Winning a new client is a great achievement. But what about keeping them?

In business, a big sale can be an unparalleled rush. But after the confetti has been swept into the dustbin, the next steps are equally important. For the customer, all too often their shiny welcome mat leads to a lonely and confusing corridor. That’s because many companies spend far more money on winning the sale than they do on keeping the existing client engaged and comfortable, says the CommerceNext Benchmark report. This can lead to confusion, disengagement and reduced customer retention. The issue is twofold, because according to the Harvard Business Review, acquiring a new customer is five to 25 times more expensive than keeping an existing one. 

Enter the onboarding specialist. In addition to ensuring that customers are educated and eventually self-sufficient, a quality onboarding specialist boosts customer retention and earns long-term loyalty. Even though every customer cannot be retained forever, Bain & Company reports that increasing customer retention rates by just five percent can lead to an increase in profits of 25 to 95 percent. 

We sat down with five tech companies who explained that the key to great customer onboarding is making the customer feel quite literally at home. By adopting the style of a friend and ally, as well as parceling out the onboarding process into easily digestible stages, customers can be rightly convinced that they’ve bought into a company that has their best interests in mind for the long haul.

What is a customer onboarding specialist?

Customer onboarding specialists work with new customers to set them up for success from the start. Onboarding specialists ensure customers understand their products and services and solve any problems.

 

SMS Assist

Vanessa Sepiol

SENIOR MANAGER OF IMPLEMENTATION

Vanessa Sepiol

What’s a typical day for you as an onboarding specialist at your company? 

I lead a team of professionals who focus on onboarding new customers. Our responsibilities fall into three main themes: project planning, customer interaction and internal collaboration. Our individualized customer project plan is the cornerstone of the entire onboarding process, so we always begin there to make sure our customer implementation team is on the same page from the start.

There isn’t a day that goes by where we don’t spend time working face-to-face (or Zoom-to-Zoom) with our new customers. As soon as a customer joins SMS Assist, it’s our job to uncover every possible way we can provide value for them at every turn of the onboarding process. Our goal is to build a strong partnership and start problem-solving long before day one. 

That also means we need to maintain a close relationship with internal stakeholders. I started at SMS Assist as an operations specialist, so I’ve built (and I urge my team members to build) up-to-the-minute expertise of our services by collaborating with our operations and technology teams. Good relationships don’t just extend to our customers — we make sure to form them internally as well.

When bringing a customer on board, we aim to be as meticulous and forward-thinking as possible.

 

What are some of the most important touch points in your onboarding process? 

Because we tailor our onboarding process to each of our new customers’ specific needs, no cycle looks exactly the same. However, there are a few staples to any successful implementation.

First off, our project managers lead frequent virtual meetings with our customers to assess and strategize for the services we’ll be providing them. Setting them up in our portal, performing data capture, and aiding in the transition from previous facilities maintenance methods to ours are all essential touchpoints that take place in the initial few weeks of an implementation. But what’s most important is being active listeners. In order to help our customers get ready to work with us, we need to make sure they know we hear them and are responding to what they need.

Members of our billing, training, compliance and operations teams will also join the meetings and work closely with us, as all customer implementations require a collaborative effort. When bringing a customer on board, we aim to be as meticulous and forward thinking as possible from the get-go to ensure our customers have a seamless transition to begin using our services.

 

What’s one thing you do to establish strong relationships with your customers from the start?

Above all, we never want our customers to feel out of the loop, so we keep close communications with them throughout the process and well after they’ve been fully onboarded. On day one, we start with an implementation kick-off meeting that’s all about getting our customer excited to work with us. From the sales representative who brought them to SMS Assist to the operations manager who’ll lead their account, we introduce the customer to every individual who will be a part of their journey with our company, so that they know their account is in the right hands.

Maintaining these strong partnerships with our customers doesn’t end after launch. Our specialists stay involved to ensure a smooth transition, checking in with our customers frequently via email or phone calls and a survey that allows our customers to leave valuable feedback about their process. We don’t just want our customers to have a smooth onboarding process — we want them to have an exceptional experience no matter which stage they’re at in their journey with us. For that reason, we’re more than just the team who helps new customers get in the door. We’re here to develop meaningful relationships that last for years to come.

 

Subsplash

Alexandra Ramirez

ONBOARDING SPECIALIST

Alexandra Ramirez

At Subsplash, a leader in church engagement technology, Onboarding Specialist Alexandra Ramirez knows that guiding the customer through the initial onboarding stages is critical. That’s why she pieces together the process the way some would build a house. The result: a friendly yet thorough onboarding that creates just as much product familiarity as it does long-term loyalty and engagement.

 

First, walk us through a typical day for you as an onboarding specialist at your company. What are some of the key tasks on your to-do list?

