Customer Onboarding – Not as weird as it sounds

Today myself and a friend were griping about the cost of our car insurance. We know this is a running topic in Ireland, I remember the days when my car insurance was just €250 and now I’m looking at a bill of €1,200 or so. My friend was quoted double the price from last year, she called in and the bored customer service rep knocked €50 off the bill. She was disgusted and said to me “I’ve been with them for years”, in response to her I found myself saying “That doesn’t matter any more”.

Insurance and other large businesses may have abandoned the idea of loyalty (probably because they are all doing the same and have a monopoly), but YOU shouldn’t think like this. Loyalty is something that is important, as it means repeat customers and better profit models. According to Invesp, it costs five times more to gain a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.

The Importance of Customer Onboarding

The very Americanised sounding term on ‘Customer Onboarding’ sounds a little bit complicated and frightening. However, it’s not all that scary, it is the concept of building a relationship with the customer so that they feel invested in your brand and will keep returning. When you respect your customer, you give them a feeling of involvement and being part of something bigger, you gain loyalty. The vale of customer onboarding is quite amazing as you can gain a flowing, brand advocates, recommendations and more. Look at brands like Apple, Harley Davidson, Nike, Ben & Jerry’s, they all have loyalty or cult following that is so invested, that people will tattoo the logos on their bodies!

Generally, in retail or e-commerce terms, you are looking to get a customer to return to you within 60 days. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but you should be trying to aim for a model like this. For this to happen you need to have a number of things in place. You need to have three focus points… (these are my terms just to make things clear and easy to understand). 

  1. More to sell – upsells, cross-sells or consumables that need to be replaced in your product offerings so that there is something to come back for.
  2. Inclusion – an aftersales strategy that gives them a feeling of investment and involvement.
  3. Joy – In the words of Marie Kondo, you need to ‘spark joy’ and leave them with a feeling of being loved or valued. (Hubspot call this the ‘delight’ phase).

The sale does not end at the financial transaction, it ends with how the customer feels when they have used your product or service and what they experience after that. Just consider the offline experience you have with some retailers that make you come back time and time again, you need to emulate some of these feelings and things in a digital way.

Nespresso – What Else? 

A brand that I feel is really good at customer onboarding is Nespresso. They make the effort to be all inclusive and make you feel like you are buying into more than just a bitter drink that makes you do stupid stuff quicker.

The process begins when you buy your Nespresso machine, you have to sign up for a Membership. This membership is compulsory if you wish to buy their own capsules. Naturally, you are added to an email marketing list where you will receive tips on how to make amazing coffees, early access to special edition coffees and limited edition ranges, offers etc.

You are also automatically given a membership status.

  • Conneseur 0-4 years
  • Expert – 5-9 years or 1,000 capsules purchased in a year
  • Ambassador 10+ Years or 1,500 capsules in a year.

The higher the status the better the perks.

Other perks for member include the option of visiting their retail stores and trying their coffees, made by their expert baristas free of charge. 24/7 coffee support to help you choose the best coffees or make the best coffees and the opportunity to sign up for coffee making master classes.

All these perks or being a ‘member’ makes the customer feel that they are very much part of something bigger than just coffee. The feeling that you have is that you belong to an exclusive set of coffee drinkers, a better class than those that simply drink coffee.

Of the three focus points I mention above, Nespresso has all of these.

  1. More to sell – They sell machines, coffees, cups, chocolates, biscuits, sugar sachets and more.
  2. Inclusion – With the membership, you get offers that improve with your status and inclusion with the free coffees and masterclasses etc.
  3. Joy – you are part of an exclusive club that makes you a better coffee drinker than all the rest.

You can see from their Mission Statement that they want you to “feel like you are having the perfect coffee’, whether the coffee is perfect or not is really up to your emotional connection with the brand. Let’s face it, they do have an ‘unmatched in-store experience’, you don’t see your instant coffee on the high street with all the bells and whistles.

So what now?

By focusing on what makes a customer feel included, part of your valued community and even part of an ethos, cause or something better than just revenue, you will begin to increase the number of repeat customers.

Over the next few articles, I will be looking at some of the physical and digital opportunities that you can use to help with Customer Onboarding. For the moment though I want you to ask yourself a few questions to begin thinking of what your customers feel about you.

  • What average rating do you have when it comes to reviews or what would you give yourself if you were the customer? (you should search for your brand on Social Media and Google to see what comes up here).
  • Do you have any followup opportunities that you could utilise within the first 60 days?
  • Is your E-commerce platform or its plugins able to support follow-up activities?
  • What are you doing with email addresses (don’t forget GDPR here), messaging and social media at the moment?

Have a think and even try to put some timeline, map, picture to your current status and for the moment just take stock of where you are.

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