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Making Customers Happy From Day 1

Making Customers Happy From Day 1

July 20, 2011
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" Onboarding is the process of acquiring and assimilating new people/users into a system, business or culture, or in our context an online business. "

Getting customers is hard enough but retaining them is the greatest challenge of all. In the Adult Internet, retention is typically seen as what we do once a customer is unhappy or has already terminated their relationship with your online business. By focusing on our customer’s priorities and their interests, there are many opportunities for sales growth. Customer-centric onboarding is an inexpensive and highly effective method to boost retention by making your customers happy - from Day One.

Onboarding is the process of acquiring and assimilating new people/users into a system, business or culture, or in our context an online business (one or many websites.) For a website, it is the sequence of steps the first time user is pushed through to orient them to the site’s usage and brand. For example, Twitter has a refined onboarding process which prompts you to find your friends, find people to follow, shows you the controls, etc. So, in this article we are going to focus on ways in which to better welcome your new customers.

Consider these points:

  1. The first time online customer experience is strongly correlated to user retention. The better and more welcoming it is, the more likely the customer will make repeat purchases.
  2. Making purchase decisions can be tough; especially in the adult Internet, so there is a sense of relief when the decision is made. This is the time to seize the moment, as soon as the new customer is registered, to reinforce that they made the right decision to do business with your company.
  3. Skipping over an effective customer onboarding process means you may never get a chance at an upsell or a cross-sell.

Making new customers feel welcomed and valued sounds easy; implementing it is not always simple so we recommend doing so in these several phases.

Focus and plan.

Serendipity is great, but most well run businesses focus and plan on what they want to achieve. An effective customer onboarding strategy does not happen by accident. Ultimately, having declared strategy, almost any strategy, will in most cases be better than having none at all. Some basic concepts are to greet each customer personally and build in a “thank you” at the very start of the process. Don’t just sell and forget your customer and be sure the customer feels welcome well before any major cross-sell effort occurs.

Individualize and personalize.

Here is what all customers want — to be greeted personally treated individually. Not surprisingly it’s important to re-emphasize the features and benefits of your online business that brought each customer to you in the first place. Ideally, you could track and profile each visitor and customer to know what they most liked about your online business in the first place, but short of that you should start by greeting each customer personally and offer ways for them to get the most out of whatever they just acquired. For example, if a customer signed up for a VOD account, the onboarding communications should show how easy the VOD system is to use, how easy it is to get customer assistance and to build in preferences to personalize their online experience over time. Ultimately, having a customer-centric landing page for each user which is tailored to their preferences is the most effective method of customer onboarding. The key lies in helping the customer feel good about choosing your product or service.

Predict and act.

To make the customer onboarding experience most effective, you need insight coupled with a true understanding of customer preferences.

For a truly customer-centric onboarding process, you need customer centric data, a method to interpret that data and a method to act on that data in a personalized manner. There are three approaches available to use. First, you can capture customers’ preferences explicitly using forms, rating and favorite functions and the like. Second, you can mine and process your analytics data to determine aggregate site use preferences and transactional patterns to develop several typical customer profiles which are used and predict what each customer is most likely to respond positively to in practice. The latest generation of predictive modeling technologies are very for marketers easy to use and the payback is immense. It is also important to note that successful onboarders also avoid the types and frequency of communications that are most likely to elicit a negative response. After all, building strong relationship requires both knowing what — and what not — to say.

Listen and learn.

Many companies are using Automated Preference Management to gather insights on how customers like to communicate with them. They This capturing of channel, frequency and “focus” preference information will importantly allow your new customer to “opt down” rather than “opt out” — Letting them choose to hear from the business on topics that they care about, in the right volume, or only through certain channels has the dual benefit of demonstrating sensitivity to customers’ preferences and improving your customer wallet share (i.e. lifetime value).

Unify and enable.

The new customer is a multi-channel customer, and furthermore, is a “cross-channel” customer. They will move from one channel to the next and expect you to remember the context of the “dialogue” as this happens. Businesses that are able to unify the insights they gain and messages they send across all different channels are more effective in a) presenting a single face to the customer and b) meeting customers’ communication needs. They enable deployment of strategies consistently across all channels and connect the experience across all customer touch points. This means not only the traditional “marketing” channels but also the service and sales channels such as the branch, kiosk, ATM, call centers and more. Using automated governance rules, they ensure appropriate frequency and relevancy of messaging and using event triggers, they cross-sell when customers are likely to be most receptive.

Taken together, companies that engage in these five best practices find that they can reduce “opt-out” selections and boost customer engagement. To learn more about how to put these practices to use for your business, visit the Portrait Software website or download a white paper on this topic.

These companies also keep in mind that automating is not the same as “setting and forgetting” — they monitor, analyse and adjust their plans and processes as necessary to ensure they satisfy the needs of both customers and the business. Get management buy-in that a formalized strategy is essential to ensuring uniform treatment in accordance with your desired best practice.


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