Manage Customer Expectations From the Start With a Solid Onboarding

Imagine if your customers could navigate through your online store, order products and checkout without a hitch. That’s actually ideal—customers dream of seamless purchase experiences from the start. Unfortunately, it’s also more often the exception than the rule. That means it’s up to your business to ensure that customer expectations are met consistently.  

Take first-time home improvement customers. Many products are designed to make it easy for the average homeowner to complete simple repairs and basic projects. What’s more, online ads and brochures make DIY projects seem absurdly easy, even for novices. But buyers usually want to know additional details about a product: How do they use it? How do they fix common problems? When should they go for maintenance or repairs?  

Then, there’s the actual purchase process. It’s often not as simple as picking up the product and putting down your money. For example, a home improvement project like repairing a kitchen or building a porch will involve requirements specific to each customer. How does that work for your online store?    

Thankfully, customer onboarding can save the day. Onboarding starts by aligning your customers’ problems with your solutions. Then, you give the customer a seamless purchase experience that reinforces their decision to go with you.

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Defining Customer Onboarding

When a potential customer takes an interest in your brand, you’ll need to prepare them for the complete experience. Not all products are the type that you just hand over to buyers and let them enjoy. Many items, especially in the home improvement market, will need specific preparation instructions, proper maintenance, simple repair or troubleshooting and proper disposal.  

Customer onboarding enables customers to fully understand and accept a product’s requirements and limitations before they make a purchase. This information prevents them from making false assumptions about what the product or service can do for them.

More importantly, customer onboarding is a way to roll out the welcome carpet for new customers. But this welcome session extends far beyond the congratulatory message for making a purchase. It should also introduce the customer to what the product can do and how they can maximize its use.

What’s more, onboarding gives the new owner additional instructions, basic operation tutorials and customer support information. Think of it as preparing everything a customer needs for the journey ahead. If the preparations are complete and in good order, you’ll exceed customer expectations.

The Benefits of Customer Onboarding

With proper onboarding, customers will have a better grasp of what lies in store for them. They’ll also get the most out of their purchase in terms of proper use and maintenance. Specifically, benefits include:

Better Product Familiarization

Let’s say you sell paint to a first-time customer for some quick fixes around the house. Without proper onboarding, they might buy the wrong kind of paint for the surface they’re planning to work on. Onboarding can also teach them about proper mixing, applying and drying paint.

Faster Return on Investment

In this case, a return on investment (ROI) simply means getting the job done and enjoying the results. Proper onboarding can help customers learn how to prepare both the product (like paint, for example) and the surface where they’ll apply it.

Instead of going through expensive and time-consuming trial-and-error methods, your customers can accomplish their intended task if you provide complete and easy-to-understand instructions. Getting the intended results during the first attempt is time and money well spent.

Create a Positive Feedback Loop

If a product fulfills all customer expectations, it makes sense for the buyer to stick with the purchase and develop loyalty. This will also nudge users to generate positive feedback about the product, which in turn attracts more customers. The ensuing positive feedback loop becomes a great way to amplify your product in a crowded market and make it stand out from everybody else.

Create Upsell and Cross-Sell Opportunities

A complete customer onboarding includes additional ways to maximize the use of the product. This includes enhancing or expanding a product’s performance through significant upgrades or additions.

When customers buy into the onboarding process, it opens up opportunities for your brand to offer them both cross-sell and upsell options. Going back to the paint example, you could offer the right kind of paint thinners as well as the recommended brushes for the type of job.  

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The Role of Customer Expectations

By definition, customer expectations are a set of outcomes that your customers hope to get when they buy your product or service. For instance, hiring a licensed plumber’s services should solve that pesky faucet leak and address that faulty toilet.

More importantly, customers expect these issues to remain fixed for the foreseeable future. At the same time, customers expect that, as a professional, the plumber should arrive on time, perform the job professionally and communicate with the customer.

Should the product or service fail to meet these expectations, customers will understandably look for a new supplier. Conversely, a product that meets or exceeds customer expectations can lead to positive feedback, a more loyal following and increased sales.

How Customer Expectations Are Formed

Expectations for a product’s quality and performance happen throughout its lifespan. Before purchase, customers form their opinions on a product based on its reputation.  Generally, highly recommended brands often come with lofty customer expectations. A brand of power tools or kitchen appliances that still work in superb condition after a few years carries a reputation for quality, reliability and value.  

Meanwhile, customers have little or no expectations for economy brands and obvious knockoffs. They’ll consider buying these types of products only if the preferred brand proves too expensive or unavailable in their area.

When a brand launches a new item, it often rides on the popularity of the older, more accepted product. The seller can promote the new product as an improved version of the old one. Or they can offer a “lite” version that has limited functions and costs less.  Either way, customers will approach the new product based on expectations they formed on its predecessor.

So, if buyers are already accustomed to a quality product that performs as advertised, they’ll expect the same from the new variant. In cases where customers are considering a switch to a different brand, they expect that the new product should perform better than their current one.