Every good day starts with a full cup of coffee, especially Madalyn’s Backyard Pecan, with a little extra vanilla oat milk creamer for good measure. Then I’m ready to tackle the day! After that, I load up all my systems: Slack, Zoom, Outreach, Salesforce, Gmail, and so on. The first task to tackle is my inbox. Next I’ll take a glimpse at my calendar: I usually have a client meeting coming up shortly after. I’ll pull up the client’s account, notes and other resources depending on where they are in the onboarding process. Typically, onboarding meetings range from 25-30 minutes. After each meeting, I promptly send a follow-up email to the client to simplify and summarize everything we spoke of and make sure they are clear about the next steps in taking the process to a finished product. Most of my day is filled with these types of client meetings and during the in-between times, I’ll answer emails and prepare to work on my other tasks.

More From Customer Success5 Ways to Improve Your Customer Onboarding Process

 

Tell us a bit about your onboarding process. What are some of the most important touch points along the way?

I liken the onboarding process to moving into a new house. First, we need the actual house, this would be the Google and Apple developer accounts and all account set up (tax information, app store info, branding). Secondly, we need to figure out how each room will be used; the rooms represent the navigation tabs on the bottom of the app. Once we identify the room’s purpose, we are ready to add in all of the belongings and furniture: this represents the app content. Lastly, we organize the room and decorate it (my favorite part!). This step is what’s required for the design of the app and adding in various graphics! Once the hard work of unpacking and organizing everything is complete, we are ready for the client’s housewarming party, also known as their app going live in the app stores! It’s much easier said than done but that’s why clients have a designated helper, like me, throughout their entire onboarding process!

I liken the onboarding process to moving into a new house.

 

Whats one thing you do to establish strong relationships with your customers from the start?

From the beginning of a client conversation, I simply ask “How are you?”, and everyone is usually honest with me. I’ve had people share why they've had great days and why they’ve had tough days. From one simple question, you can build a strong relationship. Treating my clients as real people has been the best way for me to connect with them and allow an open space for honesty and productivity. Also, I do my best to make note of important events or information from my clients; for example, if a client said they had a wedding to attend over the weekend then I make sure to start our Monday morning meeting by asking them about the wedding. It’s the little intentional touch points that matter.

 

SecureLink

Carly Abraham

SENIOR ONBOARDING SPECIALIST

Carly Abraham

Customer communication and inter-departmental collaboration is critical to onboarding at SecureLink, a platform for secure remote access software. Carly Abraham, a senior onboarding specialist, ensures that customers know they have her support not only through go-live, but far into the future as a dedicated and multifaceted resource.

 

First, walk us through a typical day for you as an onboarding specialist at your company. What are some of the key tasks on your to-do list?

A typical day for me includes a lot of emails and meetings with both customers and vendors. I have onboarding project calls with my customers where we discuss anything from vendor onboardings in progress, the best way to set up a new vendor, unique vendor use cases, and any SecureLink product questions. Having a standing meeting helps keep both sides accountable and ensures the onboarding project is moving along smoothly.

Vendor onboarding calls are trainings that I set up with my customer’s vendors. We walk through the registration and connection process in SecureLink to make sure the vendor can successfully, and comfortably, use SecureLink for remote access moving forward. If we run into any connectivity issues, I’ll work with both parties to resolve the issue.

There’s also basic troubleshooting and general product questions that we handle throughout the day. We are constantly collaborating with other teams at SecureLink like customer success, technical operations and professional services, to name a few.

 

Tell us a bit about your onboarding process. What are some of the most important touch points along the way?

The process starts during the implementation kickoff where we align on expectations and communicate what we will need to have a successful onboarding project. During this time, we will help the customer catalog their vendors if they haven't already done so. We then hold a discovery call to do an onboarding deep dive to determine workflow and strategize the best process to onboard their vendors based on our expertise and the needs of their organization. When the customer is comfortable with SecureLink and we have gathered all the necessary information needed, we’re ready to onboard the first vendor. The onboarding team will schedule a call with the vendor to walk them through SecureLink and ensure they can successfully connect to the customer. Our onboarding efforts don’t stop at go-live — we’ll continue to work with the customer and onboard every vendor they’ve identified.

Our onboarding efforts don’t stop at go-live — we’ll continue to work with the customer and onboard every vendor they’ve identified.

 

Whats one thing you do to establish strong relationships with your customers from the start?

We make it known that we are a dedicated resource and product expert to not just our customer, but also to their vendors as well. We understand that a lot of organizations have been relying on a myriad of remote access methods for years. We’re here to make this as smooth of a process as possible for both our customer and their vendor. It doesn’t matter if our customers are onboarding a vendor one month from now or five years from now, they’ll always have assistance from the SecureLink onboarding team.

 

ServiceTitan

Morgan Cooper

SMB IMPLEMENTATION MANAGER

Morgan Cooper

At ServiceTitan, a technology platform for the trades, SMB implementation manager Morgan Cooper believes that quality onboarding involves deeply understanding the customer’s business and effectively communicating exactly what the onboarding process offers and entails. By being upfront from the beginning, the customer knows that ServiceTitan can be trusted and relied upon for the long-term.

