Vendor Transition and Migration – Customer Onboarding Best Practices
By Amber Knight, Senior Project Manager and Analyst
The customer communications management (CCM) onboarding process is the first opportunity for your organization to connect with a new customer and is a key building block in the foundation of the relationship. An effective onboarding process not only gives your customer a clear path forward, but also supports the lasting first impression of a long-term relationship.
My experience in the field has uncovered 3 key considerations that support both a smooth onboarding process and customer satisfaction:
1. A clear map for the journey – Be a tour guide
2. Streamlined framework – Be prepared to modify as needed
3. Communication – The extra effort goes a long way
1. A clear map for the journey
Be a tour guide
The first step to successful onboarding is to clearly define the journey. Much like a tour guide, the project manager should provide an overview of the process and highlight key milestones to be expected along the project’s journey. Throughout the project, the map should be reviewed to communicate items such as current status and next steps. This should be presented in a simple and easy-to-follow visual representation of your organization’s standard process, so that customers are not overwhelmed or confused by what you have presented to them. Showing them a process map in the form of a flow chart can be a highly effective communication tool.
2. Streamlined onboarding framework
Be prepared to modify as needed
When it comes to onboarding a new customer, it is equally important that the framework is flexible and allows the team to pivot based on the circumstances that are unique to the project.
Keep it simple. Try to make processes as straightforward as possible, so that everyone can easily understand and follow. Keeping it simple supports more efficient and effective teams.
Expect the unexpected. It’s important to be prepared for the changes that will inevitably come up, so be prepared to adjust when and where needed. Your initial plan may be as accurate as possible, but it will almost certainly need some tweaks after you’ve worked with your new customer for a while.
Communication is key. Establish clear lines of communication and keep all business partners in the loop. This will ensure that everyone has all the information they need to make decisions with confidence, while avoiding confusion and misunderstandings.
The extra effort goes a long way
Empathy cannot be understated. It is important to remember that every customer has different requirements, expectations and experience. Being empathetic to their situation by understanding where they are coming from and adjusting your approach accordingly is a powerful relationship-builder.
Consider the impacts of the transition. Having experience with, or at least exposure to, organizational change management (OCM) can be a big advantage. Often CCM transitions impact several business units that are not part of the core project team. Identifying project champions to help promote a positive reception to future changes can be an effective way of proactively communicating changes to come. The idea is to think beyond the customer in front of you. Consider the upstream and downstream processes impacted. Ensure that communication plans include the customer’s internal and external stakeholders.
Ensure everyone is on the same page. Active listening and proactive communication can prevent confusion and support a clear understanding of what is being delivered…then it needs to be documented. Using a requirements traceability matrix (RTM) is a great tool that supports these efforts.
A successful transition and migration project requires these two key things: Understanding your client’s needs and adapting to their needs with empathy, patience and creative thinking.
Looking to accelerate your implementation timelines? Do you have over-stretched resources?
Madison Advisors is here to help — from advisory services through managing a re-vamp of your onboarding process or project management office (PMO). Madison Advisors assists organizations in fully examining their CCM strategy with a focus on how CCM supports a positive customer experience and engagement.