Your small business needs better customer onboarding

All too often you sign up for a service after a lengthy sales process only to be dropped off by a sales rep with no idea of how to move forward and no customer onboarding whatsoever.

Leaving your customers high and dry after they buy is a recipe for disaster. It’s never a great idea to loosen your grip simply because you already took their money. That’s why customer onboarding is so important.

It’s not enough to send them welcome emails and leave them to figure things out. You risk losing them altogether if you don’t take steps to help them understand how your products work—55% of consumers say they’ve returned a product or requested a refund because they didn’t understand how to use it. 

The best way to improve retention and reduce refunds will be to hold their hand through “the setup phase” while helping them understand your brand better.

What is customer onboarding?

Customer onboarding is a process that nurtures new customers and gets them acquainted with how your products and services work. This process starts immediately after a lead converts into a customer. 

The quality of your customer onboarding process sets the stage for how well new customers engage with your business. Good customer onboarding leads to increased customer satisfaction and retention. On the other hand, poor customer onboarding leads to an increase in your customer churn rate.

Why is customer onboarding important?

They say you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. This saying holds true for customer relationships.

Customer onboarding increases the chances that customers integrate your products into their lives. It also helps to build their trust in your product and business as a whole. This will…

  • Decrease churn rate: One of the causes of customer churn is a lack of understanding of how a product works. Customer onboarding is a means of walking your new customers through your products and showing them how to make the most of them. Statistics show that onboarding reduces the churn rate by 67%.
  • Increase customer retention:  Customer acquisition is one piece of the puzzle. However, it is no guarantee that new customers will stick with your business. Through customer onboarding, you get a chance to show your customers the value they stand to gain from using your products and help them get it. This process increases your customer retention rate.
  • Increase brand awareness: Customer onboarding increases customer satisfaction. And satisfied customers are more likely to recommend your business to others. With more satisfied customers spreading the word about your brand, your business will enjoy a broader referral network.

Tips for nailing your customer onboarding process

Here are a few tips for getting started with and nailing your customer onboarding process:

1. Send a welcome package(s)

A first-time customer will most likely remember the friendly gesture or warm smile they were greeted with when they walked through the door of a physical store. In the same way, welcome emails leave a good and lasting impression on your new customers—no wonder they have  86% higher open rates than other marketing and boost long-term engagement by 33%.

Welcome emails give you a shot at re-introducing yourself and setting clear expectations with your new customers. Thanks to automation, you can send a series of personalized welcome emails tailored to the customer’s needs.

 Some items you should include in your welcome package are…

  • Instructions to log in or activate the service they purchased
  • An option to schedule an “onboarding call”
  • Instructions on how to join the community, plus links to social accounts or groups.
  • Introductory content to help them take the first steps in implementing your service.

Making these things easily accessible will goes a long way, and requires very little effort as it can be totally automated.

If you are sending more than one email, make sure each email contains a single call-to-action so as to not overwhelm the customer.

Here’s an example of our “Join the Community” onboarding email.

Having customers join your social communities also gives them an opportunity to see other’s be successful with your services.

2. Get to know your new customers better

Your customers will be a group of people across varying demographics with different interests and preferences. Their needs, challenges, and pain points will be unique, requiring different approaches to helping them solve their problems.

The first step in your customer onboarding process is to understand your customers’ needs.

The easiest way to do this is by collecting some basic information in a form, survey, or even over a call. Ask questions like…

  • “What is your biggest struggle?”
  • “How experienced are you with ______?”
  • “Why are you taking action right now?”

Asking these questions will help your customers understand that you are invested in their success, and allow you to tailor their onboarding experience.

You can use a Groundhogg form to ask a few simple questions at the start of the onboarding journey and save their response to custom fields.

Use custom fields to collect information that will help you tailor the onboarding experience.

3. Get customers to experience value right away

After welcoming your new customers to your small business, you want to strategically lead them toward a valuable outcome so that they can experience success with your product or service. When customers experience value quickly, they are much less likely to churn.

To get them to see the value, choose an easy problem to solve. This is what marketers call “low-hanging fruit.” Then guide your customers through the process of implementing your solution to solve that simple problem.

This gives the customer a quick win and simultaneously buys you time with the customer to solve the bigger problems they may have purchased your solution to solve.

For example, if you are selling a simple service, like a baking course, your first goal may be to introduce the customer to a simple recipe that tastes amazing that they can share with their friends, and save the more difficult activities for later.

4. Simplify the onboarding process

With the constantly reducing attention span of the average consumer, it is easy to lose the engagement of your new customers if you make your onboarding process complex. Consumers want to solve their problems with products that don’t require steep learning curves.

If your customers have to jump through several hoops to understand how to use your products or services, chances are that they will be put off and move to the next available brand.  

A good onboarding process should be as streamlined as possible. Here are some tips to avoid making your onboarding process too complicated.

  • Don’t ask for too much information upfront, only get essentials or provide an option to skip that onboarding step.
  • Don’t require the customer to fill out multiple forms.
  • Don’t bombard the customer with too many emails in a day. One per day is enough!
  • Don’t leave customers to their own devices. Guide them to value in as few steps as possible.

5. Communicate consistently and frequently! (but not too frequently)

It’s important to be accessible during the new customer phase so that customers feel safe and supported. Sending a daily “checking in” email is a good way to handle customer concerns and questions before they turn into refunds.

Making it easy to communicate with you or your support team also ensures that your new customer feels heard. Quality customer support guarantees long-term loyalty to your brand long after they become active users of your products. 

You don’t want to overwhelm your new customers with too much communication though, as they have lives outside of your products. Keep communications concise with clear calls to action.

After the first 2 weeks, reduce onboarding communication to every other day, instead of daily. Reduce frequency as time goes on.

Eventually, your customer will be fully onboarded and they won’t need the hand-holding. But make sure to keep in touch with them so they don’t fall off the bandwagon!

Automating your customer onboarding process

Manual onboarding takes a toll on the productivity of your team, especially when you have a steady influx of new customers. This will require your staff to engage in repetitive tasks that leave room for errors and inconsistencies in your onboarding process.

A better option will be to automate your onboarding using tools designed to carry out repetitive tasks effectively and efficiently. 

Automating your customer onboarding process guarantees consistency in your customer experience across the board. Automation helps to optimize your onboarding workflow by minimizing human touchpoints. Consequently, you free up time for more productive and less mundane tasks.

Using Groundhogg for customer onboarding

If you’re using Groundhogg, we make customer onboarding easy! You can simply import our Customer Onboarding template when adding a new funnel.

Import the New Customer Onboarding funnel template with pre-written welcome emails.

You can check the funnel report to see how customers engage with your onboarding content and track their progress.


Customer onboarding is essential for small businesses looking to improve their user experience and customer satisfaction. Having a rock-solid onboarding experience will no doubt improve your bottom line.

You’ll need a CRM to help implement these strategies, and we can help! Groundhogg is the easy-to-use CRM and marketing automation software that will help you create a seamless onboarding experience for your new customers.

To get started with Groundhogg, you can:

Have questions? Don’t hesitate to shoot us a message!

Picture of Adrian Tobey

Adrian Tobey

Adrian is the founder and lead developer of Groundhogg. He believes that marketing automation should be simple and accessible so any business can use it to grow.

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