Remember the old expression “you only get one chance to make a first impression”?  Well, it is still true with both employees and customers.  While the steps to successful on boarding are different for each, the success of this process is critical to the formation of sustainable long-term relationships.

New Employee On Boarding

The objectives of the new employee on-boarding process are:

  • Make them feel welcome,
  • Get them productive quickly,
  • Answer their initial questions,
  • Teach them about the company or department culture,
  • Make them excited to return to work every day.

While different businesses have different ways to accomplish these objectives, I have found that a few basic steps go a long way to achieving success:

  • Meet and greet the new employee when she first enters the building.
  • Go to the cafeteria or break room, have a cup coffee or glass of water and explain how the day will play out.  Also get any questions she has and either answer then immediately or promise to get an answer the same day.
  • Take her to HR and make sure you are called when she is through with the paperwork.  Try to make this step short.
  • Take the newbie to her desk and do the normal housekeeping stuff like point out the bathroom, office supplies and break facilities.
  • Introduce her to her on-boarding coach/mentor.  This is the person who will show her the ropes, teach her the job, and make sure she is comfortable. Let them work together for the morning.
  • Take both the newbie and mentor to lunch at the type of place consistent with your culture. Don’t talk “work,” talk about culture and expectations.  At this meal, I always told my new employees that I only have 2 rules;
    • Do right for our customers
    • if you are not sure about a decision, picture it being written about on the front page of the local and her hometown newspapers.  If she doesn’t like how it would go over then she is not making the right decision.
  • After lunch let the two of them work out how the afternoon will play out.
  • Check in with both the newbie and mentor a little before quitting time.  Make sure she has had all of her questions and concerns answered.
  • Make sure the two of them keep in close contact throughout the coming weeks but the newbie should be left on her own as much as she feels comfortable since that is the only was she will make mistakes, ask questions, and learn.
  • Over the first few months check in periodically and make sure everything is OK.

New Customer On Boarding

The objectives of the new customer on-boarding process are:

  • Make them feel welcome.
  • Set expectations.
  • Answer their initial questions.
  • Tell them what will be happening from the time their order was received until the customer is trained and getting value from their purchase.
  • Make sure they know who will be responsible for each step and how to contact them with any questions.

These are the steps I found to be most effective in making new customers feel comfortable with their purchase and not develop a case of buyer’s remorse:

  • Welcome them to the elite organization of users of your product.
  • Explain how the on-boarding process works.
  • Give them a list of key individual contacts and their contact information.
  • Tell them the expected schedule and when and how often it will be reviewed.
  • Explain any unique installation requirements and make sure they will be ready when the equipment arrives.
  • As the installation day approaches, turn over the responsibility for on boarding to the installation team but make yourself available to help in needed.
  • Check in with the customer after each step of the process.  Share observations, etc. with your counterparts in Sales.
  • After equipment sign-off, send a brief satisfaction survey and follow up as appropriate.
  • Check in at the 1, 3, and 6-month anniversaries of sign-off and again make sure all is well.  This is critical because if a user is not actively using your product within this time frame, there is only a 10% chance he ever will become an active user.
  • Survey again after 1 year, which should coincide with the end of warranty.  If appropriate discuss your service agreements and recommend an appropriate solution for them.

This process, as with the new employee on boarding, should yield highly satisfied, very loyal employees and customers.  Give it a try!