employees lives.

Replacing in-office culture, remote work became the norm for millions of workers across the globe in 2020. Businesses invested and adapted to support remote employees, meaning the option to work from home is likely to remain.

More than a quarter (26.7%) of Americans will work remotely this year, and that number is only expected to increase in the years following.

As companies continue to support work from home policies, they will also need digital solutions to facilitate remote operations. Consumers’ reliance on digital products and services is similarly unlikely to wane. 

The client onboarding experience may decide whether or not a customer chooses your solution or another’s. 

The onboarding process is crucial to securing clients. It’s the first experience with your product or service, and consumers can make decisions in as few as two seconds

An onboarding experience that quickly demonstrates value is likely to generate satisfied customers — an asset to any business.

In the increasingly competitive marketplaces of digital solutions, the client onboarding process is an opportunity for businesses to sharpen their competitive edges.

The Manifest asked 502 consumers about their onboarding experiences and preferences to help businesses implement onboarding experiences that meet their clients’ expectations and generate long-term value.

Our Findings:

  • Based on their onboarding experiences, 43% of consumers would be likely to recommend a product or service.
  • The onboarding experience influences 37% of consumers above the age of 55 decisions to recommend a product or service.
  • Based on their onboarding experiences, only 12% of consumers between the ages of 18–34 would be likely to make a recommendation.
  • Consumers prefer to receive information about new products through product tutorials or videos (29%) and online resources (28%) compared to scheduled calls with customer service representatives (7%) or pop-up notifications calling attention to features (6%).
  • Resources like FAQs foster engagement for 26% of consumers, but personalized communication (19%), regular check-ins with customer service representatives (10%), and mini-celebrations upon reaching milestones (9%) contribute to engagement too. 
  • More than half of consumers (54%) don’t write a review or provide feedback about an online product or service during the first three months of using it.
  • More than a third of consumers above the age of 55 (36%) give feedback or write a review of a product or service within the first three months of use.

Why Is Client Onboarding Important?

The client onboarding process impacts consumers’ decisions to recommend online products or services.

The onboarding experience would influence 43% of consumers’ decisions to recommend a product or service.

The onboarding experience influences 43% of consumers' decisions to recommend a digital product or service.

The data indicates that a successful client onboarding process supports businesses’ marketing strategies by increasing the likelihood of consumers’ recommendations.

Age influences the likelihood that consumers will refer friends and family members to digital products and services.

The onboarding experience is more influential in older consumers’ decisions to recommend a product or service compared to younger consumers.

More than a third (37%) of consumers above the age of 55 would be likely to recommend a product or service based on their onboarding experience. 

37% of consumers older than 55 are likely to recommend a digital product or service based on their onboarding experiences.

In comparison, only 12% of consumers between the ages of 18–34 would be likely to make a recommendation based on their onboarding experiences. 

The data reveals that the onboarding process is particularly valuable to businesses with older user bases. 

By building a successful client onboarding process, businesses simultaneously develop a marketing pipeline. 

Whether companies have older or younger audiences, word-of-mouth marketing is an important part of a successful marketing strategy. 

A significant majority of consumers (92%) believe recommendations from friends and family more than all other forms of advertising.

This means businesses have more success gaining new customers through existing customer recommendations than running pay-per-click or social media ad campaigns.

As noted by Eden Cheng, marketing director and co-founder of Welnovice — a software company, “Word-of-mouth marketing plays a vital role in influencing and motivating organic discussions about a particular company, brand, and event.”

If consumers value a product or service, they’re more likely to have positive conversations about it with their friends or families. 

Stephen Light, chief marketing officer and co-owner of Nolah Mattress — a mattress company — gave insight into why consumers recommend products: “Digital products are worthy of recommendation to loved ones if they perform beyond expectations.”

By exceeding their expectations, digital products or services encourage consumer recommendations.   

Client onboarding presents meaningful value to businesses. The experience impacts consumers’ decisions to recommend a digital product or service, promoting businesses through word-of-mouth marketing.

