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Customer Success: The Importance of Customer Onboarding

Customer onboarding is one of the more delicate components of marketing. This process can make or break a business. In addition to increasing the revenue, it also allows businesses to create relationships with their customers.

Customers form a vital component of a business. When they say keeping the business alive, they refer to the sale of products and services.

Sales that take place or the user base that grows can be distinguished into two separate groups: the first time and short term customers and the long term customer base.

The first time customers will be contributors to the initial revenue that one receives but will soon lose interest in the product or service.

The latter group of customers will see a long term benefit in the product or service and will therefore stick around.

This is the basis of customer onboarding.

When Does Onboarding Begin for Customers

Onboarding is the process that begins when the customer decides to pay for a service or product. Although this is where the customer undergoes the initial stages of onboarding, it is not the end of the process. This process ends with an individual becoming a regular patron of a business.

In addition to making that first sale, a customer is only said to be on board when they repeat their purchases. This is how a typical customer journey goes.

Let us take an example of the sales that take place on a clothing ecommerce website to understand a successful customer onboarding process.

New customers may be pouring into an ecommerce site. But having an immense amount of traction in the first week may not be considered a successful onboarding, as a steep incline in sales is not a metric to factor in.

This is because the first time users can fall in either of the two categories mentioned above.

In fact, the customer retention curve can have its ups and downs figuratively as well as literally. The measure of successful onboarding is repeat sales from a new customer over a period.

If statistics are to be believed, around 55% of the masses claim to have returned products because they were unable to understand the exact procedure of use.

Why Is Customer Onboarding So Important

A company needs to generate a standard amount of revenue each month if not more, which is what customers churn with their purchases. This may be easier in the earlier months where the novelty of owning that product or obtaining this service is still very much present.

However, as the months roll by, it can be difficult to maintain the same sales or perception of one’s products and services. The novelty attached to one’s business, in the beginning, wears off over time. The process of customer onboarding prevents this drastic churn rate.

Establish a Plan for Customer Onboarding

The plan to carry out a successful customer onboarding process is simple when we think about the objective.

The only objective is the retention of customers or decreasing the churn rate. Therefore, one’s efforts should be directed towards that.

Businesses can achieve this by breaking down the process into small parts, as given below:

  • Set a demographic

As is the case with many businesses, choosing the right demographic is crucial; this is how a business achieves success. The harsh truth is, it is difficult to advertise the same commodity to all age groups. This is because as we age, our wants and needs change too. Therefore, one must have the essential knowledge of one’s target demographic.

  • Understand the market

Nothing is more damaging to a customer base other than bad market conditions. There could be many reasons for this; from saturation to calamities. Therefore, one has to analyse the market beforehand to achieve success with your product.

  • A reminder of the value

Once the product has seen its release, a business will work towards outlining the various benefits that a customer achieves with its services or products. This is a crucial component of the marketing strategy.

  • Communication is key

After attaining a sale, it would be advisable for the business to keep in touch with the customer. This contact must be maintained for two reasons. The first being feedback regarding the product, and the other being customer service.

  • Alter but don’t change

Smartphones undergo alterations, both big and small after very short intervals. So do many other commodities and even services from say, a SaaS company. One must always enhance their product to stay relevant. These alterations can be small or big but remember to highlight the new changes always.

Your business will benefit greatly by following the template given below for marketing a product or services online.

  • Welcome: This step can be carried out through an introductory pop up on the screen or through an email. At present, a welcome email is a popular option among websites at the moment.
  • Setting up: The process of setting up can be overwhelming, especially for an older demographic. It would be advisable to create a guided message outlining all the steps that one should follow.
  • Filling in empty spaces: The empty webpages are the first thing a new user will see. However, it doesn’t need to be so deserted and lonely, as most websites use this space to showcase certain features or highlight tips.
  • Essential features: A website has several components like a header, slider, footer etc. Therefore, these components find use in showcasing special features.
  • FAQ’s: This section is also known as a knowledge base and will be the most useful to confused clients.
  • Checking in: This applies to the websites that cater to progress-based** **services and products. For example, exercise and diet websites.
  • Celebrating: This aspect of the website is important in building that personal relationship with a customer.

The Method of Customer Onboarding

Customer Onboarding is an intensive process spanning approximately 10 weeks. An individual will be invested in the products and services of a business for ten weeks. However, it is possible to prevent this drop in interest with a few steps and tons of marketing and customer success teams.

  • Promotion

In the first few weeks since the release of the product, the company’s main focus is to promote to as many people as humanly or digitally possible. This promotion lays the foundation of customer onboarding. Depending on the marketing strategy and functionality of the product, a customer will aim to use it shortly.

  • Habituation

This is the second phase in the customer onboarding experience. A customer will have to become habituated to the product and/or service. This habituation will create a predictable pattern of usage.

  • Requirement

The last and final phase is making the customer believe that they cannot live without the product or service. A customer will only become a long term patron if they see one of two things: if the product becomes a want or a need, a solution to their pain point. In the end, both scenarios will end with the customer viewing the product as a requirement.

Onboarding Customers Makes You Grow Faster

In order to understand this, one can turn to the success of Multi-Level Marketing companies and their team members. The basic working principle of an MLM is word of mouth. The products or services of the company are marketed by the very customers or former customers of the company. In a sense, customer onboarding is the same. It is common knowledge that the best form of marketing is word of mouth.

In addition to receiving free marketing, one will also understand their customers better. The reason for this is that the sales team will be in contact with individual customers. This allows them to get to know them better. Thus, it is easier to understand the likes and dislikes of their customers. In addition to this, the pain points of the customer regarding the website or its services will also come to light during an onboarding phone call.


Customer onboarding is one of the more delicate components of marketing. This process can make or break a business. In addition to increasing the revenue, it also allows businesses to create relationships with their customers through surveys or even phone calls. The most significant benefits of customer onboarding are that an individual can have an unprecedented amount of faith in the company and product.


Karl Wittig

Written by Karl Wittig

Karl is the AVP of Customer Success at LoginRadius, the industry leading Consumer IAM provider. He thrives in fast paced high tech environments working closely with Customers to overcome complex Identity related challenges as part of their digital transformations. Outside of work, he spends his time with his family in and around Vancouver hiking, snowboarding and exploring.

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