When customers are looking for a new product or service today, they have dozens of options at their fingertips. That’s why setting your business apart from the competition is critical — your company and brand need to stand out in a saturated market so your target audience wants to do business with you, and your current customers want to remain loyal to, and advocate for, your brand.
One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is by creating a memorable, personalized, and delightful experience from the moment you gain a new customer. In fact, 63% of customers say that they’re onboarding experience is an important part of their purchasing decision. In other words, you must establish a strong B2B onboarding process.
In this blog, you’ll discover what B2B onboarding is, why it’s so important, and which best practices can enhance your B2B customer onboarding process to improve the customer experience and loyalty.
Before we dive in, let's define customer onboarding at a high level.
What is customer onboarding?
Customer onboarding is the process of helping an individual (the customer) understand how to successfully use your product or service in a way that allows them to achieve their unique version of success. Customer onboarding may be done manually or automatically, depending on your product, whether an onboarding specialist is involved, or if a customer onboarding software is used to streamline your process.
B2B onboarding, or B2B customer onboarding, is a type of customer onboarding between two businesses. The customer is assisted by you (the seller) down the path of achieving value as quickly as possible in your product. The customer is also taught by you how to seamlessly use the product or service they purchased in a way that enables them to meet the expectations they sought after during the sales process with you, the seller.
Often, B2B onboarding involves a business purchasing software to improve a workflow — this process may also be referred to as B2B SaaS onboarding. Since software can often be difficult to learn, implement, and integrate into a new or previously-established workflow, onboarding is a helpful process for customers who want to begin getting value from their new purchase quickly.
B2B Onboarding Process
A B2B onboarding process refers to the series of steps a team takes when ramping up a new customer on their product/service. To simplify the onboarding process and improve the user experience (UX) for customers, your business may consider leveraging a B2B customer onboarding software (we’ll talk more about onboarding software shortly) to automate steps, create repeatable workflows, and integrate all of your internal and external customer-focused data, information, and communication in one place.
Why is the B2B customer onboarding process important?
Here are some of the benefits of having a robust B2B customer onboarding process.
- Nurture your customers while teaching them how to achieve their goals by using your product/service.
- Provide your customers with a seamless and positive user experience.
- Retain existing customers and reduce churn. (It’s more expensive to acquire new customers than retain customers!)
- Provide your customers with personalized and customized experiences that excite them about doing business with you.
- Accelerate time-to-value for customers using your product/service.
- Improve collaboration between all internal teams and stakeholders involved in bringing on new customers (e.g. sales, customer success, and customer experience).
- Gather and analyze onboarding data that allows you to determine if you’re successfully meeting your customers’ needs and/or which aspects of onboarding you could improve.
Example of a B2B Onboarding Process
Here’s an example of what a general B2B onboarding process may look like:
Using the above image as a starting point, let’s look at the steps involved in a B2B onboarding process in greater detail.
1. Create a framework for your onboarding process.
To begin, create a framework for your onboarding process. By standardizing steps and setting expectations for your B2B onboarding process, you’ll ensure every team member is using a consistent and repeatable method when bringing on new customers.
This type of consistency allows for a smooth and valuable onboarding process that represents your brand accurately for every customer. It also helps your onboarding specialists work efficiently and remember to hit on the most important parts of the process for every individual they support.
For more tips on creating your framework or onboarding process, check out this article.
2. Use customer onboarding software.
There are a number of tools available today to help you optimize the B2B onboarding process but it’s crucial that you find the right one for your business and customers.
By leveraging customer onboarding software, you’ll:
- Expedite the process (or reduce your customer time to value) of onboarding through automation and scalable workflows.
- Give time back to your customer success and experience specialists so they can focus on the customers who need more one-on-one assistance.
- Improve visibility and scale your onboarding process through customized reports and data dashboards.
- Enable a repeatable and efficient onboarding process that is representative of your brand.
- Integrate your onboarding tool with your existing apps to make information sharing and collaboration easy.
For example, Status allows you to stay flexible by organizing and automating all of your onboarding tasks on a single platform. Create workflows that trigger after a sale, integrate Status with your existing tools, and use the platform to collaborate and communicate with your customer and internal team via a single workspace. Status also has a feature for creating customizable and shareable portals that your customers can use to track their portion of tasks during onboarding, all without needing a login.
3. Tailor the onboarding process to your customer.
The onboarding process should be engaging and foster a strong relationship between your company and the customer. Once you’ve established the baseline template of tasks needed to effectively onboard a customer, look for ways to tailor the onboarding process to each customer. This entails understanding the goals they have and explaining how they can achieve them with your product/service, as well as setting customized onboarding milestones to help the customer efficiently reach those targets.
4. Ask your customer for feedback.
Once your customer has completed onboarding, ask them for feedback. A common way to collect this feedback is through a simple survey. You might also have a brief one-on-one conversation with them via phone call or a virtual meeting tool (such as Zoom). By understanding how your customer felt about their onboarding experience, you’ll be able to adjust the process for future customers to give them the best experience possible.
B2B Customer Onboarding Best Practices
Throughout the process of B2B onboarding, keep the following best practices in mind. These tips will help you foster strong relationships with your customers and teach them how to use your product/service to accomplish their goals — as a result, they’ll want to become and remain your loyal brand advocates.
- Ensure your entire customer experience and success teams know and understand the onboarding framework so they’re able to offer the most seamless and enjoyable onboarding process possible.
- Customize aspects of the onboarding process to ensure your customers are able to apply your product/service in a way that allows them to reach their specific milestones and goals.
- Find the best onboarding software for your company and target audience.
- Keep communication lines open between your business and the customer to make sure you’re providing optimal support before, during, and after onboarding is complete.
- Gather data and ask for feedback to adjust the onboarding process in real-time for customers on an as-needed basis, and after onboarding is complete, so you can improve the process for future customers.
To learn more about what your customer success and onboarding teams can do to ensure an efficient onboarding, read this article.
Create Your B2B Onboarding Process
An effective B2B onboarding process has the power to deliver positive experiences that keep your customers happy and loyal to your brand — and delighted customers result in greater ROI for your business.
Start by working through the steps we shared above to create your business’ onboarding process, and identify the right B2B onboarding tool, like Status, to automate and simplify onboarding