The purpose of onboarding isn’t mysterious: Hiring is expensive, and onboarding helps you get the most out of that investment by improving time to competency and retention.
At least in theory.
The reality is that employee onboarding is often generic, dull, and not all that useful. It can create a poor first impression and fail at its primary goal of building comfort and competence.
Sometimes, this is because an organization doesn’t have a formalized onboarding process and every new hire is onboarded on an ad hoc basis. This is obviously a nightmare from a quality and consistency perspective.
But even businesses that have a dedicated learning and onboarding program are often failing to make the most of their talent investment. Truly great onboarding doesn’t just teach people about the software they’re going to use and the agreements they need to sign; great onboarding makes them fall in love with their new organization and start making an impact immediately.
This doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a dedicated, systemized approach, as well as powerful technology.
Fortunately, you don’t need to start from scratch: There are learning technologies that make it easy to deliver consistent and effective onboarding to employees, customers, and partners alike. You may already be using some. But if you aren’t—you should be.
#1. Why use learning software for onboarding?
When you think about it, onboarding is learning. You’re familiarizing a new employee with your organization or a new customer or partner with your product or service. You want the audience to learn and then retain the information they need, and the quicker that happens, the quicker they can help your business make money. Ka-ching!
This means that the quality of your learning software dictates your business’ ability to onboard successfully and to:
- Cut training costs.
- Accommodate multiple learning audiences with specific training.
- Get the best productivity, engagement, and loyalty from your people.
- Decrease customer churn.
- Improve channel partner performance.
#2. Onboarding customers
Depending on the industry, the cost of acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5x to 25x higher than retaining an existing customer. This makes strong customer onboarding critical—especially for businesses where the value of a customer increases after the initial sale.
Think about a product or service you love. It could be Spotify Premium or the local bakery’s ginger molasses cookie. Odds are you didn’t need Spotify or your bakery to onboard you, because the service is easy to use and the product is easy to acquire.
But would you still love Spotify if you had to watch 10 hours of training videos before you could play a song? Or if your bakery only let you pay in exact change? Probably not.
Most businesses are complicated, and getting the most out of their offering takes know-how. This is why customer onboarding is so important: It helps customers get more value more quickly.
But here’s the gamechanger: Solid onboarding and a great learning platform also reduce the time spent on customer support and increase customer profitability.
To do it though, it’s not enough to have a simple repository of customer resources. Software is an instrumental part of creating, deploying, and measuring customer onboarding, as well as ensuring customer success.
#3. Onboarding partners
Channel partners can bring a lot of value to your business. But as with any partnership, it takes work and communication.
According to Steven Jones, VP of Strategic Development at SpringCM, “Onboarding is the most important step in a channel partner relationship. This initial phase is all about first impressions – and first impressions are everything. A poor onboarding experience can quickly devalue your partner relationship before it even begins.”
Bad onboarding can also lower your business’ credibility and risk the possibility for future partnerships. Worse still, it can reduce the value that channel partners can bring to your organization, throttling your ability to grow.
Again, tech can help. One of the best things about leveraging web-based training software for onboarding is that it will provide real insight into how training is impacting partner performance. You can able to see a correlation between partners who participate in training and their business results and sales success compared to those who don’t train. This is a fantastic way to validate your L&D efforts and get results that the business will celebrate.
#4. Onboarding employees
A recent study by SHRM found that new employees who completed structured onboarding programs and training sessions were 69% more likely to remain at the company for up to three years. However, another study by Allied found that only 66% of organizations actually train their new employees as part of onboarding. Oof.
Onboarding is more than watching some videos and making team intros. Using learning software to actually train your people can set them (and the business!) up for success. Key factors to look for include personalized learning (often powered by AI) so that new recruits receive the training relevant for them, as well as social learning so that they simultaneously learn and connect with their new colleagues.
#5. Facilitating the onboarding process
The value of onboarding your customers, partners, and employees can’t be overstated. And in order to support this process, your onboarding software should have functions to help you:
Leverage grouping. Your learning technology shouldn’t create more work; it should allow automation of recurring administrative tasks, such as user grouping and enrollment to increase efficiency.
Keep learners on track. Learning software should empower learners to be able to find the information they need, when they need it, at their own pace. It should also keep learners on track so they can get ramped up as quickly as possible.
Support features like notifications, certification/retraining management, mobile learning, social learning, and gamification to make it even easier for learners to stay the course.
Work with your existing technology stack. Your onboarding software should provide out-of-the-box integrations with tools that are already essential to your business operations, such as your CRM, video conferencing tools, Slack, and so on.
Empower instructors, admins, and managers to keep learners accountable and successful. This helps learners get development, feedback, new courses, and input from the proper channels.
Provide insights. Successful onboarding programs are those that drive measurable results. Onboarding tools should also provide insights into learner progress that will allow you to link learning to organizational performance.
Most importantly, your LMS should be able to evolve with your organization’s growth and your future learner needs. Your onboarding programs are guaranteed to change along with your business and you need a platform that can keep up.
At the end of the day, whether you are onboarding customers, partners, or employees, you want them to fall in love with their experience and with your brand. A solid learning plan powered by an amazing LMS will help create a strong first impression, more revenue and growth, and better outcomes for everyone.