Data exchange

Reduce customer churn with better onboarding: Here’s how

Sheila Lahar

Posted 6/30/2021

Avoidable customer churn is costing U.S. businesses $136 billion a year. (Check out more customer churn and onboarding stats.)  

Companies today need to execute a flawless onboarding experience for their customers. Not only does a positive onboarding experience ensure that the relationship gets off on the right foot but better customer onboarding can reduce the risk of churn.   

According to Donna Weber, consultant and author of the book Onboarding Matters

“Bringing customers onboard is the most important part of the customer journey. Yet, despite this being so critical, poor onboarding is the main cause of churn. It’s estimated that more than half of customer churn is related to poor customer onboarding and poor customer service.” 

Flatfile along with the Customer Success Association brought together an exciting panel discussion dedicated to the ways in which companies can reduce churn through better customer onboarding.

Below are four lessons learned from the recent webinar featuring Donna Weber, consultant and author of Onboarding Matters along with Will Stevenson, Co-Founder and COO of and our very own Ryan DeForest who leads Support Operations and Strategy here at Flatfile.

If interested in watching the webinar, check it out:

1. The hand off is not the kick off 

When most companies close a deal they jump right into the kickoff and start diving into the technical weeds. There are data migrations, APIs to connect, customizations, etc. But giant to do lists are no way to start a relationship. Your internal teams and customer-facing teams should be aligned - ideally that’s where the handoff comes in - you’ve established a relationship and now you’re showing customers the path to success. There shouldn’t be a feeling of being passed off on the customer’s side, rather it should feel like a smooth transition. This feeling can make or break trust early on in onboarding. 

2. Visibility and accountability are key  

It’s important to provide visibility and transparency to customers early on. Customers should always know what they should be doing or who specifically should be doing what. It’s difficult to hold customers accountable without any visibility into the process. Speaking of accountability, it’s essential for effective onboarding. Customers need to be held accountable to what they agreed upon so that they can in turn be successful with your product (success = less likely to churn). If you bought a car and didn’t know how to drive, you would want to learn. The same applies to software. When a company makes a software purchase they want to use it and so they need to learn. The more you can hold them accountable early on, the better. 

3. Practice proactive onboarding

There are ways to proactively get ahead of the handoff and provide a more personalized onboarding experience. Before meeting with the customer there are sales calls you can listen in on, support tickets that may have been filed. Coming into a new customer relationship armed with knowledge is pretty powerful. There are technologies like Flatfile that help with the data onboarding process, ensuring its smooth and seamless. Starting off with a good first impression means you’re building a solid relationship with the customer from day one. 

4. Onboarding roles within your company will depend on your company 

This is to say that roles and responsibilities for customer onboarding are dependent on many factors such as the product you sell as well as the size of the customer within your customer base. At Flatfile, we’re fairly tech heavy from the start and work with a company’s engineering team. In this way the onboarding focus is on the implementation itself. Other companies don’t need engineers involved to get their products up and running and a Customer Success Manager role could serve as implementation specialist and trainer all rolled into one. It’s critical to make sure you know the roles and the direction you’re headed in as a business so that your customer has the best experience possible. 

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