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Onboarding process guide: how to retain new clients and employees 14 min read
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Struggling to set up an efficient onboarding process for new hires in your organization? You’re not alone.

Only 12% of American employees think that their company did a good job of onboarding them into their new role.

That leads to all sorts of problems, like poor workplace engagement, a higher turnover rate, and lower productivity.

On the client side, 55% of customers have returned a product because they don’t understand how to use it.

This article will break down how to master both employee and client onboarding and avoid these issues. To navigate straight to the section which interests you most, click below:

What is the onboarding process in human resources (HR) and sales?

In HR, the onboarding process is a workflow you follow to help every new hire learn and adjust to their new job and environment.

It starts the second you make a new hire and only finishes when they complete their training and start contributing as a full-fledged team member.

In sales, onboarding is the process of teaching your new customers how to use your product or service.

It can mean the difference between high churn rates and low profit margins and healthy long-term customer relationships.

In both instances, an effective onboarding program relies on a mix of automation, ready-made training material, and human interactions.

For example, a mentorship program can do wonders for your new hires, and account managers or customer success specialists can do the same for your new clients.

Below, we’ll cover both the benefits of and how to implement employee and client onboarding processes in detail.

What are the benefits of a robust employee onboarding process?

In this section, we’ll cover the benefits of a robust onboarding process for new employees.

Higher employee retention

In 2020, 37.9% of employees left their new job within a year or less. Many of these left within the first few months.

Here’s how the numbers break down, according to a study by Work Institute:

Turnover rate graph

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Almost 30% of all turnover happens within the first 2 months.

That means over 10% of all new employees hired will quit within their first 60 days. 

A good onboarding program can help you deal with this overwhelming exodus of talent.

69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for 3 years if they experienced great onboarding.

So what does that mean for your company? Not just more loyal, skilled employees, but also a big reduction in hiring costs.

Save money on hiring expenses

Hiring a single employee costs most companies between $2,000–$6,000 per new hire. That’s a big expense for any business, not just an SMB or startup.

Cost-per-hire graph

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If over half of your new hires stay longer, that means you’ll save a significant amount of money over the long term.

For example, if you only hire 10 new employees per year — and 5 of them stay longer — you’ll save between $10,000 and $30,000 per year, on average. Reducing employee turnover can make a big difference to your bottom line.

And the benefits go far beyond cost savings alone.

A more engaged workforce

Companies with a strong onboarding program had 33% more engaged employees than the average company.

Engaged employees are more likely to consistently do work that matters and create value for your company. They’re dialed in to why your company does what it does and who they serve.

Employee engagement is crucial to creating a successful business. Onboarding is where it all starts — so don’t skimp on this part of the process.

More productive team members faster

By training employees from the day you hire them, they can start contributing a lot faster. They won’t need constant baby-sitting or in-person training from other team members on every little detail.

For example, a video tutorial can show them exactly how to use and get comfortable with all digital tools from day one.

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What are the steps in an employee onboarding process?

A robust employee onboarding process includes pre-hire evaluation, team introduction, training, and much more.

Ensure a good team fit before making the hire

Even before making a new hire, it’s important that you evaluate how they could fit into your team. Even with the best onboarding experience in the world, a bad culture fit is a bad culture fit.

You can’t force a square peg into a round hole and expect ideal results. Hiring someone who will thrive in your work environment is the first step.

Candidate assessment is never easy, but it’s even more challenging now that the process is often, at least partially, remote.

According to research by Workable, most companies struggle with remote candidate engagement, evaluation, and onboarding.

Graph of remote hiring challenges

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To circumvent this issue, you need to create a remote interview process where you involve team members too, not just HR staff.

Introduce them to their team and role

The second step is to introduce them to their new team and role. You should cover not just their core tasks and responsibilities, but also high-level goals and expectations.

For both in-office and remote teams, arranging a team-building session is a great idea.

Train them in general business processes and tools

An onboarding checklist is a great tool here to help your new hires get started quickly. You can use it as the basis to help them complete a simple training program.

For example, each digital tool could be a checklist item, with a quick training video and sample tasks.

Use custom employee onboarding software or a project management platform to track the process.

Have them do a sample project or task

Once the new employee is familiar with the tools of their job, you should confirm that they’re up to speed with a sample project or task.

It should be in line with their core responsibilities, but with an added safety net of management feedback before delivery.

For example, they could create a sales proposal and have the sales manager double-check it before sending it in. You can also opt to let them go through job simulations to see if they have the right mix of skills they need for the role. 

Integrate them fully into the team

Once they’ve proven that they can do their job, it’s time to make them a full-blown team member.

Include them in meetings and decision-making processes throughout all core projects.

The more you involve them, the faster they’ll learn. Full involvement of even new employees is a crucial part of democratic leadership in the workplace.

What is an employee onboarding checklist?

An employee onboarding template essentially outlines the crucial steps for a new employee to learn the ropes.

For example, it can outline all the tools and software you need to start doing your job, as well as team members and managers to meet.

Employee onboarding checklist template in

It’s the roadmap to help every new employee get started on the right foot.

It should include:

  • All tools —- software and physical — that your employees need to get used to
  • Any crucial clients or internal company stakeholders they should meet
  • Any virtual onboarding sessions or in-person training
  • Crucial video lessons on company culture, mission, or other subjects beyond mere tools

This single document should help give your new hires context. Include as much information as you can without going overboard.

It shouldn’t be an overwhelming document with no end in sight. The goal is to help every new team member hit the ground running.

