When it comes to product implementation, there is no substitute for an effective onboarding process. Whether you’re implementing a new software system or rolling out a new company-wide initiative, the key to success lies in how well you onboard your customers. A few years ago, my organization went through a major software transition. The rollout was plagued with problems from day one because we didn’t have a solid plan for onboarding our users. It was an incredibly frustrating experience that could have been avoided if we had taken the time to develop a proper onboarding vs implementation strategy.
Onboarding vs Implementation: What’s the Difference?
When a new client or partner signs up for your service or product, there are a series of steps you must take to deliver it to them. This is known as client onboarding.
During the onboarding process, your team will work closely with your clients to understand their backgrounds and requirements. They will then gather all the necessary information needed to provide a great project while respecting your business objectives. This could include a meeting followed by an email with a list of the client’s needs to get started.
All these activities, which often include lots of back and forth, must be repeated with each client during the onboarding vs implementation process.
Client onboarding systems make it possible to streamline the process for both your team and your clients. By automating key tasks and communications, you can minimize disruptions and ensure a smooth transition for everyone involved.
Most companies fail at properly setting up their customer onboarding process. By learning these 6 critical steps, you’ll beat out your competition and win over customers.
6 Misconceptions About Client Onboarding
1. Client Onboarding is Just for Corporations
Client onboarding used to be something that only larger companies worried about.
But, that’s not true anymore.
If I searched online for services like yours, your competitor’s website could show up right next to yours.
For simple buyers like myself, it doesn’t really make a difference if you have an onboarding tool or not. I will just compare the service you offer to any other I come across as I shop around.
The internet has made it possible for businesses to compete on a global scale, which means that small companies must be more adaptable than ever before.
The good news is that there are many different options for software that can help you onboard clients.
There are both expensive and inexpensive options available for inbound and outbound contact centers, but there are also some middle ground options that are still very usable and appropriate for small and medium-sized companies.
2. Only a Tech Team Can Design and Implement a Custom Client Onboarding Process
Your client onboarding process is much more than a one-time event. It’s a system that your entire company uses daily.
It’s entirely possible to manage this workflow using a dedicated tool that was built for this exact purpose.
With the right software, you can build your end-to-end customer onboarding solution without hiring a developer.
3. Client Onboarding Involves Manual Tasks
Most software solutions for automating your sales process will be able to handle any task that you’d otherwise do manually.
They are designed to automatically handle all the tedious parts of your day, allowing you to focus your attention on your clients.
4. I Don’t Need Client Onboarding Since I Don’t Deal With Clients
Nope. A customer onboarding tool can be used for managing all types of people including prospects, partners, vendors, and even employees and students.
Onboarding software is similar to a CRM, except that it is geared toward managing customers. It is typically flexible enough to handle any process or type of person that you need.
5. Client Onboarding is Possible With Just a Basic Online Form
This myth is hurting a lot of small businesses. Why?
Because it’s not secure and it scales poorly.
Emails and forms are not designed for professional customer onboarding.
They are best used for quick, simple tasks: filling out a contact or feedback form, completing a poll, or getting information from a co-worker.
Onboarding new clients can be a tedious process, but it’s necessary to have seamless communication and data management systems across your company.
Using multiple apps for client management is not recommended. This can result in a disjointed user experience and could put your data at risk of mismanagement.
6. I Don’t Need a CRM
Yes, you do. A client onboarding platform is a complement to a CRM, not a replacement.
Both solutions will help your team manage new prospects. While CRM systems are great for keeping track of all sales, onboarding tools are focused on converting leads into paying customers by engaging with them.
Onboarding vs Implementation: Types of Onboarding Methodologies
Onboarding can either be done through self-service or full service.
In a self-service system, the customer is responsible for installing the software and integrating their own data into it. They must also set up the software to their liking, usually by following instructions or watching a video.
For basic questions about the product, there is a free support team available. However, since this is a free onboarding, it is up to the customer to follow through with the onboarding process. They will have to rely on video tutorials and step-by-step guides to learn how to use the product.
Full-service onboarding is done by software companies, where the provider charges a fee based on the complexity of the installation.
The software company has internal teams who will guide you through every step of the process, from collecting required data to uploading and mapping information and setting up the system to your preferences.
After the software company’s tech team has collected all the required data and set up the system to the client’s preferences, they will confirm everything is in working order. They will then provide step-by-step instructions on how to use the system, as well as ongoing customer support via phone or email.
A well-executed, comprehensive onboarding is key to ensuring that your software is successfully integrated into your business.
While many businesses offer some sort of onboarding, 90% of companies reported their onboarding process could be better. And 55% of customers will cancel or return a product because of a poor onboarding process.
Successful onboarding is essential to preventing future employee roadblocks and dissatisfaction. By providing a detailed understanding of the basics, as well as the fundamental features and services that make a product unique, customers can hit the ground running and avoid any potential issues down the line.
Onboarding vs Implementation: What is Implementation?
For software as a service (SaaS) businesses, onboarding new customers is essential to success.
If a company’s onboarding and implementation process is poor, it can hurt their relationships with their clients, which can then impact their expansion and retention rates in the future.
Because a well-designed and well-implemented software-as-a-service product bridges the gap between customer operations, processes, and tools, the first impression and interactions that customers have with a new vendor are critical for minimizing potential attrition and maximizing opportunities for upselling.
If you’ve sold a lot of complex software, you may have a backlog of customers waiting to get on board. This can pose a problem when those customers want their working solution ASAP.
If you have a complicated product or service, a sophisticated buyer, a high volume of sales, or all of the above, you may need to change your approach when it comes to account management, implementation, and training.
Having a separate strategy that focuses on implementing software apart from other development, testing, and quality control processes contributes to the success of a Software as a Service program.
With a clear plan of action, the implementation and migration teams can focus on moving clients’ data into the new system, setting up the system, creating custom reports and dashboards, and customizing the settings for the client.
By focusing on specific aspects of the journey, like implementation, customer support, and account manager roles, you can tailor the journey to each customer.
Conclusion: Onboarding vs Implementation
Onboarding vs implementation: which should be a priority? It’s important to note that onboarding is just as important as implementation when it comes to ensuring a successful transition. By taking the time to develop a solid plan for getting your customers up-to-speed on the new system, you can avoid the frustration and confusion that often accompanies major changes.