“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression” is an adage we’ve all heard before. Indeed, first impressions are often lasting ones. Customer onboarding is the very first experience — the first impression — that the customer will have with your offering, and it’s critical to get it right. If you don’t, and you fail at demonstrating value for your customer at the beginning of your relationship, it will impact the customer’s ability to achieve value long-term.

Many fail to understand that the decision to renew is made in the first 90 days of the post-sale journey, making onboarding success a leading indicator of the future health of that customer relationship. And in the current economic climate, with fears of a pending recession looming on the horizon, organizations must be laser-focused on ensuring that customers are successful from the start. If not, the organization risks future adoption, growth, and advocacy. In other words, organizations risk revenue, to the tune of over $136 billion a year in avoidable customer churn in the US alone.

Organizations that approach onboarding as a strategic process ensure that they’re aligned with the customer on their definition of success with their offering. This line of action better positions them for long-term adoption. As customer leaders look to design and execute a successful onboarding strategy, they must consider how to:

  • Accelerate time to value. Define value early, and develop a framework to measure it. Develop milestones based on best practices that connect back to the reasons why they invested in your product. Focus on driving quick wins to build confidence and avoid the customer becoming disengaged.
  • Define roles and responsibilities. Onboarding requires multiple steps and stakeholders; each team must execute its role based on established goals and expectations. Avoid information silos and potential turf wars by aligning your internal teams and clearly outlining responsibilities, rallying them around the shared mission to deliver value quickly.
  • Develop a plan for success. Leverage success plans to drive customers toward agreed-upon success milestones. Evolve this plan and the milestones over time to continue moving them forward on a journey of value. Be as prescriptive as possible when setting goals, detailing the “how” and the “what” needed to reach the customer’s expected outcomes. Make sure to include any other key information that accurately captures the customer’s needs.

Customer onboarding is ultimately about providing the appropriate experience for your customers to adopt your offering, giving them the ability to leverage it to achieve their outcomes. If done well, it can create a solid foundation for those relationships, setting them on the path to value realization. If not, the success and growth of your business is put at substantial risk. Read Retention Starts At Onboarding to learn how to optimize the customer onboarding experience to retain customers and secure future growth.