5 Ways to Supercharge Your Customer Onboarding With Automation

by Nathan Weill in

“Always be closing.”

This phrase, immortalized in the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross, has become the literal ABCs of business owners and sales teams the world over.

The mindset behind this mantra is that everything throughout the sales pitch and process should be with one goal in mind: seal the deal. In truth, however, closing the sale is not the end. Closing the sale is just the beginning of the relationship with your new customer or client.

two women sitting beside table and talking

We’re all aware that existing customers are far more profitable than acquiring new ones. If that’s the case, then instead of just focusing on closing the sale, we need to be equally, or perhaps even more, focused on providing a post-sale experience that wows.

The first step in this process is customer onboarding. Here, I’m sharing five ways you can make your customer onboarding spectacular with automation:

  1. Start with your scheduling
  2. Automate transactional items
  3. Schedule your follow-up emails
  4. Segment your customers
  5. Create an internal workflow

Why focus on improving customer onboarding?

Let’s start with talking about why customer onboarding could use your attention.

{Insert audible groan.}

Ah, customer onboarding. The first impression for your customer's experience. The jumping-off point of a long, prosperous relationship. 

There’s just one problem: Customer onboarding is typically a never-ending smorgasbord of tedious, time-consuming tasks and stilted communication. By the time all the administrative task-tennis is done, both you (or your onboarding team) and your client needs some space.

Hardly an ideal first impression. And the thing about first impressions? Well, they only happen once. That’s why this is the most important area to focus on improving if you want to solidify a great long-term relationship with your customers.

Thanks to the miracle of automation, customer onboarding doesn’t have to be tiresome, but a seamless experience that leaves an impactful first impression—and that’s better for your business.  

Effective Onboarding = Better Bottom Line

Getting your onboarding right effects more than just your customer’s satisfaction. According to McKinsey & Company, every one-point increase in customer onboarding satisfaction (calculated per the Net Promoter Score scale) resulted in a 3% increase in customer revenue. 

Multiply that by each customer, and you can see why it’s so critical to nail your client onboarding process.

There is certainly no shortage of tasks and workflows that can be automated, but as a primer of sorts, there are certain tasks that must be automated in order to make your customer onboarding process—and subsequent customer experience—as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

Before we get into these tasks, I must make one point clear: You can automate as many tasks and processes as you want, but without crystal-clear internal communication and transparency, none of this will be successful.

Everyone should know what their responsibilities are throughout the process, at which point in the process, and how to properly guide the client throughout the onboarding phase.

Now, onto the list of automations.

How to improve your customer onboarding with automation

There are lots of ways to improve customer onboarding, but these are the most impactful to your customer onboarding process.

1. Start with your scheduling

This might not technically be a part of the client onboarding experience, but I’m putting this here because it’s important to remember that the customer experience starts from the very first interaction they have with your brand. 

Many businesses, especially B2B service providers, engage in numerous prospecting calls and meetings every day. Instead of the endless back-and-forths, cancellations, and manual follow-up communication, put this process on autopilot. 

There are numerous scheduling apps available (Calendly and Doodle, to name just two) and with the help of integration tools like Zapier and Integromat, you can automate this entire workflow.

Here’s just one example of many:

customer onboarding scheduling example

2. Automate transactional items

A significant chunk of customer onboarding entails mundane transactional items. Whether it’s account setup information, sending contracts, invoicing, or any other impersonal form of communication, go ahead and automate that. 

Here’s an example from Coinbase:

transactional email example

This email asks a new user to verify their email address, and it’s automated. Automating transactional, repeat emails like this one can help eliminate unnecessary back-and-forths when onboarding a new user or client.

3. Schedule your follow-up emails

The purpose of onboarding is to get your customer acquainted with the value of your product or service. Your post-sale communication should be positive and informative, allowing them to familiarize themselves with your brand on their terms. 

Here are some follow-up onboarding emails that your business should be automating:

  • Welcome emails
  • Product tutorials
  • Trainings
  • Questionnaires
  • FAQ emails

Here’s an example of an automated follow-up email from Unstack.

Unstack confirmation email example

4. Segment your customers

While it might be a stretch to say no two customers are alike, it is true that chances are your customers play diverse roles in their lives and jobs. As such, your customers may have different interests and needs when it comes to your product or service. This is particularly important if your product or service has different price/feature tiers, such as a freemium service.

For the most effective customer onboarding, it is imperative to set up your funnels and workflows based on user behavior. This is best achieved by automating internal tags to specific triggers and actions your customer takes, whether that’s filling out a form, starting a free trial, watching a tutorial video, reading a blog post, and so on and so forth.

5. Create an internal workflow for communication 

One of the greatest myths about customer onboarding is that it’s limited to one team or department. In fact, that’s usually the number one cause for breakdowns during the onboarding phase. The sales team thinks customer service is handling Task A, while CS thinks accounting or the sales team is taking care of it. 

It’s critical to have some sort of automated communication flow to accompany the typical onboarding workflow. Any time a customer is moved along the onboarding journey or accomplishes a specific task, all appropriate parties should receive an internal notification, whether through Slack or email.

Here’s an example:

Action: Client sends Sales Rep over completed contract.

Triggers: Internal notification to Customer Service or Account Manager

“Hey Team,

{CUSTOMER NAME} just sent over a completed contract. It’s go time! 

Let’s make sure we deliver the “wow” customer experience that we at Company XYZ have become legendary for.

{Salesperson}"

Periodic reminders should also be scheduled to ensure the necessary responsibilities are being executed.

The real key to successful customer onboarding

Ultimately, the key to a truly effective customer onboarding experience starts by having a radical commitment to your user experience. If that’s the overarching objective, you’ll be able to craft a “wow” onboarding process, and reap the benefits of a positive customer experience.

About the author

Nathan Weill is the founder of Flow Digital, a micro-agency focused on helping businesses revamp their business processes and sales and marketing efforts through automation. An expert on all things automation, Nathan has worked with small businesses and large enterprises spanning a wide range of industries, including real estate, healthcare, SaaS, and nonprofit.

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