How a Customer Forms Expectations About Products They Haven’t Tried

Marketers have the task of influencing customer expectations about their products. By developing marketing materials that highlight a product’s features and benefits, brand teams can generate interest and create demand even before a product’s launch. Some of the channels marketers use include:

  • Product brochures, flyers and technical sheets. These provide details about a product’s main features and specifications. They also contain information about what the product can do and what problems it can solve.
  • Blog posts and web articles. These informative articles introduce the product and highlight its key features. It also provides an informative background on how the product can provide solutions to specific problems.
  • Product reviews and demonstrations. These materials can appear as blog posts, videos or podcasts. Brands usually release an advanced copy to selected media reviewers who post their findings. Apart from providing a firsthand glimpse of the product, reviews also share the author’s comments, observations and opinions about the item.
  • Social posts and endorsements. Brands will post marketing materials, previews or external reviews on their social media accounts to drum up interest. In addition, brand teams can ask celebrity endorsers or industry authorities to make a positive recommendation for the product.
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Importance of Presentation During Customer Onboarding

At the heart of customer onboarding is the presentation, a comprehensive source of information that contains valuable product information. It gives clients a first glimpse of what the product or service is all about.

With careful design and preparation, the presentation can articulate the customer’s current dilemma, offer a relevant solution, detail the important features and provide a unique selling proposition (USP). In short, a well-crafted presentation can position your product as the solution to a client’s problem.

Of course, a presentation is only as good as its information—and the interactive presentation software you use to create it. Whether delivered by a sales representative during a meeting or read by the client at their leisure, it should contain valid points that make the proposition worthy of their consideration. Using a unique selling proposition, a brand can distinguish itself from its competitors.  

Elements of a Successful Customer Onboarding Presentation

To ensure presentation success, there are some important factors that help the audience relate to and engage with the content. This means communicating a clear and consistent message and providing eye-catching visuals that complement the ideas. These presentation techniques can help:

Preparation Is Key

Preparation can ensure the presentation connects with its intended target. Before creating the slideshow, perform background research on your target audience. Tailoring your tone, wording and even manner of presenting to suit your client’s preferences can help strengthen the connection.

Aim for 10/20/30

Neither the audience nor the presenter likes lengthy presentations. Typical viewers have an attention threshold limit of around 20 minutes. Anything more than that, and many listeners will actively disengage.

Too many slides and too small text can also drastically lower audience interest. Silicon Valley marketing specialist and author Guy Kawasaki promotes the 10/20/30 rule when delivering a presentation. Limit the material to 10 slides, with 20 minutes to complete the pitch. In addition, each slide should use text with a minimum 30-point font size. This limits text to only the essentials and prevents overloading viewers.

Identify Pain Points

The most important part of your research should focus on your client’s pain points. What problems make them seek a solution? Also, what happened to their previous attempts at solving the problem?

By successfully connecting to the audience and correctly identifying their dilemma, all the other details will fall into place. In some cases, a presentation can even show customers solutions to problems they haven’t realized yet.

Make Your Presentation Bulletproof

When referencing numbers and statistics, always make sure you have the data that backs it up. Customers who know their industry well will naturally want more information. As such, they’ll be more likely to ask follow-up questions or request sources. As a presenter, you should be ready to provide this information to bolster your presentation’s credibility.

End With a Call to Action

One of the major mistakes presenters can commit is to end a presentation without asking the audience to act on the matter. Instead of a passive ending, ask your viewers to act on solving the problem by continuing to talk with you. It could be a simple call to register for a newsletter, set up a private appointment or request more marketing materials.

In addition, make yourself available for any audience members who may have additional questions or need your contact information.

Photographer: 13_Phunkod

Strategies for Effective Onboarding

Presentations are only one aspect of effective customer onboarding. You’ll also need to spend some time mapping out your plan before crafting your program. Here are a few strategies that can create a well-crafted customer onboarding program and help you fulfill customer expectations.

Set Your Objectives

Determine what your objective is for your onboarding plan. Do you want customers to use your product more frequently? If yes, then your objective should include providing more reference materials and content to help customers increase their usage.

Are you aiming for better customer loyalty by reducing churn? You can improve loyalty by sharing content featuring testimonials and tips and tricks.

Whatever your set goals are, put them in writing and have the entire onboarding team agree. Objectives should always be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

Assemble Your Team

Speaking of teams, you’ll need specific specialists to create and run your onboarding program. This includes members from the sales, marketing, customer service and finance teams of your organization.  

The onboarding group should also include researchers, content creators, writers, graphic designers and analysts. While the program allows for learning moments on the fly, it pays to have an experienced team that’s attuned to what customers want and need.

Decide on the Process

Once you have the team in place, it’s time to determine your onboarding process. What materials will you produce? Will you onboard your customers individually or as a group? Will you offer self-service programs that allow customers to learn at their own pace?

In addition, you’ll need to finalize the choice of channels where you can communicate with your customers. Do they prefer a constant online presence like chat or SMS? Or are they more comfortable receiving updates via email?  