Here are three tips to help businesses build an onboarding experience that encourages clients to recommend their products or services.

1. Create Videos and Resources to Help New Clients Learn

Customers need information to effectively use products and services, especially earlier in their journeys. As the most popular methods, businesses should use videos and resources to help new users learn about their recent purchases.

Consumers prefer to receive information about newly purchased products or services through tutorials or videos (29%) and resources like FAQs (28%). 

Consumers prefer to learn about new products or services through video content and resources such as FAQs.

When learning how to use an online product or service, consumers prefer methods that allow them to onboard on their own terms. 

The most popular method for receiving information, video is an important mode of communication for businesses.

Consumers will watch an estimated 100 minutes of video content per day this year — an increase from 84 minutes a day in 2020.

By creating videos to help clients learn about your products or services, you’re more likely to reach consumers and therefore create an effective onboarding experience.

Businesses using videos in their client onboarding process not only promote the process’s efficacy by engaging consumers’ preferred method of communication. Rather, they also advance their competitive advantages.

In response to consumer’s video consumption, companies increased their video ad spend from about $9 billion in 2017 to more than $10 billion in 2019. 

By investing in video content, businesses engage a trend spread across industries. The investment ensures businesses aren’t left behind in markets increasingly reliant on video to capture and engage consumers.

The founder of UNRL Media — a digital marketing agency — Chase McAllister, believes video content provides lasting value.

“With video training, you only need to explain once, that explanation lasts a lifetime until changes need to be made,” McAllister said.

In addition to product tutorials or videos, businesses have other options for providing new clients with information. 

Email

Email is another popular method of communication between businesses and their clients. 

Only 17% of consumers prefer to learn about products or services through emails with instructions and tips for use.

Email presents a unique set of advantages to businesses using it for customer communications.

For example, it’s free to create accounts with a number of popular service providers, including Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Outlook. This makes email a cost-effective method for businesses to communicate with customers throughout the onboarding process.

Billions of people have email accounts. It’s therefore likely that businesses can reach a majority of their clientele through email.

There are, however, downsides to using email for customer communications. 

The rise in phishing attacks, for example, may provoke communication challenges between businesses and their clients. 

Consumers and their email providers may be especially suspicious of emails from unfamiliar sources. If they recently purchased a business’s product or service, they may not recognize the domain name and mark the email as spam.

Phone Calls

Businesses can also leverage phone calls during the client onboarding process.

Only 7% of consumers like learning about newly purchased products or services through scheduled calls with customer service representatives.

Phone calls, similarly, present advantages and disadvantages to businesses onboarding new clients. 

A phone call provides clients with secure, personal communication. Even if the client isn’t available at the time of the call, businesses can leave detailed voicemails accessible only to the phone’s owner.

Phone calls, also, mitigate the opportunities for miscommunication, which text communication may exacerbate. The tone of voice adds another dimension to communication, clarifying the intentions behind messages.  

Carla Rodriguez, marketing manager at Wiz-Tec Computing Technologies Inc, a software company, talked about the importance of phone conversations in her company’s client onboarding process.

She said: “Our technicians are available by phone to help customers with any confusion they're experiencing about using our software.”

Unfortunately, businesses may find it difficult to get clients on the line. 

A majority of Americans (80%) don’t answer their cell phones when an unknown number calls, according to the Pew Research Center.

Pop-Ups

Another option available to businesses is using pop-ups to call users’ attention to useful product or service features. However, just 6% of consumers preferred this method for receiving information. 

Pop-ups can help engage users by highlighting useful features.

Source

Some advantages of using banners to deliver information about online products or services include:

  • Enabling users to independently explore the product or service
  • Encouraging efficient onboarding by leveraging automation
  • Providing information about product or service’s features as users engage them

However, new users may find call-outs and pop-ups distracting. Another challenge is the amount of information that pop-ups can provide to new users. Rather than an exploration of the product, pop-ups serve as an introduction to new features.

