Beginner’s Guide to High-Touch Onboarding: What Is It and How to Do It Right?

Elen Udovichenko
March 19, 2024
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high-touch onboarding guide

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When new customers come on board, they start their journey with a clean slate. Regardless of how intuitive your product is, many will still need some guidance to get the most out of it. Having a formal onboarding process can solve this problem reducing the time to value and allowing the customers to quickly adapt your product to their current needs.

However, if we look at the statistics, more than 90% of buyers think that the companies could do a better onboarding process leading to 55% of them returning their order because they don’t understand how to use it. This is where a high-touch onboarding approach comes into play. 

Let’s start with the definitions and explore some tips to build a successful high-touch onboarding process.

What is high-touch onboarding?

High-touch onboarding heavily relies on personal interactions with more touchpoints between your customer success team and your customer, usually with the help of various customer collaboration tools. This allows you to make it easier for your customers to adopt the new product or service, starting with the first interaction. Such a strategy aims to offer clients a pleasant and lasting impression that eventually leads to a rise in client satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.

Key elements of high-touch onboarding

Every customer is unique and requires different levels of support and guidance. And high-touch onboarding approach is aware of that and is all about creating a personalized and hands-on experience for them. There are some simple elements to create such an environment for your customers.

  • Clear communication: Giving clear and exhaustive information about your product and best practices for its usage as well as being present to answer any questions from your customers is the key to high-touch onboarding.
  • Individual training: Your onboarding shouldn’t be too general, a high-touch approach implies personalized training programs tailored to the needs and goals of your customers.
  • Regular check-ins: Proactively reach out to your customers and see if they feel happy or satisfied with your product and act upon their concerns or difficulties they might have.
  • Social interactions: Create authentic connections with your customers outside of your product — interact with them on social media, etc. — to build personal, lasting relationships.

Benefits of a high-touch onboarding

Implementing a high-touch onboarding model could benefit both your customer and you. You can increase the customer retention rate by up to 10%, gain more customers by increasing the referrals by 16%, and enable customers to decide in favor of purchasing with a successful onboarding process.

  • Customer success: Personal onboarding can lead to immediate ROI and satisfaction by setting customers up for success from day one.
  • Personalized experience: Customers are delighted when companies spare the time to explore their specific requirements and focus on their goals.
  • Proactive problem-solving: Thanks to high-touch onboarding, you can easily find and fix minor problems way before they turn into significant ones.
  • Enhanced product understanding: Staff training and assisting the clients personally allows them to master your product or service shortly.
  • Relationship building: The personalized onboarding allows you to build lasting relationships with clients, leading to loyalty and retention.

What is a low-touch onboarding?

Low-touch customer onboarding is a strategy that depends on self-service functionalities and tools to help consumers simply utilize a product on their own. As a result, there’s no customer success team involved (or their role is limited).

What is the difference between low-touch and high-touch onboarding?

Do you know the difference between self-service restaurants and where the waiters are serving you? The customer onboarding process is somewhat similar. 

On one hand, low-touch onboarding resembles the fast food experience where most processes are automated and involve self-service. At the same time, high-touch onboarding is customer-centric and involves a lot more one-to-one interactions.

The main differences lie in how these two approaches scale and the involved cost. High-touch operations require more resources and are less scalable, but on the other hand, low-touch operations fail to give a similar depth or purposeful personalization by prioritizing efficiency and scalability.

High-touch service examples:

  • Personalized one-on-one onboarding calls or meetings
  • Assigned customer success managers
  • Personalized training materials and resources

Low-touch service examples:

  • Self-service onboarding guides or tutorials
  • Automated email or chatbot
  • Standardized training videos or webinars

Why not both?

Adding high-touch onboarding provides a more personalized and engaging experience and mostly makes your customers more satisfied. However, it may not be efficient or cost-effective for everyone. So, combining high- and low-touch onboarding approaches could be the best solution for them. You can change the approach according to your customer types (high-value to low-value) or product type (complex to less complex).

What is zero-touch onboarding?

As we’re exploring the differences between high- and low-touch approaches, there’s one more option worth mentioning — zero-touch onboarding.

As the name suggests, the zero-touch approach aims to remove human interaction as much as possible in the onboarding process. It eliminates the need for any manual action or help from the client support teams, so the new users can get started with the product/service on their own.

Low-tech high-touch vs high-tech low-touch approach

Based on the level of tech and human touch involved, two opposite approaches to customer onboarding exist:

  • The low-tech high-touch onboarding method is basic and doesn’t include specific sophisticated tools. It is utilized to supply adequate personal support and consultation to customers in person. This strategy may be powerful but not necessarily as scalable and low as in the uptake of high-tech low-touch practices. 
  • The high-tech low-touch onboarding approach uses cutting-edge technology like automation and artificial intelligence which when employed give customers an option of self-service support and counseling. On the positive side, the use of up-stepped technology can be more scaled and efficient, but it may not be the same level of personalized support when compared with the use of the low-tech high-touch approaches.

