The scariest thing about customer onboarding

With a lot at stake, the customer onboarding phase can be daunting. Fret not, we have you covered. Read on for some invaluable solutions
October 31, 2021
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It's that time of the year when you wear your fangs and take a coffin break!

Rocketlane kickstarted the Halloween Heist with a social media poll and video campaign. Keeping in tune with the name of the campaign, over the past few weeks, we cumulated the popular votes from each poll and showcased them via popular Brooklyn Nine-Nine memes. 

Now, we know the number 666 is sometimes viewed as an invocation of Satan and regarded as cursed. But, with an action plan to ward off all evils, we present the 666 series, where we nitpick the 6 findings and 6 problems faced with customer onboarding and provide 6 solutions to avoid them. 

Off we go a-haunting!

What is the scariest part of customer onboarding?

Imagine being zapped away to some faraway land by the swish of a witch's wand. You have no clue where you are, and you do not know what to do. You are scared. You are lost.

Abrakadouch! That ought to be spooky. 

Now, a customer feels the same kind of lost when they explore your product for the very first time. They need much handholding during this phase. The customer onboarding phase is your first step towards building a tremendous customer-vendor relationship. Your customer's first interactions with the product and brand need to be made memorable. 

Customer onboarding sets your customer up to derive value from your product. If you can get your customers to see the value in your product during this stage, it can lead to customer success. Customer onboarding also tends to lay a foundation for long-lasting collaborative relationships with your customers. With a lot at stake, the customer onboarding phase can seem quite terrifying. 

In the spirit of Halloween, we ran a poll asking voters, 'What scares you out of your wits about customer onboarding?' 36.2% of voters said they were scared about expectation management. 32.3% were terrified about shifting project scopes, while 19.2% were afraid of missing deadlines, and 12.3% were horrified by customer escalations. 

Through the rest of this blog, we share some invaluable solutions to overcome these fears. 

Expectation management

The customer onboarding phase is right after your customer has invested a significant amount of their time and money to pick your product but is yet to experience their investment returns. At this stage, if your customer asks you a complex question and you show them a smokescreen, they are sure to lose faith in you and your product/service. This erosion of trust at such an early stage is sure to hamper the customer's satisfaction levels. And low satisfaction levels, in turn, lead to customer churn. Now that would be a true nightmare, wouldn't it? 

  1. To expertly handle expectation management, begin by setting realistic expectations with your customer. 
  2. Understand what problems customers are trying to solve by using your product.
  3. Establish open and transparent communication across multiple levels, thereby helping bridge the purchase-to-post-sale gap for the customer. 
  4. Keep communications in a simple and easy-to-consume format with the customer. 
  5. Set clear timelines and openly discuss solutions for all things that may go awry. 
  6. Follow up regularly with support systems in place to minimize risks of customer ghosting. 
  7. While it is imperative to remain optimistic throughout the project, it is also essential to be realistic. In such circumstances, reset and adjust expectations along the way.

Shifting project scope

You have a bad case of scope creep when the project ends up diverging from its originally-stated outline. Scope creep is the silent villain of businesses everywhere. It robs you of your profit margins, eats away at productivity, stresses out your team, kills deadlines, and leaves in its wake dissatisfied customers and a wrecked reputation. 

  1. To confront the devil in all its forms, begin by creating a precise statement of work
  2. Creating a good scope of work is both an art and a science, and in its foundation lies excellent communication and negotiation powers to get all stakeholders to agree on the same things. 
  3. From milestones, deliverables, communication, budget, and timeframe, document everything. 
  4. Always have a plan to identify and deal with any last-minute scope changes and pivots. 
  5. Evaluate what needs to change and understand the need for such change.
  6. Consider all implications it may have on the schedule and budget.
  7. Ensure you effectively communicate reasonable and implementable scope changes to your team. 
  8. Also, set the deal on transparency and accountability from both sides. 
  9. Utilize a project tracker to keep up with schedules and stay within budget. 
  10. Investing in customer onboarding software will save you from the clutches of scope creep. 

Missed deadlines

Deadlines are unavoidable but they keep you accountable, help prioritize your work and give that extra push to make you work harder. Missing deadlines however, happens even to the best. It may be due to low visibility into project progress, an unexpected delay from your team, or even last evening's dinner gone wrong. With the fast-approaching deadline, panic begins to set in, and the butterflies in your stomach have a gala party. All this while, there is your customer just left in the dark, waiting, not knowing what is happening. 

  1. To keep looming deadlines and milestones in sight, plan, track, optimize, repeat. 
  2. Define roles and identify tasks to eliminate uncertainty and avoid backlogs, thus ensuring accountability. 
  3. Chart out a comprehensive time frame to track progress and ensure everyone stays productive. 
  4. Regular review and revisiting of plans help understand how the project progresses. 
  5. Always stay on top of deadlines: project tracking from the very beginning is the secret. 

Managing customer escalations

When any mishaps occur during the customer onboarding process, pressures tend to mount and give rise to escalations. And quite naturally, customers want their escalations resolved promptly and efficiently. But the escalation experience in itself can be nerve-racking for you. At times, even interactions with a benign customer can escalate quickly. While dealing with an unhappy customer, using words or phrases that help instill calm, trust, and credibility are imperative.

  1. Go about it by being proactive and stay prepared for the inevitable. 
  2. Anticipate that you will need to lend a helping hand to the customer and introduce them in advance to those who will handle their issues. 
  3. Allow the customer to rant. Listen, empathize, and apologize to them as communication is vital during escalations.  
  4. Set up a process to review, revisit, revitalize, and remediate what can be done better in the future. 
  5. Measure customer satisfaction at every phase of the process.
  6. Search for the silver lining during such escalations and work twice as hard to build trust and make unhappy customers into lifetime subscribers. 

So, what’s next? 

Well, customer onboarding may seem like a complex game of darts. But hit the target right, and it will do wonders for your customer retention and brand loyalty. To help you refine your customer onboarding process, we've created a collaborative customer onboarding platform called Rocketlane. With Rocketlane, you get that zoomed-out, 30000 feet view into all your ongoing customer-facing projects. Rocketlane also unifies all your typically separated experiences such as tasks, updates, and documents into one collaborative platform. With everything under one roof, Rocketlane saves you from the hassles of using multiple tools and helps you stay on top of tasks and deadlines.
If you would like to take Rocketlane for a spin, check us out here.

More resources

  1. Implementation Stories
  2. Preflight Conversations
  3. The Launch Station - a podcast for all things customer onboarding
  4. Customer onboarding resources from Rocketlane

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Shuvedha Subramaniam
Content Marketer @ Rocketlane

Marketing analyst @ Rocketlane. An Advocate by choice and a penwoman for the love of it. When the world zips, I like to zoink. Also, being happy by being kind.

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