Bryce Welker, the owner of CPA Exam Guy, deploys similar features on his website to support new customers: “We rely on our written and interactive website content to carefully layout product option comparisons so that customers can see how the various study course options stack up.”

Interactive content such as banners or empty states encourage users to engage with new information, helping them realize additional value from digital products or services.

Using various modes of delivery, businesses can provide new clients with informational content to promote their success with products or services.

2. Engage Various Features in the Client Onboarding Process

Consumers find a wide variety of features promote their engagement during the onboarding process. Retaining clients means integrating the onboarding process with different content and activities to meet their varying expectations.

More than a quarter (26%) of consumers find that resources such as FAQ sections maintain their engagement with digital products or services. 

A variety of features keep consumers engaged with digital products and services.

An organized and comprehensive FAQ page is an accessible point of reference for customers to explore, learn about products and services, and receive quick answers to their questions without contacting company representatives — saving not only the client’s time but also employees’ time.

FAQ sections also help to establish trust between businesses and their clients. By openly addressing questions, businesses demonstrate transparency and empathy. FAQs show that a business understands their clients’ needs and a willingness to meet them, instilling confidence and promoting customer loyalty.

Founder of Inc and Go — an online business formation resource —  Andrey Doichev, uses a blog to retain customers: “There is never a shortage of questions to answer. Our blog is a great source of information that keeps clients on our radar.”

Readily available resources help establish businesses as a go-to source for information, encouraging clients to return when in need of answers.

A diverse set of features, however, retains consumer engagement, so businesses have options for building a successful client onboarding process. 

In addition to an FAQs section, the following features may help companies to keep clients engaged throughout their onboarding experiences.

Personalized communication 

Nearly one-fifth of consumers (19%) reported that personalized communication such as emails or messages keeps them engaged with online products or services.

Personalized communication shows that a business knows, hears, and values their clients. This benefits businesses and consumers alike. 

By personalizing communication, businesses provide consumers with highly relevant information. Companies, in turn, generate word-of-mouth marketing. 

One report found that 77% of consumers would recommend a brand that offers personal service to friends and family.

Businesses that personalize communication throughout the onboarding experience transform clients into brand evangelists.

Regular check-ins with customer service representatives 

Only 10% of consumers stated that regular check-ins with customer service representatives keep them engaged with online products or services.

Businesses, however, shouldn’t neglect communication during the client onboarding process. 

A third of Americans (33%) would switch companies after only one bad experience of poor service. Quality service promotes customer loyalty. 

A majority of consumers don’t want to connect with customer service representatives on a regular basis. They do, however, expect timely and friendly service when necessary.

Businesses should ensure that when customers do want to connect, they’re able to provide them with the level of service clients expect.

Mini celebrations when users hit milestones 

Small celebrations upon hitting key milestones maintain only 9% of consumers’ engagement with digital products or services.

The feature, in addition to others, can still help businesses create a successful client onboarding process. 

Asana, for example, uses celebration creatures to congratulate their users.

Mini celebrations throughout the onboarding process can retain users' engagement.

Source

A celebration creature periodically flies across users’ screens upon the completion of a task. By integrating these mini celebrations, Asana creates an engaging user experience.

When new customers hit milestones, a notification, email, or quick call to share congratulations shows that a company cares. It demonstrates an investment in the client’s success, which encourages the client to remain invested in the product or service.

Requests for feedback 

Requests for feedback keep just 8% of consumers engaged with a digital product or service.

Requesting feedback may not promote as much engagement as accessible resources. It’s nevertheless an important aspect of the client onboarding process.

By requesting feedback, businesses show that they care about their customers’ experiences. Responding to feedback with effective solutions augments clients’ experiences and encourages them to continue using the product or service.

Businesses foster their clients' long-term engagement with their online products or services by integrating a multitude of features into their onboarding processes.

3. Ask for Feedback at the Right Time 

By aligning requests for feedback with clients’ habits, businesses can secure greater reply rates and gather greater insights to their benefit. 

