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Customer Onboarding Process: Step by Step (Free Template)

When it comes to customer onboarding, we at Process Street have years of experience.

We know the challenges – and love the benefits – of customer onboarding, which is why we’d like to share our knowledge with the public.

But that’s not all! Our free template will guide you through the entire customer onboarding process and ensure your customers remain satisfied.

And, as we’ll discuss later on, happy customers will not only stick around but will also bring others on board.

What is a customer onboarding process?

Onboarding introduces the customer to your product or service while highlighting the value it adds to their lives. Customer onboarding covers everything from sign-up to the first product use.

This process is crucial to get right. A good onboarding experience ensures your customers are engaged, feel they’re getting value, and are happy. 

And happy customers will not only stay with you but also recommend your business to their friends, family, and acquaintances.

And that’s how you get referral traffic, promotion of services, and marketing without even having to do anything.

Customer onboarding process benefits

Taking your new customer through an onboarding process has countless benefits, but here are our top 5:  

  • It assures the customer that they made the right choice
  • It supports the customer as they learn to navigate your product or service
  • It develops a lasting relationship
  • It reduces churn
  • It teaches you what needs improvement (through customer feedback)

Customer onboarding process steps/stages (+ free template)

customer onboarding process

Successful customer onboarding is easy if you stick to the basics.

Basically, treat others as you’d like to be treated.

This may sound cliché, but trust us, if your customers feel engaged, valued, and listened to, they will stay loyal.

So here are 9 steps to completing your customer onboarding process and making it a success:

Step 1: Send a welcome email

Thank your customer for their purchase in the welcome email. Establishing this communication early on will affirm their sense of value to your company. 

It’s important for your customer to know they won’t be abandoned as soon as you have their money. A welcome email is the first step. 

Step 2: Send an in-app message

You also want to send an in-app message. This should be visible the first time they log in.

It doesn’t have to be long. A quick ‘Welcome, we’re glad you’re here!’ will suffice.

And it’s also good to know that all these welcome messages and emails can be automated with apps like Slack, Zapier, and Process Street.

Step 3: Provide a guided tutorial

A guided tutorial will allow your new customer to familiarize themselves with your product step-by-step. You can also add an option to skip the tutorial, but giving your customer a choice is always a good idea.

Workflows are great for this purpose. They provide a clear, structured way of completing tasks. You can also tailor workflows to suit your specific needs as they change over time.

For example, Process Street workflows offer the option of starting with a pre-made template or completely from scratch. From there, both are easily customized as much or as little as you’d like them to be.

Step 4: Guide your customer to start using your product/service

In addition to self-guided tutorials, you’ll want to introduce your product with a hands-on approach. Make sure they understand its value.

This is because offering tutorials and guiding customers are two separate things.

Essentially, you’ll want to ensure the customer knows as much as possible about your product. And this can only be achieved by providing both self-learning and guided learning.

Guided learning involves hopping on a call together to literally chaperone the customer through your product. 

Show them all the cool features, and answer all the questions. 

That’s how your customer will know your product is the real deal.

Step 5: Point out different features

Not all of your customers will be interested in the same features. Be aware of your customer’s needs and what’s important to them to offer the best value. 

Once you’ve established a relationship, you can explore additional features with your customer.

Simply focus their attention on what they need, but always offer the option to explore additional features. That way, you’ll save your customer’s time and keep their specific interest top of mind.

Step 6: Show the value of your product through a walkthrough

At Process Street, our customers have access to a dedicated customer success representative who is always open to supporting them throughout the onboarding process.

During a walkthrough call, we aim to show off our product and all the relevant features to a specific customer. 

We make this a highly personalized experience by building a new demo for each customer and gearing it toward their individual needs.

So, firstly, we ask the customer what kind of process they are interested in the most. We then make a demo build using that process.

Lastly, we get back on a call together to walk the customer through the product, show relevant features, what the product can do, possible automations, and tutorials.

That way, we can ensure the customer knows how the product works and how it can help them personally.

Step 7: Offer FAQs and help documents

FAQs and help documents will also come in handy because they allow customers to look up things for themselves.

This also gives them more independence to do things on their own and not be reliant on a CSM.

Such resources will also save time and help avoid your customer service team having to answer frequently repeated questions.

But it’s vital to keep those documents updated so that the customer can always access the most up-to-date information.

Step 8: Schedule routine check-ins

Check-ins, whether via a call, email, or a survey, are important because they make your customers feel valued and listened to.

Try to schedule check-in frequently, but make sure you don’t overwhelm your customer. That said, most customers would benefit from a monthly check-in.

And don’t forget about customer feedback. 

If a customer says they aren’t happy with something or need more of something, and it isn’t responded to (even with, “we don’t have that yet”), the customer feels like they aren’t being listened to.

Step 9: Celebrate customer-centric milestones

Build customer-centric milestones and celebrate them with your customers. This can be achieved via sending a quick email or an in-app notification.

It’s worth remembering that celebrating milestones breeds engagement. 

Customer onboarding process use cases

Below are examples of some customer onboarding use cases that may help you better understand why and how different-sized companies deal with onboarding processes.

Use case A: Enterprise customer onboarding process

Whether you’re onboarding a new enterprise customer or you are an enterprise organization looking to improve your onboarding experience, you’re going to face the same challenges: 

  1. Slower response time
  2. Confusing paperwork
  3. Lots of manual tasks

As you can imagine, this can be highly complicated and take a lot of time and effort, not only from one person but from the whole team.

However, many enterprises have come up with ways to streamline their onboarding to make it as quick and efficient as possible.

