7 Client Onboarding Mistakes That Drive Customers Away

By Todd White
Feb 24, 2021

You know you have an excellent product—you wouldn’t be selling it if you didn’t. Picture this: you think you do a pretty good job delivering it to your customers, but somehow, they are never quite satisfied at the end of the onboarding process. What gives? You could be making critical onboarding mistakes without even realizing it.

Here are seven things your customers dislike about your onboarding process—and what you can do to fix them.


1.   Customers Don’t Know What They’re Getting

On the customer side, the person managing the implementation isn’t always the same person who bought your product. That means they might not even know what they purchased and what you are planning to deliver.

The people who will use the product might also have different goals and needs from the people who purchased it.

How to fix it: Make sure you have all the right stakeholders on your implementation team—including the person who signed the sales contract. Then make sure everyone knows what the finish line looks like and what their team needs to handle.


2.   Customers Don’t Know When They’re Getting It

When you’re waiting for a table at a restaurant, you don’t just want to know where you are in the queue. You want to know exactly how long the wait will be. Your customers feel the same way about your onboarding process. They don’t just want to know they are in line. They want to know when they’ll get their food.

How to fix it: Set expectations from the very beginning with a clear overview of the entire project from start to finish. Don’t forget to include all your major milestones and delivery deadlines.


3.   Customers Don’t Know What Your Team Is Working On

Brace yourself for a #truthbomb. It doesn’t matter how smoothly your internal processes are running if your clients have no visibility into what you are doing.

You might be completing the hand-off from the sales team, setting up the project, and having internal kick-off calls. If your customer can’t see any of that, as far as they’re concerned, you might be doing nothing at all. This is one of the classic onboarding mistakes you can make.

How to fix it: Use automated processes to eliminate the gap between when a sale closes and the onboarding process begins. Use a saved template to create a new project quickly. Reach out right away with an automated welcome email. Make internal tasks visible on the project plan view so customers can see what you’re working on.

Help customers feel confident by making the onboarding process transparent from the start and giving everyone full visibility into what’s getting done.

Pro Tip: Create templates out of successful projects. This simple process removes people, comments, attachments while retaining the milestone and task data. As you improve your process, remember to create new templates that include those changes.


4.   Customers Don’t Know Their Next Steps

Managing the onboarding experience with manual processes like spreadsheets and email reminders leaves the door wide open for important client tasks to fall through the cracks. A lot of time gets wasted if everyone assumes they are waiting on someone else to complete the next task. No one likes having to point the finger at a colleague (or customer) who didn’t get the job done on time.

How to fix it: Customers should be able to see the entire project plan at a glance, including all their tasks and how they relate to the other work that needs to get done. Task reminders keep everyone clear on who has the ball. No one should have to chase information—or people—when tasks aren’t completed on time.


5.   Customers Don’t Know If They Are Creating Delays

If your project timeline is buried in email chains or scattered across Post-It notes, clients can’t look at the project as a whole, see their tasks in context, and figure out whether they are holding things up. This is means you can’t look across all your implementations to identify common bottlenecks. You could be making the same onboarding mistakes over and over without realizing it.

How to fix it: An implementation and onboarding platform that gives a comprehensive view of the whole project lets everyone see where things are getting stuck. It also helps you get your customers get unstuck. Give your customers multiple ways to check on projects and complete tasks. They should be able to choose how they engage with the project by logging in, through email, or a mobile app.


6.   Customers Don’t Want to Do Extra Work to Keep Track of Tasks

Do you spend all day making calls and sending emails to keep your projects moving? Then your onboarding process is not working. Are your customers constantly checking in to see what’s going on with their implementation? That’s a solid onboarding mistake, too.

Customers should never have to call you to find out where their project stands or what they have to do next. And they don’t have time to chase that information down either. Our research shows that customers complete 70 percent of implementation tasks outside of regular business hours. If your process requires them to be available when you are, you’ll get nowhere fast.

How to fix it: Set up tasks, let your customers know what they need to do, and let them complete the work on their own time. If you make project steps clear, your customers will complete tasks—even before the deadline—because they have visibility into the project timeline. Use automated task reminders and status updates to give your customers the information they need without having to spend any time chasing it down.


7.   Your Customers Aren’t Getting What They Expected

You might think you know a customer’s reason for buying your product or service, but you could be wrong. If you are wrong, you can’t deliver what your customers want, no matter how good your implementation process is. Don’t forget: you aren’t just working with an organization. You are working with individuals who have specific needs they expect your product or service to meet. Their reputations—even their jobs—can be on the line.

How to fix it: Before you do anything else, define what success looks like for your client—organization and individual. If they can’t quite articulate it, keep asking questions until you get there. This is one of the most common onboarding mistakes we see. Here’s how you can align client onboarding expectations.


Remember: Your customers chose you because they wanted what you have to offer. As long as you can deliver what they signed up for, they’ll be happy customers for a long time to come. We hope these common onboarding mistakes help prepare you for a better onboarding process!



Todd White


Recent Articles

An Easy Guide for Setting Customer Onboarding Goals and Objectives

In 2017, a Taiwanese hiker was discovered after being missing for 47 days on the most treacherous mountain in the world: Mt. Everest. He and his wife had decided to ascend the mountain without a guide and became lost after a powerful snowstorm. Without a guide or a...

GUIDEcx Is Coming to a City Near You!

The summer concert season is still a few months away, but GUIDEcx is already getting ready to launch its tour across the country. That’s right, GUIDEcx is hitting the road this year and we look forward to meeting you at one of our stops. GUIDEcx has around 20 events -...

Announcing the Launch of Office Hours

Our Guides are never far away from our customers. Because at GUIDEcx, we’re committed to helping companies improve their customer onboarding experience, satisfaction, and success.   That’s why we’re excited to announce the launch of Office Hours, a new monthly webinar...