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4 common mistakes when building a customer onboarding program

Updated: Apr 17

How avoiding these common pitfalls when designing customer onboarding can lead to a lasting relationship with clients and customers.

4 common mistakes when building a customer onboarding program

At Brilliant Workplaces, we love to work with organizations on their journey to transform their culture from customer aware to customer centric. Onboarding is an often overlooked start to the experience, whether it be for customers or employees.


Looking to delight employees and improve engagement? Download the complete guide to Perfecting Your Employee Onboarding.


To help, we have put together some of the most common mistakes we see organizations make when it comes to starting to optimize or plan their customer onboarding initiatives.

1. Not having a clear vision

Organizations get excited to focus on the customer, which is great. However, many have not done due diligence in understanding what they want to accomplish with their onboarding program. Having a vision applies to creating a customer onboarding or employee onboarding - you have to know where you are going so you can understand when you have been successful.

Start by outlining what changes need to be made, where the onboarding is today, and where it should be in the future. Yes, we all want it to be better.

Think about what success looks like—how will you know when you get there?

Having a clear vision is essential for moving from where a program is today to meeting goals and objectives for customer experience. It is necessary to help your teams understand where you are today and where you need to go in the future to be successful.

2. Not involving team members

We have seen organizations start the customer onboarding journey as an idea from leadership. Leadership can be the catalyst to get started and fund the initiative. However, if the initiative stays at a leadership level only, it is doomed to fail. Why? They haven’t heard from the people closest to the work, who know the customer best.

The best strategy for building a customer-centric onboarding program and getting it started is to start involving team members. This can be done through a committee or task force or a series of listening sessions throughout the program's life. What comes up in your research might be surprising.

3. Not involving the customer

We often see customer onboarding efforts talk about what customers want without asking what they want or using the voice of the customer data to find out. Assumptions can make or break a customer's onboarding experience. When working with organizations, I will always ask the question, “Have you asked the customer what they think?” The look that I get gives me the answer right there.

Sometimes, designers just need a reminder that this initiative is happening for the customer. Using the customer voice for perspective is key. You might be surprised to find an element or process that you hadn’t thought of or had prioritized. Asking and verifying is essential.

4. One-and-done training

With any change, there is going to be communication or education about new processes. However, this cannot be a one and done training. To be successful in truly changing the onboarding process, organizations have to think more broadly about how their team members now, and in the future will receive information about the processes.

In other words, the communications and training received has to be worked into operational and organizational design. A journey map can be a helpful tool when designing your organization's future state of customer experience.


These pitfalls are common, but by planning for these customer onboarding best practices, your organization can design an effective onboarding strategy that communicates, engages and builds loyalty for the customer.

Employee onboarding is a moment that matters in addition to customer onboarding.

Download the guide to learn:

  • The business case for a better onboarding experience

  • Essential information for new employees

  • Different phases of the on-boarding experience

  • A timeline for delivering key messages, and keeping employees engaged past the initial onboarding time.

Further Reading


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