A great example could be a software company closing a large enterprise customer with a complex set of internal requirements and compliance considerations.

One of the first things to do will be to exchange necessary information and establish a roadmap for deliverables to manage customer expectations. 

You’ll also need to loop in the required stakeholders to welcome them to your business and reassure them that they’ve made the right decision.

With a clearly documented process for onboarding clients like there, you can:

  • Improve process compliance
  • Reduce human error
  • Automate manual tasks
  • Integrate with other systems in their tech stack
  • Give the customer everything they need to get started with their product

Use case B: SMB SaaS startup customer onboarding process

SMB companies and their processes differ significantly from enterprises, but they have one thing in common – customers.

They, too, often struggle with onboarding new customers in a way that would make the process faster, use fewer resources, and be smarter.

Their focus is less on the number of customers they need to onboard and more on how to automate and integrate the process.

So they’re looking for ways to integrate the apps they’re already using and make the onboarding more of a personalized experience for the customer.

Being a start-up, they work more intimately with customers and assign customer success representatives to help them learn and excel with the product.

So how do they do it?

  • They utilize workflows to help gather data
  • They make use of walkthrough videos and guides
  • Their customer success rep makes sure the customer is well-taken care of

What’s more, by using workflow automation, they’ll be able to offer a personalized experience for each customer despite being a small team.

Use case C: IT MSP customer onboarding process

An IT MSP company is installing a suite of new servers for a client. 

They will need to gather specific information to complete the job and make sure everything is executed, handed off, and the customer is satisfied.

So to achieve that, they’ll need the following:

  • To gather information about their client and their needs
  • Conduct legal and financial checks
  • Ensure all tasks are completed and handed off
  • Ensure they execute the process in a timely fashion
  • Ensure the customer remains satisfied throughout the process

The process will likely take a long time, need resources, and involve many people. 

But it can also be streamlined considerably.

And the best way to do this would be by taking advantage of workflows, integrations, and automations.

Why?

  1. Customer could easily fill out a workflow to provide information fast
  2. Conducting checks and handing off tasks would be automated
  3. The whole process would be completed in one place thanks to integrating DocuSign, Jira, and more

And the best part?

The customer will be happy with the speedy process and express communication, while the company can focus on onboarding the next customer.

Customer onboarding process automation template

Customer onboarding automation may seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.

Below is an example template we use at Process Street to onboard new customers. 

We designed this template to reduce the workload for you, your team, and your clients by automating the onboarding process from start to finish.

In a nutshell, automations allow you to build custom workflows by passing data and triggering actions to and from other apps. 

Each automation has an action and a trigger. For example, let’s say you want to automatically send a message in Slack when a workflow task is completed. 

The trigger in this instance would be “complete task,” and the action would be “send Slack message.” 

Process Street is able to integrate with over 2,000 other apps, such as: 

  • Salesforce
  • DocuSign
  • Jira
  • Slack
  • Google Sheets

If you’re intrigued and ready to make customer onboarding effortless, why not check out our free demo (no credit card required)?

Customer onboarding process optimization

There are essentially 3 steps to optimizing the customer onboarding process. Each is important because it will increase retention and reduce costs.

1.    Get the RIGHT kind of customer

Having a relationship with a customer is like having any other relationship: You need the right person for the job.

One of the most frustrating things is finding someone who will leave you after a month of “dating”, simply because you couldn’t meet their expectations.

Get it right, and your customers will stay with you long-term.

The key is marketing. In other words, know your product, what it does (and doesn’t do), and who it will benefit the most. You want to clarify what your offer is and what it isn’t.

This will let the right kind of customer through the door, while the wrong ones will simply go elsewhere. And that’s okay!

Avoid having an “I’ve got to raise acquisition quickly” mentality because it will likely cost you. 

After all, you don’t want unsubscriptions and bad reviews.

2.    Build a fantastic customer onboarding process

Once you’ve established the kind of customer you want and the goals you want to achieve, it’s time to build an amazing customer onboarding process.

By taking advantage of onboarding workflows, you will stay organized, save time and money, and, most importantly, make things easier for your customer.

The key takeaway is that workflows automate the onboarding process and use simple psychology to encourage productivity, motivation, and better time management.

3.    Listen to customer feedback

In the end, customer onboarding is created with the customer in mind. Therefore it goes without saying that their feedback will be invaluable to you and the business.

By listening to the customer’s experience, you’ll be able to improve the process and make it even better in the future.

A great way to gather feedback is by utilizing customer surveys. They will help you determine precisely what is and isn’t working in your onboarding process.

Moreover, surveys allow you to connect with your customers and make them feel like their opinion matters because it should!

The future of customer onboarding process

Imagine for a second that you’re a customer. You’re looking for a workflow software package that will make your life easier by automating all your internal processes. 

You’ve shopped around. You’ve looked at countless websites and social media channels, and read hundreds of reviews. You’ve spent hours searching for the right product. One that will be worth investing your hard-earned money in.

At last, you’ve found what seems like a good deal. The company’s marketing is on point. They have excellent reviews and a vast social media following. 

“Great!” you think to yourself, proudly clicking the “purchase” button.

But that’s when your happiness stalls. You have to learn everything about the product yourself, without guidance. You feel tricked, in a way, because you’d assumed you’d be offered help.

Now. Let’s flip this around.

You’ve found a suitable product. You purchased it. And as soon as you did, a welcome email appeared in your inbox. You receive all your log-ins instantly. You’re also offered a comprehensive product overview, a library of pre-made templates, a phone number, and an online chat in case you need support.

Now, you decide. Which company would you stay with long-term?

The future is in your hands.

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