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How effective communication drives onboarding success

07 Sep, 2021 Employee engagement, experience, satisfaction, Marketing communication

Organizational socialization or onboarding is used in both marketing and staffing processes. When done right, it can help you retain more customers and employees. But what’s common to the process in these different fields? The answer: Effective communication drives onboarding success.

If you’re running a marketing campaign, your first goal is to convert the visitors into subscribers and potential leads. It may be a challenging process as it often takes time to convert them into long-term customers. But one way to keep them engaged is through an effective onboarding sequence. A retention marketing guide may also help, especially if you’re in e-commerce.

On the other hand, if you’re integrating new employees into your business, employee onboarding is important because, from the start, it maximizes a new employee’s retention and loyalty, feeling of belonging and inclusion, and their productivity. Onboarding will set the tone for their employment experience. Otherwise, they’ll feel uncertain and wonder if they’ve made the right decision to commit.

Marketing and staffing are different in many ways. But the onboarding process for both has one goal: to integrate and retain more people..

The onboarding process

Whether it’s for customers or employees, onboarding is a continuous process that goes through several stages:

1. Attracting prospects

This first step is often a challenge. How do you catch your prospect’s attention?

For most companies, this involves advertising, along with networking and social media marketing. However, many people will only look at your ads or marketing content briefly, and will then move along. The goal, in this case, is to catch their attention and interest long enough to get them to the next stage.

2. Encouraging engagement

So, you’ve got their attention. Now, how do you hold their interest?

When your prospect starts to ask questions, that means they want to know more. This is also your opportunity to promote the selling points of your business. Through an interactive engagement, the prospect may be convinced further to do business with you, whether it’s for a job or some products and/or services.

3. Making an offer

If your prospect continues to show interest, or even if they’re still sitting on the fence after your discussion, presenting your offer may help make up their mind. But is your offer something that can be useful to them? What are they getting in return?

Well, if you manage to convince them, you’re one step closer!

4. Official onboarding

When your prospect finally signs up, it means you’re onboarding them officially. Congratulations! This can be a customer signing up on your website, or a new employee signing the job contract you offered.

5. The retention process 

Your tasks continue once your prospects are successfully onboarded.  To keep them on board,  you’ll also have to work on retaining them.

For e-commerce companies, this includes making customers continue to feel welcome through providing a resource section comprising an interactive walkthrough as they progress through their product or service knowledge journey, a summary of frequently asked questions, check-ins and mini-celebrations for progress achieved in the customer journey.

For employers, initiate employee engagement and experience programs for the benefit of staff. Engage in a re-onboarding process to reassure workers and generate more stability. The shifts to remote and hybrid work, and then return to the office for many, plus continuing uncertainty about the future, mean that all your employees may be feeling insecure, anxious and untethered. These upheavals mean that almost all employees may now feel like they’re starting their jobs again from scratch. That has serious implications for the organization. By grasping the opportunity to re-onboard their teams, managers can lift teamwork, performance, and well-being for all.

Effective communication drives onboarding success

Did you notice how the entire onboarding process involves a process of continuing communication? In fact, effective communication drives onboarding success. A successful onboarding process requires two-way communication, where the company or employer seeks to understand their prospect better to convince them and encourage them to stay.

Here are key points about effective communication worth emphasizing:

It helps to catch and keep attention.

Catching people’s attention often requires creativity. In the first stage of the onboarding process, using ads that communicate through imagery, and perhaps a few words, are important. When an ad catches your prospect’s attention and it piques their interest long enough to make them dial the number it displays, then it’s done its job of ‘speaking’ to its targets.

It maintains engagement.

Sparking someone’s interest in a conversation takes some skill. One of the many ways effective communicators develop this skill is by learning to understand body language. They can easily catch cues even when someone only shows subtle signs of interest, even if they appear hesitant. This is what they use as a signal to continue conversing, and also gives them an idea about how to proceed to further stimulate engagement. When there’s engagement, you have more chances of creating a professional relationship.

It helps to relay the right message.

If there’s poor communication anywhere in the stages of onboarding, it may disrupt the process. Imagine making an inquiry on a company you’re interested in and then receiving incomplete or wrong information. Wouldn’t it put you off? For businesses, that’s a lost prospect. Providing complete messages with accuracy is a must if you want to keep your prospects’ interest.

It facilitates better understanding.

Before a prospect becomes interested in your offer, they have to understand it first. If your company has something to offer, effective communication will help your prospect understand what exactly you’re offering and how it may benefit them. ‘Understanding’ is what should happen when you engage a prospect and when you make an offer.

It convinces your prospects.

Convincing your prospect to trust you is perhaps the most difficult. But if you can communicate confidently, and explain well how your offer can benefit your prospect, you might have a bigger chance at convincing them.

The art of convincing also includes knowing how to appeal to your prospect’s inner interests. Again, we go back to the effective communicator who’s capable of taking cues from the other person’s body language.

It encourages retention.

Retaining people in a company is a cycle of tasks. But to do this, you also need to have an understanding of what may encourage or motivate your customers or employees to stay with you. This is where feedback comes in. But in order to be effective, the feedback collection process should be well-planned – one that asks the right questions. And finally, it matters what you do with the feedback you have collected.

You can read more about the employee side of things in my article, “Opportunities for PR in new staff recruitment and onboarding.

How to make your onboarding process more efficient with communication

  • Standardize – Devise a standard procedure that uses effective communication strategies.
  • Personalize – Customize your messages to your target audiences.
  • Collect feedback – Find out what your prospects think by asking the right questions.
  • Revise as needed – Make changes to your processes according to significant feedback.
  • Celebrate success – Regularly appreciate small accomplishments – a communication activity that will keep your target group inspired.
  • Track results – Consolidate and analyze all your data, and use them to improve you process.
  • Assign a reliable point of contact – Make sure you have lines of contact open in which  the right answers can be given to questions.

Takeaways

Throughout the early times with new customers and employees, effective and progressive communication drives onboarding success. Understanding how both verbal and non-verbal communication works will help employers create materials and methods that speak directly to their prospects. Without a doubt, a successful onboarding process will attract and keep more employees and customers. But if you want it to be successful at every stage, effective communication methods are a must.

About Kim Harrison – author, editor and content curator

Kim Harrison, Founder and Principal of Cutting Edge PR, loves sharing actionable ideas and information about professional communication and business management. He has wide experience as a corporate affairs manager, consultant, author, lecturer, and CEO of a non-profit organization. Kim is a Fellow and former national board member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, and he ran his State’s professional development program for 7 years, helping many practitioners to strengthen their communication skills. People from 115 countries benefit from the practical knowledge shared in his monthly newsletter and in his books available from cuttingedgepr.com.

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