One of the best marketing investments a company can make is to spend time and resources on bringing a new customer on in a way that exceeds anything like what they’ve experienced in the past. This is where sale number two comes from and this is how a profitable referral relationship blossoms.
Far too many organizations spend all of their efforts on landing the new client and then immediately move on leaving the customer experience to chance or to Bob in shipping and Alice in accounting.
Creating a new customer onboarding process is actually pretty simple and may produce the highest return on marketing investment of any process you can install.
Below are a few of the key elements to consider for your onboarding system.
Make sure that your customer is introduced, either in person, via video chat or in the form of a document, to everyone in the organization that handles any aspect of their account or that they may need to contact further.
You can use these introductions as a bit of an orientation as well so team members can help set expectations and provide any information needed to keep things moving.
Connect with tech
These days we have lots of communication and productivity tools at our disposal. Use these tools not as a buffer for real human contact, but as a way to make doing business with you easy, convenient and efficient.
Find out your client’s preferred method of contact and collaboration and then put together the best possible technology solution to work with them.
For example if you know your client prefers to meet in person, meet in person, but also introduce them to Skype video chat or Google+Hangout technology and use these tools to provide extra real person interaction via computer for certain types of contact.
If you have lots of ongoing communication or collaboration needs introduce you client to a tool such as Basecamp or Central Desktop so you can help them keep tasks, emails and documents organized.
I once had a client that would bake a pie and send it to the office of every new client prior to their first working meeting. This little surprise was talked about every time they met after that. (It helped that the pies were really good too.)
Another client, a financial planner, had his client’s car detailed by a mobile detail service right out in his parking lot during his initial meeting with a client. He told them to be prepared to hand over the keys to their car when they arrived for a special surprise. It built some interesting suspense and thrilled his clients when they realized what a nice touch he had in store for them.
Surprises, good ones at least, make people remember you and make people talk about you – all good things when it comes referrals and repeat sales.
Give them homework
This one is a little tricky, but I think it goes a long way towards building commitment and value. Give your new clients an assignment to get work started.
Every business will be different, but I find that when we make our clients step back and think and do a little work, even hard, soul-searching work, they immediately find value, connection and accountability in the work we’re doing.
Pushing your client to take action on their behalf, even if it simply means reading the directions for how to better operate your product and then taking a fun little quiz to see how they did, demonstrates that you’re serious about them getting a result.
It also tells you right off the bat what kind of client you’re working with.
Start the results discussion now
I’ve always maintained that a sale isn’t really a sale until the client gets the results they were promised.
I think one of the most powerful things you can do is create some form of a results review and bake it right into your product or service delivery routine. When you have a process to start measuring your client’s success and you introduce this process in the onboarding phase of doing business, you automatically reinforce your commitment to delivering the result promised.
It’s also a great ongoing way to measure how happy your client is. At times clients lose interest in continuing a relationship because they lose sight of just how much value they are actually receiving.
This alone is a powerful thing, but you also give yourself and your staff a boost every time you measure the value your company has produced for yet another client. (Hint: This is one of the best ways to wrap your head around raising your prices.)
Customer onboarding is a system, it’s a really important and potentially insanely profitable system when you take the time to create it with an awesome customer experience and referral generating buzz in mind.