Customer Onboarding in 2023: A Guide for the Future

By Sivan Kaspi, Updated on October 10, 2023, 6 min read
Customer onboarding

Whatever industry you work in, whatever products or services you sell, or whatever your specific pricing structure, one rule rings true for all—the customer is king! After all, a paying customer is the one keeping your business in the black, the one who helps fund innovation and development, and ultimately, the one who pays your wages.


However, while getting people to pay for your product or service is one thing, ensuring that they remain loyal customers for years to come is quite another. No business should underestimate customer engagement and retention, and one of the most powerful ways to boost these metrics is through client management that leverages a user-friendly and comprehensive customer onboarding strategy.


But what exactly does a customer onboardings strategy look like, and how can you develop something suited to your specific business model? In this article, we’ll explore these questions and more, helping your business build a winning onboarding strategy that keeps your customers happy and your business pushing forward into the future.


The Dawn of a New Era in Customer Onboarding

new era of customer onboarding


Customer onboarding has long been a critical phase in the customer journey, setting the tone for the entire relationship between a business and its customers. In 2023, however, customer onboarding is undergoing a huge shift that gives customers more information, support, and their own personalized experience in using your product or service.


Traditionally, customer onboarding was designed to provide orientation and set expectations. Often, this was done perfunctorily with a few welcome emails and a user manual or guide, as well as dealing with complaints. Today, however, customer onboarding is evolving into something entirely different.


In the current landscape, the focus has shifted dramatically towards personalization. Businesses are leveraging advanced technologies and data-driven insights to craft onboarding experiences that resonate on an individual level. This means understanding the specific needs and preferences of each customer and tailoring the onboarding journey accordingly.


A software company might offer targeted tutorials based on a user’s prior interactions with similar applications. For instance, Spike’s conversational email allows for more interactive and dynamic exchanges, and this extends to the onboarding process as well. Customers can seamlessly engage with Spikes onboarding materials within a dedicated resources section, ask questions, and receive real-time guidance, all within app itself. This not only enhances the learning experience but also fosters a sense of immediate and personalized support.

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Customer Onboarding in 2023

While the customer is king remains a solid mantra for any business, within the customer onboarding process it means much more than simply dealing with complaints. Today, it’s all about experience and engagement tactics, and ultimately, by providing a good experience you will receive less complaints and more positive feedback, something that can also help draw in new customers through that most powerful of marketing tools—word of mouth.


This means that customer onboarding is no longer just a checklist of tasks, but a carefully planned experience that makes the customer feel valued and understood. From intuitive user interfaces to personalized welcome messages, the idea is to create a memorable onboarding journey that paints a positive picture of your company.


One important feature of this is a shift from conventional B2C strategies. Today, the line between B2B and B2C customer onboarding is blurring, and businesses are recognizing that, regardless of the nature of the customer, a personalized and engaging onboarding experience is crucial. This shift is driven by the realization that even in B2B relationships, individuals make decisions, and they respond positively to thoughtful onboarding.


One element of achieving this is creating a customer success team to manage post-sales interactions. This team is the bridge between what was promised during the sales process and what is delivered during onboarding, and its expertise in understanding customer goals ensures a smooth transition from acquisition to activation.


Supporting your team are the following strategies:


1. Personalized Onboarding Paths

Tailoring onboarding journeys to individual customer needs is key. AI-driven tools help in analyzing customer data to provide personalized recommendations and guidance.


2. Interactive Onboarding Content

Engaging content such as videos, interactive tutorials, and live demos are becoming standard inclusions in onboarding processes. These methods facilitate quicker understanding and retention.


3. Omnichannel Communication

Customers expect to interact with businesses through various channels. Seamless transitions between email, chat, and phone support are essential for a cohesive onboarding experience.


The Impact of Tech Giants on Customer Onboarding

Over the past decade, companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google have revolutionized customer onboarding through their relentless focus on user experience. From the simplicity of Apple’s product setup to Amazon’s frictionless purchasing process, these tech giants have set new standards for onboarding excellence. Their influence extends beyond their respective industries, shaping customer expectations across all sectors.


These companies have achieved this in a variety of ways, but something that links them all is their commitment to creating seamless onboarding programs that have built a loyal customer base, with engagement and retention among their top priorities.


Success Stories in Modern Customer Onboarding

Apple and customer onboarding

There are many success stories in modern onboarding, with the most successful providing a template for other companies to follow. For example, Apple is renowned for its sleek and intuitive devices that have redefined the onboarding experience. Consider the simplicity of setting up an iPhone or MacBook, the seamless transition from unboxing to activation, and the clear and concise instructions that exemplify Apple’s mastery in ensuring that users feel confident and empowered from the very first interaction with their product.


Similarly, Google, with its expansive suite of products and services, has focused on creating seamless transitions between its various platforms. The ease with which a user can switch between Gmail, Google Drive, and YouTube using a single Google account not only simplifies the onboarding process but also fosters a sense of continuity and familiarity for users across the Google ecosystem.


The Future of Customer Onboarding: A Vision for 2023 and Beyond

With the importance of customer onboarding covered, it’s time to look to the future—and the future holds many new challenges in an increasingly competitive landscape. Perhaps most importantly, businesses must adopt agile onboarding strategies, that enable continuous evaluation of customer feedback, quick iterations of products and services, and increasingly look towards cutting-edge technology to stay ahead of customer expectations. This is likely to include the following:


1. AI-Powered Onboarding Assistants

Artificial intelligence will play an even more prominent role in guiding customers through onboarding processes, providing real-time assistance, and predicting user needs.


2. Emphasis on Data Security and Compliance

As data protection regulations continue to evolve, onboarding processes will need to ensure strict compliance, building trust with customers from the outset.


3. Virtual Reality (VR) Onboarding Experiences

As VR technology advances, businesses will explore immersive onboarding experiences that simulate product usage in a virtual environment.


Wrap Up — The Road Ahead for Customer Onboarding

Customer onboarding in 2023 is a fast-evolving element of any businesses, demanding a shift towards personalized experiences that focus on post-sales success. Learning from the influence of tech giants, businesses can pave the way for a future where onboarding is synonymous with exceptional customer care, and as you navigate this new landscape, the road ahead promises exciting innovations and opportunities for businesses to forge deeper, more meaningful connections with their customers.


For more information on how technology can help you streamline your customer onboarding process, download Spike today and delve into our powerful communications tools, as well as experience what a truly successful onboarding process looks like with our personalized content, alongside our how-to guides and video tutorials in the help center.

Sivan Kaspi Sivan is the Director of Marketing at Spike. A firm believer that the right kind of tech actually helps us use it less, she is passionate about tools that improve our lives. She starts off each morning reviewing her Spike feed over a good cup of coffee.

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