First impressions matter. A lot.
My wife and I recently dropped our son off to begin his freshman year at Butler University in Indianapolis. He moved into his dormatory on Saturday morning, and we spent the remainder of Saturday and much of Sunday attending "Welcome Week" events - orientation sessions for new students and their parents.
The primary purpose of Butler's "Welcome Week" was to give new students and their parents (new customers of the University) a good understanding of the University, its leadership, facilities and establish a community feel ithat was all about us - the customers.
As my wife and I began our 1,100 mile trip back to Maine without our son, we were confident feeling that our son is in a good place; a university led by faculty and administrators who will guide our son well through this important stage of his life; a university whose facilities will give our son the opportunity to do things that will contribute well to his college education and growth; and a university that recognizes that the parent is as much a customer as the student.
As new customers, we were made to feel confident that we'd made the right purchase decision for our son, because we were given a well-orchestrated positive customer experience, to kick off the next four years. Welcome Week has made us enthused members of the Butler community: we're eager to participate in future events (including those ubiquitous capital campaigns) as Butler Parents. In a word, the University took steps to make us engaged customers on day one.
Butler did well what a lot of organizations fail to do: They planned and executed a customer-focused on-boarding process for their new customers.
Many organizations already have a defined on-boarding process, but its internally-focused on the company's processes, instead of the customer. For example, it's more about setting up customer records correctly in computer systems, and allocating resources to "deliver the goods" than it is about quickly engaging the customer, and making the customer feel comfortable and confident about their purchase decision.
Organizations that implement a carefully-planned customer-focused on-boarding process tend to have more satisfied and engaged customers with greater lifetime value.
The new customer on-boarding process can be distilled down to three key elements:
1. Set Clear Expectations.
They communicated the purpose of the onboarding process through emails and mailers, so that both parents and students had clear expectations before arriving on campus.
2. Present the Product.
They presented the product through entertaining and informative activities, and presentations by the University's leadership. It had been a while since most parents and students visited the campus, so this re-freshed our memories, and gave us a throrough and positive understanding of the product quality.
3. Foster Customer Community.
They provided an opportunity for new customers to meet and enage with one another, to foster a sense of customer community. When customers meet one another and keep it touch, it generates a greater desire to belong, and participate within the community as a customer.
Customer-focused on boarding that sets clear expectations for the customer, presents the product in informative and entertaining ways, and creates customer community positions the customer for a more positive and beneficial experience. It also benefits the "seller" by laying the groundwork for stronger customer engagement and lifetime value.
Does your organization have an intentionally-designed on-boarding process that's customer-focused?
Is the process executed consistently with each new customer?