New Benchmarks for Modern Customer Onboarding Success

A new customer has officially signed up for your product or service. Now it’s time to move forward and find your next interested buyer.

Well, not so fast. New sales are important, but if you don’t take care of the customers you already have, you’re at risk of losing their business.

Expectations for service are at an all-time high. In fact, 88% of customers place as much importance on the experience a company delivers as its products and services.

If you want to give your customers a smooth onboarding experience, you need to dig into the details and pay attention to your agreement processes.

The new benchmarks for a modern onboarding experience

Customer onboarding can be tricky to get right. However, there are a few common missteps organizations can avoid to prevent customer frustration.

First impressions are everlasting

You only have one first chance to make customers feel like they’re in good hands. If your onboarding process piles too many tasks onto your customers, they might decide you're adding more problems than you’re solving.

One of the most common onboarding frustrations is when companies haven’t digitized crucial parts of the process. In these cases, customers are expected to download and print out paper contracts to sign, scan, and upload. Or worse, drive to a brick-and-mortar store to sign documents in person.

This leads to a frustrating experience, full of potential exit points:

  • What if your customer doesn’t have access to a printer/scanner at home?
  • What if your customer can’t get to you during business hours because of their job?
  • What if your customer doesn’t drive or isn’t located near your business?
  • What if an employee makes a manual error at any point? Will the process start all over again?

On the other hand, seamless digital experiences align with younger customers’ appetites for 24/7 service and self-serve options. 66% of Millennials and 61% of Gen-Z customers prefer going through simple customer interactions independently.

Manual processes are becoming the exception  

Many customers use their phones for purchases and expect quick and convenient service. Whether they’re signing up, filling out information or making payments—they’re used to managing tasks in just a few clicks.

Digitizing your processes gives customers their time back and makes it easier and faster to work with you.

Adriana Trizna, product marketing manager at Docusign, agrees. “There are so many businesses that just haven't taken the time to digitize their systems,” she said.“They're driving customers to do onboarding in person or go through all these unnecessary manual steps. And really, customers don’t want that nowadays.”

Customers want a cohesive experience 

As your company scales, different teams organically take on specific areas of the onboarding process. Sales might have ownership over customer communications. Marketing writes notification copy and related customer campaigns, while design makes decisions about user experience and visual identity.

This is a recipe for disconnection. If teams aren’t talking to one another, you could end up:

  • Sending messages to customers at the wrong times or requesting information they've already provided
  • Making promises that aren’t delivered in the onboarding experience
  • Losing product upsells because the right data isn’t visible to sales

To break down silos, consider forming a collaborative group with people from each team. By reviewing the process from multiple perspectives, each team member can bring their area of expertise to the table. The result should be a smooth, unified onboarding experience that puts the customer first.

How to audit your onboarding experience

All too often, businesses’ onboarding experiences prioritize their own needs. If you're truly invested in achieving customer success, look closely at your current process and talk to your customers about what they want to achieve.

1. Go behind the scenes to find out what’s actually happening

You don’t have to go full “undercover boss” mode, but every employee should put themselves in their customers’ shoes by going through the onboarding experience. Getting a 360-degree view of the process helps you spot moments of friction and lets you see the overall value you’re providing.

Customers develop their onboarding expectations based on all of their past purchasing experiences. Companies can't only focus on what people in their own industries are doing; they need to know how they measure up to companies outside of their field.

Think about your purchasing habits. How does your company’s onboarding process compare to the last few purchase experiences you had? 

2. Take time to survey your customers

If you want to know what your customers think about their onboarding experience—ask them. Adding a post-onboarding survey is an easy way to gather critical information. You only need to ask a few questions:

  • On a scale of 1–10, how has your experience been so far?
  • Which part of the process was most/least helpful?
  • Anything else you want to add?

Keep reaching out to your customers and tweaking your onboarding process as you learn more about them.

Ultimately, surveys show you care about your customers’ experience with you. This can be valuable when your product comes up for renewal or you see an upsell opportunity. Build trust at the beginning of the relationship, and you’ll be rewarded later.

How do you know your onboarding experience is a success?

When nearly nine out of ten customers expect a top-notch experience, your onboarding process becomes a pivotal step in the customer lifecycle. So how will you know if it’s a success?

Onboarding is an ongoing process, not a one-and-done project. As your business grows and your customers change, you adjust accordingly. But there are three ways to tell if you’re heading in the right direction.

1. Is it fast and simple?

The quicker you can help customers experience their first moment of success, the more likely they'll stick around for the long haul. A strong onboarding experience significantly increases your chances of building a lasting partnership.

