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How to Do Onboarding Process Automation for Customer Success

Feb 9, 2024

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Onboarding Process Automation | New customer acquisition is not so easy in today’s climate. And when you have finally won a new customer, the onboarding process is a pivotal moment when you move from courtship, then commitment to customer retention. While Sales was that phase where first impressions were formed, Onboarding is the one where the foundations for long-term relationships are established.

Customer onboarding process automation

However, manual onboarding processes are increasingly falling short in the digital age. This is where onboarding automation steps in, offering a streamlined, efficient, and personalised experience for your customers or users. Let me share why and how to automate your onboarding campaigns and also how you can demonstrate the benefits of doing so with solid data. It’s a win-win proposition. Let me show you.

Why Automate Your Onboarding Campaigns?

Before I give a neat list of reasons, let me share a story. Yesterday afternoon I got an email from a software vendor asking for my help in retaining a client who may soon defect them. The problem in the client’s words: “We don’t do much with the software. You never quite finished the initial training, and the connector to our CRM does not work.”

Meanwhile, this client is a multinational; its revenue potential for the software vendor is huge. The cost of winning this client must have been huge too.

A win-back plan is a must. But it’s not that this client ‘got off the rails’; it’s that they never got ‘on the rails’. The CRM connector does not work! The lack of a connector minimises this software to a not-so-amazing standalone gadget instead of the integrated platform extension it can be: a megaphone for client communication. No training, so no feedback loop in place to learn of connector issues early on. In short, the onboarding process failed.

Now back to my question: why automate your onboarding campaigns?

1. It’s about Consistency and Scalability

Imagine being able to provide every new customer or user with the same high-quality onboarding experience regardless of how many are joining your platform. Automation ensures that your onboarding process remains consistent, no matter how fast your user base grows. No one, like this software vendor’s poor client, falls through the crack. An automated onboarding campaign results in an immediate positive impression, setting the stage for trust and engagement, but also that all the onboarding process steps, such as setting up connector software and user training are properly dealt with.

2. It’s about Time Efficiency

Your team’s time is a valuable resource. Automation frees them up from routine, time-consuming tasks. By automating onboarding, your team can focus on strategic and creative aspects, such as designing better onboarding content, analysing data, and personalising the experience. There is a HUGE difference between an on-the-spot handwritten onboarding email from a busy manager, versus one that’s researched and crafted by a professional email marketer with the input from the Sales, Service and Delivery teams. With the latter in place, the handwritten ‘note’ from the manager is a perfect completion of feeling welcomed and supported. But without the automated, and very informative email, the customer would still want ‘a call’, wonder what’s next, etc.

3. Personalisation at Scale

According to a study by Epsilon, personalised emails have an 80% higher open rate. That also counts for onboarding email, of course. This may seem counterintuitive to some people, but by automation, you allows yourself to leverage data and analytics to craft personalised messages and experiences for each customer or user way better than you would when ‘just sending a quick email now’. Tailoring the onboarding journey to their unique needs and preferences increases the likelihood of engagement and satisfaction. Makes sense?

4. Data-Driven Insights

Automation generates valuable data on user behaviour and interaction with your onboarding materials. This data offers insights into what works, where users encounter obstacles, and how to continually improve the onboarding process. You can track and measure the effectiveness of your campaigns, enabling data-driven decision-making.

5. Customer Retention

Customer retention is one of the most compelling reasons to automate your onboarding. According to research by Invesp, organisations with a well-structured onboarding process see an 82% increase in customer retention. Do we need more facts to support your investment in onboarding automation that that? Effective onboarding creates a strong bond with customers, making them more likely to stick around.

How to Implement Customer Onboarding Process Automation

Hopefully you’re convince by now. Let’s get started. This is how you implement onboarding process automation:

1. Segmentation

Start by segmenting your customers or users based on their needs, behaviours, or personas. This segmentation allows you to tailor the onboarding experience to each group, ensuring that the content is relevant and engaging.

onboarding automation | automating onboarding processes

2. Personalisation

Leverage the data you’ve collected to send personalised welcome messages, educational content, and support resources. Personalisation increases user engagement and significantly enhances the effectiveness of your onboarding campaigns.