 

Walk us through a typical day for you as an onboarding specialist at your company. 

A typical day in the life for me starts before the traditional 9-to-5 workday. Each night before dinner, I review my upcoming customer calls, data imports, team meetings and any action items I might need to complete the next day. That way I have a plan of action, and don’t need to remember everything from the day before when I open my computer the next morning.

I bring myself to each customer call prepared to give a customized experience. In the morning, I always begin by checking my email and responding to any questions or concerns that came in from the morning or night before. After my emails are in good order, I begin my calls with my customers. These calls range from implementation kickoffs to data reviews, and even go-live calls (which are my favorite)! Every day is different and every customer has their own unique needs, which keeps my job exciting and engaging. After I meet with my customers, I update the progress tracking of their account. Staying on top of this helps me to see exactly what stage of implementation each customer is in. Knowing each customer’s progress is extremely important to know who needs extra support or encouragement to stay on track and get live.

 

Tell us a bit about your onboarding process. What are some of the most important touch points along the way?

At ServiceTitan, we like to break down the onboarding process into four main sections. The first phase is where the deep dive discovery happens and I am able to learn as much about the customer’s business as possible. In this phase, I can really take a look at company goals and the “why” of their business. Understanding their core values is incredibly important so that as we move through onboarding, we can circle back to what is most important to them. In the next phase, I conduct training calls and help customers set up their account. A very important aspect of this phase is accurately bringing in the customer’s historical data. I try to engage my customers as much as possible to ensure a clean data migration and no loss of valuable historical data. This will allow them to see their growth and understand the value ServiceTitan has provided them. The last key milestone is ensuring workflow adoption before going live. This initial launch can be very stressful if effort is not put into training. I strive to ensure that my customers know how to use ServiceTitan before they go live so the transition is as smooth as possible so as not to disrupt their typical workday operations.

Understanding their core values is incredibly important so that as we move through onboarding, we can circle back to what is most important to them.

 

Whats one thing you do to establish strong relationships with your customers from the start?

I strive to set clear expectations for both my customers and myself. Being clear about the scope of onboarding, time commitment, expected meeting cadence, go-live requirements, and communication expectations is key. Defining these expectations clearly and early on in the process allows me to build real trust as we stick to the expectations outlined. This way, if later in the process something does not go as expected, I already have the customers’ trust that I will be able to find them a solution. Building this initial trust with my customers allows us to engage in open conversation where no question is a stupid one. I let my customers know right away that I am there to be a member of their team. While I might not always have the answer in my back pocket, they know I will do whatever it takes to help them improve their process and better their business.

But, I always remember that this trust and expectation goes both ways — I let my customers know right away that I am there to be a member of their team and while I won’t necessarily have an answer to every question, I will always find out the answer or best workflow and work with them to implement it.

 

Wix

Courtney Atkinson

ONBOARDING SPECIALIST, WIX STORES

Courtney Atkinson

What’s a typical day for you as an onboarding specialist at your company? 

At Wix, I typically start my day by outlining priorities and my goals for the rest of the week. After a much-needed cup of coffee, I spend the first part of my morning replying to any outstanding emails and inquiries alongside taking care of some administrative tasks. 

My key tasks throughout the day are centered around being an ongoing resource for questions and guidance from the first point of contact to the onboarding and setup process for our e-commerce users. This includes qualifying inbound inquiries via live chat, providing consultative recommendations to new and existing users on built-in tools and integrations, suggesting best practices and workflow improvements for managing the site and business, coordinating demo meetings, following up with existing leads and enhancing information.
 

To establish strong relationships from the start, I always put myself in our users’ shoes.’’


What are some of the most important touchpoints in your onboarding process? 

As the initial point of contact for e-commerce users, our first interaction is the most important touchpoint. Whether it’s via live chat, email or a phone call, the initial interaction is crucial to maximizing their active interest in finding a solution on Wix. 

The typical onboarding process consists of connecting with a lead to learn everything I can about their company, the business model, any challenges they may be facing and their overall goals for the website. This information helps structure the direction of the conversation along with developing an action plan to meet the user’s needs and expectations. 

The next important touch point is the demo. This is when our users make a critical decision of moving forward with Wix to manage their business and are excited to get the ball rolling! From site creation until our users’ first few sales, we provide continued support by showing them the best practices for using the platform, providing recommendations on built-in tools and integrations, and developing strategies for optimizing their online sales process and managing their website.

More From Customer Success12 Leaders Share How They Exceed Customer Expectations

 

What’s one thing you do to establish strong relationships with your customers from the start?

To establish strong relationships from the start, I always put myself in our users’ shoes. Whether they’re just exploring what starting an online business entails, looking to improve their current e-commerce solution, or working with existing users to optimize their website, I strive to create value by staying up to date on product knowledge and presenting tailored recommendations at all stages of the onboarding process.

 

Great Companies Need Great People. That's Where We Come In.

Recruit With Us