A majority of consumers (54%) infrequently provide feedback or leave reviews within three months following the purchase of a digital product or service. 

54% of consumers rarely share product feedback or reviews during the first three months after purchase.

Companies that ask clients for feedback on their online products or services early in the onboarding process are unlikely to experience a high response rate. As a result of the minimal returns, it’s hard to yield meaningful insights.  

However, more than a third (36%) of consumers more than 55 years of age frequently provide feedback or leave a review of a product or service during the initial three months of use. 

36% of consumers 55 years and older frequently provide feedback or reviews for online products or services within the first three months after making a purchase.

Businesses with an older client base can request feedback earlier in their customer’s journey and gather a large enough sample size to identify trends. 

On the other hand, companies catering towards younger generations collect meaningful results by waiting until later in their customers’ journeys 

Feedback is especially helpful when it demonstrates trends, which is why it’s important for businesses to align their request with consumer habits. By gathering feedback from a large portion of customers, businesses can identify trends — both positive and negative. 

Companies can then craft effective solutions to customers’ challenges and provide them with greater value. 

Mike Nemeroff, CEO and Co-Founder of RushOrderTees, an online custom apparel brand, states that it’s important for businesses to gather feedback from a large percentage of buyers.

From there, he advises: “Disregard the vocal minorities, and go with the much less vocal majority. “

Businesses can also leverage positive feedback to realize a multitude of benefits.

Client reviews not only help companies improve processes or products. Rather, positive customer reviews also generate greater revenue and online visibility. 

Moz survey found that online reviews contribute about 15% to how Google and other search engines decide a business’s ranking in local search results.

Reading positive reviews from previous clients instills trust in potential customers, encouraging them to purchase products or services. By making positive client feedback available, businesses promote their growth.

CIO of Outgrow.co — an interactive content and informatics company — Dr. Saksham Sharda — recommends using multiple feedback forms at multiple stages in the user journey to encourage customers to provide feedback. 

Sharda said, “It's always nice to send out an interactive feedback quiz, contest, or form in your newsletter to encourage feedback.”

For example, Teva  —  a footwear brand — requests feedback through an email. 

Sending consumers surveys after receiving their purchases is an effective way to collect feedback.

Teva aligns their requests for feedback with their customers’ journey. The company sends the email after customers receive their orders. This means customers have had experiences with different business processes and products, making them primed for feedback.

Businesses can also integrate feedback forms into their websites, blogs, and customer service pages. By offering clients multiple avenues to give feedback, companies encourage their participation. 

Customer feedback provides companies with opportunities to improve and grow. To optimize the feedback process, businesses can align their requests with their client bases’ habits.

The Client Onboarding Process Can Help Businesses Succeed

Building a successful client onboarding process is a valuable endeavor for businesses. 

A successful onboarding experience increases a business’s chances of being recommended. By effectively nurturing customers throughout their onboarding experiences, companies simultaneously nurture their word-of-mouth marketing pipeline.

Video may be the most popular form of communication between businesses and their customers. Businesses, however, can leverage a multitude of methods to provide new clients with information during the onboarding process.

Similarly, a variety of features in the client onboarding process promotes long-term engagement. In addition to helpful resources like FAQs, personalized communication, mini celebrations at milestones, and check-ins with customer service representatives throughout the onboarding process can augment client retention.  

Companies advance by collecting client feedback and implementing solutions to mitigate pain points. Encouraging customers to leave feedback involves asking at the right time and offering numerous methods.

About the Survey 

The Manifest surveyed 502 consumers across the U.S. 

About 37% of respondents identify as female and 37% identify as male. 26% of respondents declined to indicate their gender.

More than a third of respondents (36%) are from the south;  28% are from the midwest; 20% are from the west while 16% are from the northeast.

More than a third of respondents 38% are 55 years or older while 24% are between 35 and 54 years old. 12% of respondents are aged 18 to 24. 26% of respondents declined to provide their ages. 

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