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Onboarding: The first step to improved customer retention

Written by: Jim Bergeson
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Every year billions of dollars are spent across thousands of industries—whether it’s automotive, pharma, technology, telecommunications or retail—to bring new customers to a brand, product or service.

As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Your sales team has worked tirelessly to close the sale with your newly acquired customer. Are you making a good first impression by providing a great set of first experiences after the sale with that customer?

customer loyalty

Many companies simply move on to more customer acquisition instead of ensuring the customers they worked so hard to acquire stay with them, have a great customer experience, and continue to get value from their products or services.

develop through onboardingAll too often, we see fewer resources or effort put towards the first step of consumer retention – onboarding.

Customer onboarding may be one of the most critical touchpoints or milestones in your customer lifecycle. It really is the first step toward retaining that new customer.

So how should you approach onboarding your new customers? One good place to start is to look at all the firsts that new customers may experience. Products and services can vary greatly and the firsts you may experience with them can be so different as well.

But if you carefully examine your customer experience after the initial purchase, what happens next? Look for firsts:

  • Is there a first instruction on how to use the product?
  • Is there a first time when you might have to service or provide maintenance to the product?
  • What might the first experience with customer service look like?
  • What happens when a first installment payment is made?
  • What does your first communication with the customer look like after the sale?
  • Is there a first request to complete a warranty card?
  • How does your first cross-selling opportunity work?
  • How are you treating that customer on their first anniversary with your product or service?

Some customer experience firsts can come right after the initial purchase. Some come later in your customer lifecycle. All are critical touchpoints or milestones in building a more engaged customer relationship and affect your ability to retain customers over time.

Onboarding is often overlooked or an undervalued step in the customer retention lifecycle journey. But when you look at all the first opportunities you have to engage new customers within a well-planned onboarding strategy – more can be delivered to your bottom line.

customer loyalty marketing

Research shows that customers who continue to support your brand over time will spend on average 60 percent or more than new customers and it takes 6-7 times more money to acquire a new customer than to keep one.

Jim Bergeson

DVP of Customer Engagement, BI WORLDWIDE

Jim is responsible for BI WORLDWIDE's Customer Engagement division, offering a wide range of strategic capabilities to help move your customers from a prospect, to a customer, to a repeat customer and eventually to being an advocate of your brand or product. My many years in marketing and the agency business have proven to me the need for businesses to continually reinvent themselves and look for better ways to engage with their customers. New technologies and media platforms have changed the marketing playing field but the strategic goal of earning the trust of your customer or client has not.

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