Myth Busting: Are Only New Customers Worth Onboarding?

Companies that skimp on onboarding repeat customers are doing their bottom line a disservice.
Customer Experience

Depending on your industry, the word 'onboarding' carries a different connotation. In healthcare, it's about selling and enrolling clients in a health plan that best meets their needs, whereas in financial services it's about meeting regulatory requirements for newly deployed products. At its core, though, onboarding means matching the right products and services to a client's need, and then making it easy to bring them 'on board' regardless of the complexity of your business.

But this business of exceeding customer expectations is hard, to say the least, and one mistake many companies make is viewing onboarding as just a one-time occurrence that only applies to net new clients. This tunnel vision approach alienates existing customers, and leaves money on the table. If you want to truly engage your clients, you should make sure your onboarding processes account for existing and new clients.

For example, in the financial services industry, according to McKinsey's "Global Banking Annual Review 2015," almost 60 percent of profit comes from the origination of new products and services, not ongoing transactions. So for years, the process of onboarding in this industry has focused on acquiring 'new money' and streamlining the sales of products and services to new prospects. But as every banking relationship manager knows, there are all kinds of clients; some are first-time clients, and some have been around for years. So why not focus on the relationship with existing clients as an important thing to nurture? And why not treat these existing customers with the same level of onboarding care and attention that new customers enjoy?

Luckily, businesses that manage their CRM data well should know customer preferences when they onboard them to a new service or product. In fact there is more information about existing customers than new ones, meaning companies can have advanced insight into what each customer might need, allowing them to sell only what they want. Then they can use unified sales and onboarding capabilities to quickly seal the deal. For example, if you already have personal contact, credit score, and existing product information about a client, why ask them for that exact same information again when trying to sell a new product?

As well, effective CRM data mining around existing customers exposes how the customer prefers to engage. Is it via mobile application, email, phone, a face-to-face visit, or some combination of these channels and engagement strategies? Looking at this information regularly allows companies to create tailored experiences and engender effective engagement and more satisfied customers.

Here are a few additional tips to encourage effective onboarding of new and existing clients:

  • Integrate the sales team closely with the onboarding and fulfillment team to guide, progress, and manage the client experience. This allows your sellers to shift from strictly selling to adding value around the products and services offered, while making the process smooth and efficient.
  • Employ intelligent technology to streamline and personalize every step. Real-time dashboards and digitized processes allow companies to track every step of the sales and onboarding process, and customer self-service portals help provide customers with full transparency.
  • Solicit customer feedback, a lot. By listening to clients and making necessary alterations to the onboarding process, organizations can strengthen customer relationships and implement positive changes into future onboarding experiences.

Companies onboard customers all the time, even if they don't acknowledge it as such. And while it's tempting to put all your time and effort into new customer acquisition, instead of focusing on existing customer engagement, businesses should put themselves on the path to long-term success by caring and feeding the customer who's been with them the whole time. If you think you're being strategic by cutting corners and skimping on onboarding repeat customers, you're doing your bottom line a disservice.