Challenges in scaling high-touch onboarding

Although high-touch onboarding has positive effects on your customers and you, it can be challenging for a few reasons:

  • Resource allocation: Being able to have enough human resources to give personalized attention to all clients could be difficult and these difficulties might become more serious as the client base increases.
  • Consistency across teams: Preserving the high standards and promptness of services of your onboarding experience throughout all teams, departments, and branches is a challenging task but could be simplified if proper management and training are provided.
  • Technology integration: Upgrading technology while still employing human interaction means a big leap. Structuring the appropriate usage of automation for boosting efficiency and retaining the personal touch is a significant concern.
  • Time constraints: The personalized onboarding process often involves a manager, trainer, and customer care staff, who should allocate their time and energy. The ability to pull this off on top of other responsibilities, however, could be a real challenge if the sales are coming in at a very fast pace.
  • Scaling culture: With the company growing, it is only challenging to maintain and grow its unique culture. Making sure that new customers not only understand but also live the company values and cultural norms can only be achieved by creating the right measures and keeping for this purpose the reinforcement.
  • Feedback mechanisms: Developing a system of feedback that will consequently be used for the improvement of onboarding effectiveness is of great significance. On the other hand, collecting and analyzing specific feedback from all the customers with different backgrounds can have its drawbacks as well.
  • Cost considerations: Putting together and operating high-contact onboarding systems may involve additional costs such as technology-related investments, training programs, and personnel. Balancing these costs with the likely ROI requires a cautious approach to budgeting and analysis.

When to choose a high-touch onboarding experience?

High-touch onboarding can be easily favored within the company due to its benefits but it may not be suitable for every situation. You need to understand the needs and put a suitable onboarding process type to maximize the effectiveness and allocate your resources efficiently.

  • When your product needs a tech-savvy customer

When your product requires deep technical knowledge and setup, your customers will get more benefits from your high-touch process. They need to understand how your product can address their needs or feature explanations, rather than just simple overviews.

  • When you need to deliver value quickly

You need to think about the timeline. High-touch onboarding can show you a way to onboard customers faster and help them achieve value from the product sooner. Rather than having your customers figure it out on their own, your CS team can quickly jump in and handhold them throughout the process.

  • When you have limited resources

In your early stages, you may not have access to advanced automation tools or the budget to get them. So, high-touch onboarding will be more practical to create close relations with your customers and exchange the money for the tools and automation with your human power.

How to implement the high-touch onboarding process?

High-touch onboarding process requires careful planning and coordination. Here are some tips and steps for you to ensure success:

  • Train your team: You should take your time to train your team about the product before it can be passed out to the customers. Make sure that your team can connect to your customers quickly and easily while also being able to offer timely and helpful assistance.some text
    • Get customer success managers in place so they can guide your clients and their teams throughout the onboarding process. They will help to make the onboarding process efficient, providing as much support as it is needed.
    • Build a collective atmosphere that supports the achievement of optimal quality and the development of knowledge. Every member of the crew should feel easy enough to tell them about their difficulties and ask for help in understanding something they don't understand.
  • Create a thorough onboarding process: Why not start from the beginning, and consider one stage at a time? Ultimately, it is about advancing a non-stop success program and letting customers know that you are always there for them regardless of what they might face is the key to building customer loyalty.some text
    • It is very important to set expectations for each stage of the onboarding process. Make sure to tailor your process to meet the desired customer outcomes and adjust it on the go personal follow-ups and provide solutions for possible issues as they arise. By doing so, you will make them feel engaged and invested.
  • Regularly gather feedback and measure success: Don’t let your processes get stale — regularly review your CS methods and tools to up your game. Apart from the other ways to track your CS performance, you should keep on reminding the customers to give their feedback which will be the key to providing them a great experience. some text
    • As a part of your customer success plan, it’s also important to agree on KPI indicators so that you will be working in a common direction with one result and making decisions based on this result.

Build your high-touch onboarding process with Flowla

Flowla can help you turn email ping-pong into engaging buyer journeys. It provides you with the tools to build a personalized high-touch onboarding experience for your customers via a single visual flow instead of using spreadsheets and long email threads.

  • Create a single source of truth that includes all onboarding materials keep your information well-structured and easy to navigate.
  • Build a step-by-step onboarding plan by breaking it down into digestible stages and ensuring your customer won’t miss anything.
  • Assign tasks to owners and set due dates to hold everyone accountable and ensure that necessary people show up and do the required steps.
  • Track the overall process to see how far along the onboarding plan is, where the bottlenecks are, and who needs any help.

High-touch onboarding with Flowla allows you to deliver an outstanding experience to each customer, raise their satisfaction, and improve retention. This can be your competitive advantage and the key to your business success.

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