3. Automated Emails

Automation is instrumental in scheduling a series of onboarding emails to be delivered at the right time intervals. These emails serve as a strategic guide for your users, leading them through the onboarding journey. We all have received such email series, and know, that sometimes …. we lose momentum, or … we lose track. By having a series of clearly marked emails that belong together, customers can go into their inbox and just follow along the journey they want to and know they should be taking onboarding with you, your software, your services, your company.

As reported by GetResponse, the use of automation tools can increase email click-through rates by an average of 14.31%.

4. User Engagement Tracking

Effective onboarding automation goes beyond sending emails; it includes monitoring how users interact with your onboarding materials. Identify drop-off points, areas where users may need additional assistance, and which elements of your onboarding process are the most engaging. “What you don’t measure, you can’t improve”… is not just for your gym workouts. This applies to you supporting your customers’ onboarding process.

5. Feedback Loops

Feedback is invaluable for refinement. Establish feedback loops to collect insights from users. Use their feedback to continually refine and improve your onboarding process. User input can lead to enhancements that will ultimately benefit both your users and your business.

This topic may be hush-hushed at times, but … implementing new software can be very stressful and political in some companies. While in some countries, the discussions can get heated, in others, employees can mysteriously call in sick at critical moments. By offering an (anonymous) feedback mechanism, you can gain insights into the blindspots of the customers onboarding and adoption process. Your staff can then offer your clients help, exactly when they need it the most. So, a feedback survey email can go a long way on the path of healthy and happy onboarding.

Success Metrics: What to Measure

To evaluate the success of your onboarding automation, consider these key performance indicators:

  1. User Activation Rate: The percentage of users who complete specific actions or achieve a desired outcome within your platform.
  2. Time-to-Value: The period it takes for users to realise the value of your product or service after onboarding.
  3. Churn Rate: The number of users who discontinue their engagement with your platform after onboarding.
  4. Conversion Rates: Track conversions from trial users to paid customers as a result of effective onboarding.
  5. Customer Satisfaction: Use metrics like NPS (Net Promoter Score) or CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) surveys to gauge user satisfaction.

Some of these metrics are direct indicators of likely future revenue in some businesses. Other metrics would indicate what’s at risk. All metrics can indicate when you need a ‘winback’ campaign is needed.

Conclusion: Unlocking the Power of Onboarding Automation

Automating your onboarding campaigns is not merely a convenience; it’s a strategic move that can significantly impact customer satisfaction, customer engagement, retention, and overall success. The statistics paint a compelling picture: higher open rates, increased conversions, and reduced churn.

By incorporating onboarding automation into your marketing arsenal, you’re embracing a more efficient, personalised, and data-driven approach to customer engagement.

Interested to learn how we can help you with this:

Onboarding Process FAQ

Fascinated by the process of onboarding, and want to know more about the basics of setting it up, rather than automate it? No problem. Click the links below to learn more:

What is onboarding?

Onboarding is how new customers or users are familiarised with their new software and your organisation’s various departments, services and values, as a software provider. Or how employees are integrated into your company and familiarised with your management teams and business model.

The onboarding process often consists of an orientation and official training Employees may also be given reference materials on job specifications, products and services. When done correctly, onboarding helps engage new customers, users or employees from the beginning and drives loyalty, retention and productivity.

What are the 4 phases of onboarding?

Onboarding usually follows these 4 phases:

1: Pre-Onboarding.
2: Onboarding and Welcoming Newcomers
3: Training.
4: Transition to New World.

What are the 5 Cs’ of onboarding?

The five Cs of onboarding are: Compliance, Clarification, Culture, Connection, and Checking back. While this model of onboarding originates from HR, it is utterly useable as a framework for the content of your marketing automation emails in the onboarding journey for customers, users and employees alike.

What are the onboarding process steps?

A recent article by Forbes shared these steps to building a successful onboarding process. While it was intended for employees, all points are relevant to you setting up your customer onboarding process as well:
1. Invest in software with onboarding features, e.g. Pardot marketing automation software.
2. Set the length of your onboarding process.
3. Structure your pre-boarding process.
4. Design your Day 1.
5. Define roles, set goals, explain performance indicators and company values/ways of working.
6. Execute ongoing check-ins.

The onboarding process often consists of an orientation and official training. Onboarders may also be given reference materials on job specifications, products and services. When done correctly, onboarding helps engage new customers, users or employees from the beginning, and drives loyalty, retention and productivity.

Interested to learn more?

We would be very happy to help you.