Benefits of effective customer onboarding

In the intro, we covered that more than half of customers have returned a product due to not understanding how to use it — essentially, due to bad onboarding.

That means you could be losing a large portion of new customers due to a lack of “mastery”. It doesn’t matter how powerful your software or service is if they don’t know how to use it.

And 90% of customers feel that the companies could do better at onboarding new users.

Lower churn and related costs.

US companies lose $168 billion per year due to avoidable consumer switching and churn.

The CallMiner Churn Index shows a steep increase in churn over the past few years across multiple industries.

Table of churn percentage by industry

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Broadband providers experienced an annual churn of 32%. In other words, every year, they lose almost a 3rd of their existing customers.

Dan Wolchonok has researched why customers churn in the early stages. He found that SaaS companies that suffer from high churn rates suffer from poor onboarding — with 60% of customers “not seeing value” or “not understanding the product.”

Chart of reasons for churn

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Whether you’re a SaaS company or service provider, you should aim to minimize avoidable churn with an effective onboarding program.

Read also: Guide to customer onboarding

Loyal customers are willing to spend more.

Good onboarding is the first step to getting loyal customers. And loyal customers are one of the biggest assets for long-term growth.

56% of customers are willing to spend more on a brand they’re loyal to — even if there are cheaper options.

And with B2B clients, the longer they stay with you, the more likely they are to invest more in your services as the company grows.

But none of this is possible without a robust onboarding workflow and program. You can’t just hope that your customers will become more loyal. You need to lay the groundwork.

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Customer onboarding process broken down — 5 crucial steps

When it comes to customer onboarding, you need to create a reliable process that every customer can follow.

Create a robust tutorial and build it into your progress — use text and video

The first step is to create a robust tutorial that helps your users understand your product. Make sure to include video as well, so you can help visual learners better grasp the approach.

When reading a purely text-based tutorial, many users may not understand your instructions correctly. That can lead to higher churn rates and worse customer satisfaction rates.

Ideally, you should use a mix of text and video. If you need some pointers, you can check out our tutorial pages for inspiration. tutorial page

Include navigation, like search and table of contents, to help your users find the specific instructions they need.

Hold webinars or in-person training events

It’s not enough to just create a static tutorial and hope that everyone will help themselves. You should also hold active onboarding sessions to help new customers adjust.

Webinars are a great way to do this at scale, as one customer success agent can help many new customers at the same time.

Some webinar software even integrate with other tools you use on a daily basis, so you can serve bespoke onboarding experiences almost under one roof. 

By actively walking customers through your product, and answering all of their questions, you start the customer relationship off on the right foot.

Use surveys and data to gauge progress.

Once you’ve started your onboarding program, you need to actively track how effective it is. You can do this by setting up automated surveys based on intervals or interactions.

You should also track and evaluate usage data, like how often a user logs in to use your product. The key to the successful onboarding of customers is data.

Follow up automatically when it matters most

Once you have the insights from surveys and data, you should use that to follow up with unsatisfied or confused customers.

The goal of the process should be to reach out to your customers at the right moment. If they answered that they’re not seeing the value from your product, or you can see from their usage data that they’re not using it, it’s time to reach out.

Active customer success or account manager involvement is crucial to success

Human interactions are crucial to effectively onboarding as many users as possible. With paying customers, you have an obligation to help them make the most of their investment.

By using customer success agents or account managers, you can add a human element to your customer experience.

That can make an enormous difference, as customers feel appreciated and treated as human beings, not just numbers in a spreadsheet.

Create a standardized onboarding process with — for both HR and sales

With, you can create a standardized onboarding process for both sales and HR —  on the same platform.

Use our catalog of 200+ templates, intuitive automation builder, and advanced features to create workflows that help you minimize both employee turnover and customer churn.

Create your own employee onboarding checklist with our template

Use and customize our employee onboarding checklist template to get started in minutes. Make sure to include all the details we outlined earlier in this article.

Set up custom onboarding automation workflows

Timing is crucial for both new employee and customer onboarding. With’s automation builder, you can easily schedule surveys based on start dates or other actions.

Example of survey automation in

Surveys are a vital part of training both employees and customers effectively. So take advantage of this feature to make the most of your onboarding programs.

Manage and track customer interactions with our CRM features

With’s CommuniHub app, you can track customer interactions, like calls and emails, from within our interface.

CRM interaction log in

These records are crucial for helping account managers understand the context of each user.

If you’re looking to maximize the value of large contracts, you should make it a point to actively follow up with VIP clients.

Don’t just wait for an automated survey to ask them how they’re progressing. Actively check usage data and reach out the moment you see any red flags, like prolonged inactivity.

Standardize and document all business processes clearly

Another crucial benefit for employee onboarding is that you can clearly document all your business processes.

With, you can create workflow boards using 200+ templates tailored to different use cases and business processes.

A coherent digital workspace can help new employees adjust to your processes and hit the ground running without weeks of training.

Manage documentation effectively

With, you can add files directly to project deliverables and work items. That means new employees don’t have to scour an email or Slack thread to find the right information.

Empower new employees to find the details they need without constantly asking for help.

Onboarding is how you scale your company culture

If you want to not just hire an extra body but a new, loyal, productive member of your team and company, onboarding is crucial.

How well you teach new employees sets the tone for how they feel about your company, as well as how much work they can do.

It’s a crucial part of long-term growth. Use our employee hiring and onboarding templates to get a head start.

You can also use our CRM to create a coherent onboarding experience for all your new customers.

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