Measure Your Progress

Once the onboarding process starts, you’ll need to keep track of what’s happening to see if the program is working as intended. For instance, an onboarding program designed to increase usage should monitor the time spent by individual users on the product.

Additional analytics can also determine which components are responsible for the increase or decrease in usage. This way, the team can still make adjustments to the program to better achieve the set objectives.

Stay Customer-Friendly After Onboarding

Onboarding is the start of the relationship with customers, not the end state. After onboarding, stay in touch with your customers and be ready to provide them assistance whenever needed. If onboarding is welcoming your customers, then continuous customer service is making them feel at home.

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Tools and Technologies to Enhance Onboarding

Apart from the onboarding team, your brand will need modern tools to stay on top of the program. This includes software for communicating with clients, creating and managing content and monitoring platforms.

Email and Communication Software

Despite the proliferation of spam and other annoying messages that flood your inbox, email remains a popular channel to connect with customers. Why? Unlike chat and messaging platforms, email doesn’t convey a greater sense of urgency. Customers can open and read their emails at their own pace.

Additionally, email newsletters are a great way for customers to catch up with the onboarding program. Other communication software that allows for effective onboarding includes chatbots, direct messaging, social messaging and a reliable telephony system.

Content Management System

Onboarding materials will require a repository that allows creators to use and reuse approved elements. A content management system (CMS) fills the role of content manager, distributor and storage facility all at the same time. This unified approach enables teams and individuals to access approved resources when creating new marketing materials.

Customer Relationship Management Systems

A customer relationship management (CRM) system holds all the information for each customer. It allows customer service teams to have client information at hand whenever they call for assistance. The CRM also serves as a resource for analytics programs. Using customer information, brands can crunch the numbers and determine what program components work and which don’t.    

Presentation Software

A professional presentation tool enables onboarding teams to communicate their message to clients directly. It can take a collection of ideas, images, video, audio and text and come up with a presentation that engages the audience. Modern iterations of the presentation software feature better interactivity. This allows audiences to dig into ideas further by exploring the content.

Measuring Customer Onboarding Success  

The success of an onboarding program depends on whether it manages to fulfill customer expectations. Of course, relying on anecdotal feedback won’t provide an accurate measurement of the goal. Instead, teams should look at the measured results and compare them with baseline standards. This way, you can get a factual and accurate representation of your efforts.

Some of the most valuable metrics used in onboarding include:

  • Customer Satisfaction Rate. This measures how happy or satisfied a client is with the level of service given by the brand.  
  • Usage Rate. This measures the time that clients spend using the product. It can determine whether customers like the product.  
  • User Retention Rate. Similar to usage rate, retention measures the engagement level of customers. Do they continue to use the product? Or have they collectively decided to give up the effort and abandon the product?
  • Time-to-First Value. A valued onboarding metric, time-to-first measures the turnaround time between a product’s first use and the first time it accomplished the customer’s goals. A good onboarding process can often shorten the time between and increase the value.
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Common Pitfalls and How To Avoid Them

Customer onboarding won’t always be a smooth process. Preparation and a well-executed program can improve the chances of success. Unless you have the means to measure results, you won’t know if you accomplished your goals.

Here are the top three common problems many brands encounter during their customer onboarding process:  

Sharing Too Much or Too Little Information

Onboarding requires the delivery of information to properly introduce the product to the customer, walk them through the process and educate them on optimal use. Not having complete information can hamper the learning process. But too much information can overload new customers and make them abandon all efforts at learning. Strike a balance by adhering to your goals and empathizing with end users.

Using a One-Size-Fits-All Approach  

By this time, you should know that individual customers have unique problems. But providing them with a generic onboarding program means you’re assuming everybody has exactly the same issues. Considering the research efforts made on your individual customers, take the time to personalize onboarding programs. This shows them that they’re not empty statistics but real clients with specific requirements.

Ignoring Customer Feedback

Achieving a 100% positive feedback rating is statistically impossible for any brand. It pays to listen to your customers if they find something wrong or lacking in your onboarding program. Considering that you’re expected to produce newer and improved versions of your program now and then, incorporating feedback becomes key to producing a better onboarding program next time.

Exceed Customer Expectations With Ingage

Presentations will always be crucial in welcoming and educating your customers. But using outdated slideshow software can hamper your ability to reach out to your target audience. Instead, choose a modern presentation software that caters to modern buyers everywhere.

Ingage is presentation software that offers interactivity and improved collaboration. With remote teams becoming a standard feature of content teams, Ingage conveniently allows you to operate in the cloud. Instead of having limited access to disk-based platforms, everybody can access and collaborate on the same presentation document wherever they are. Once finished, creators can simply email a link to their clients, so they can view it at their leisure.

Interactive features enable creators to expand the stories they tell. Instead of a linear story, viewers can further explore the presentation by clicking on interactive objects. This way, customers can get as little or as much information as they need. Analytics features also help content teams improve their presentations. The software can track which sections work for your audience and which ones need improvement.

Start fulfilling customer expectations from the outset with interactive presentation software from Ingage. Sign up for a free demo today.  

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