Keep an eye on these key metrics to help you track your success:

  • Time to value: Your customers have come to you to solve a problem. Decide what action brings the most immediate value and reduce the steps it takes for your customers to reach that goal.
  • Free trial to conversion: Think of a free trial as its own onboarding process. It’s an opportunity to walk potential customers through your product and features, explaining their value along the way. If the experience is easy and intuitive, they’re more likely to convert. Track the number of conversions periodically, and test new onboarding strategies to see if conversion increases.

“A lot of businesses are using these archaic processes,” Trizna said. “You have to provide a really quick and easy experience for customers, or they might choose a competitor who gives them what they need in a matter of minutes.”

2. Is it simple and low-effort?

The Customer Effort Score (CES) measures how easy or difficult it is to interact with your company.

Say you own a retail business. A customer calls about buying shoes in a particular size. 

They’re out of stock in the store, but the sales rep checks her system to see the warehouse  inventory. She finds the right size and informs the customer that she can order them, and they’ll be in next Monday. She also offers the name of another location close by where they’re in stock and suggests the customer could also order them online.

Contrast this with a similar scenario. Except this time, the sales rep doesn’t look up inventory at other stores and doesn’t suggest alternatives—leaving the customer to drive to three store locations in search of shoes before giving up completely.

The first example is a low-effort customer experience, while the second is a high-effort one. Gartner’s research shows 94% of customers who experience those frustrating, high-effort service interactions become more disloyal.

When giving onboarding experience surveys, track CES by asking the following: On a scale from 1–10, did we make it easy to resolve your issue?

If your customers rate their experience below seven, it’s time to review your onboarding experience and tweak it with reduced customer effort in mind.

3. Is it curated and personalized?

Business is back—and this time, it’s personal. According to McKinsey, 71% of customers look for personalized interactions when dealing with companies—while 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.

What’s more, McKinsey said companies that get personalization right see 40% more revenue than those with a one-size-fits-all approach to customer experience. So it makes sense to bring in personalization from the beginning.

Technology drives personalization, from onboarding surveys to dynamic forms that adapt to customers’ needs. The more personal you get, the richer the customer data you have to work with—helping you create a positive cycle of increasingly relevant experiences.

Personalization examples include:

  • Multi-modal help options: Let your customers choose how they want to learn about their purchase—whether that’s a guided onboarding sequence, links to short educational videos or one-on-one support.  
  • Communication matching: Triggering certain emails at various points in the onboarding process helps customers feel you’re right there with them in the experience. Go one step further by adding personalized information: their name, account details or previous history with your business.

How to keep customers on board with Docusign

No matter your industry, digital agreements are at the heart of customer onboarding. With a suite of tools designed to streamline, automate and speed up business processes, Docusign helps you build personalized experiences your customers will love.

Banking with Elastic Signing

As digital habits skyrocket and fintech gains momentum, banks need to stand out from the crowd. McKinsey suggests focusing on the “historically overlooked and underfunded” area of onboarding to capture customers’ attention.

When someone opens a bank account, they don’t want to come into a branch and fill out a mountain of paperwork. They want a modern experience that lets them get everything they need with the click of a button, from virtually anywhere on practically any device.

Elastic Signing helps you create frictionless, personalized agreements from your website or inside your app. Customers can sign agreements with a tap, and you can customize the design to blend seamlessly into your company’s digital presence.

  • Flexible content: Use a single template for all possible agreement variations.
  • Dynamic personalization: Make it easier for your customers to complete agreements by automatically filling form fields with dynamic content.
  • Powerful security: Store, search and manage elastic agreements in one encrypted central location.

Home insurance with Web Forms

In the past, homeowners who needed a new insurance policy quote had no choice but to download and complete frustrating static PDFs. Web Forms lets you offer interactive forms that seamlessly fill contracts with customer information.

  • Deliver a seamless and secure signing experience: Over a billion customers recognize and use eSignature because it’s safe and secure.
  • Customize agreements: Web Forms allow customizable branding, so you can match the look and feel of your brand and build trust. With SMS delivery, you can send customers a mobile-friendly form that collects the necessary information and automatically fills out contract fields.
  • Unlock the value of your data: Web Forms stores dynamic data. You can pull information from multiple contracts to check the pulse of your business and quickly export customer agreement data for analysis and reporting.

Integrate contract management into your onboarding workflow

With over 400 integrations (and counting), Docusign is the thread that ties tech stacks together. For software providers that use a customer relationship manager (CRM), Docusign lets you build automated digital contracts into your existing customer workflows.

With our Salesforce integration, you get seamless contract management all from within Salesforce. Digitize your onboarding paperwork, accept eSignatures and streamline agreements in one secure platform.

No matter what the onboarding journey looks like for you, Docusign elevates the customer experience. Start sending and signing in minutes with a free trial.

Related Topics