First impressions aren’t everything, but they account for more than most of us think. The same is true for customer onboarding.
A great onboarding experience can make everything else easier and almost guarantee that your customers will continue buying from you. A weak onboarding experience will make it all an uphill climb, and sometimes you’ll never recover from it.
The real purpose of onboarding is to help your customer reach value as soon as possible. The way you accomplish that is through strategic interaction with your customer success team, a finely orchestrated training program, and just-in-time access to knowledge resources.
The problem is that customer onboarding is complicated, with new customers coming in all the time, too many people to train, varying locations, languages and different levels of product knowledge.
To do it right, you need good technology. Especially if your company is growing rapidly and stretching resources thin. You need a customer onboarding platform, sometimes referred to as a customer learning platform, to automate as much as possible.
8 things to look for in a customer onboarding platform
Your strategic customers need special attention. They need training portals that appear to be custom built for them. Make sure you get multi-tenant portals to deliver your content and training for specific clients, departments, or customer groupings. With dedicated portals, each customer can make it their own and override theme settings such as layouts, colors, fonts and logos. This allows you to present branded experiences to each set of learners without the need to maintain multiple versions of the same content.
Built-in Content Authoring
Customers expect highly professional training that’s available on-demand, not just in live webinars and one-on-one training. There are plenty of good 3rd party tools to build content, but it will save you a lot of time and frustration if your customer learning platform has it built in. An integrated content creation tool allows you to make revisions easily and takes advantage of a variety of integrated content and page types such as assessments and quizzes. It needs to also help customers connect with social collaboration capabilities such as discussion boards, instructor feedback, and webcam video responses.
In-App Training Dashboards
Everyone at each of your customers is progressing at different paces to learn how to get value out of your product. If you’re a software company, your customers may find it hard to find the right training. They may need to jump through hoops looking for passwords, and searching through too many training options. Make sure your customer learning platform includes a widget that you can put into your software so your learners will always know the training they need with one-click access to their own learning paths, events, courses and gamification.
Someone once said that a trained customer is a happy customer, but a certified customer is an enthusiast. Managing and keeping track of a certification program can be a bear though. Make sure your customer learning platform has a built-in certification engine to reduce complexity, so that the process is easy to manage, update, and document.
Software Embedded Training
Customers really learn to use your product by using it, so if you can integrate live exercises and step-by-step product training into the onboarding process, your time to value is much shorter. Get a customer learning platform that allows you to embed your software inside the learning tool, so it’s right there and always available for step by step walk-throughs and exercises in a safe environment.
If you’re monetizing your training, using subscriptions or just need to make sure your IP is protected, then you need to be able to license content. Make sure it’s built into your system and make sure you have advanced eCommerce.
White Labeled Platform
In the eyes of your customers, your training platform is a reflection of your product. If the platform is old and cumbersome technology or doesn’t match the look of your brand, then your customers will be off to a rocky start. Make sure you get a perfect complement to your look and feel with seamless brand-matching of your apps and website. To establish more unique and interactive designs, you need to be able to easily add in custom HTML and CSS to alter the online experience.
Integrations: CRMs, Marketing Automation, Conferencing, eCommerce, etc.
If you’re like most, you’re using Salesforce, GoToWebinar, Hubspot and other tools that are essential in the customer onboarding process. Your customer learning platform needs to integrate seamlessly with all of these and take advantage of the important data that flows through these systems.
Customer onboarding can be hard and it will tax your resources. But doing it really well is incredibly important for the survival of your company. Be proactive in building a customer onboarding program from the beginning that takes advantage of a good customer learning platform. It’s not too late to create a positive first impression and lead your customers to value.