Month: April 2024

So, sales just passed the torch, and now it‘s your turn to onboard a new customer. While it feels like the end of one journey, in reality, it’s more like setting sail on a new voyage.

As you gear up with your meticulously crafted onboarding process, you can‘t help but think of seasoned sailors navigating unpredictable waters. They know that even the most detailed maps can’t always predict the challenges ahead.

From paperwork to technical hurdles, I‘ve come to realize that customer onboarding is far more than just ticking off boxes. It’s a nuanced dance of patience, empathy, and a touch of technical finesse.

In this article, I‘ll delve into the common challenges of customer onboarding, drawing from the insights of our experienced support specialists. Together, let’s navigate through these challenges and ensure a smooth journey for our new customers.

1. Lack of Information

Sometimes, customers might not provide all the necessary information during onboarding, making it challenging for service reps to understand their needs fully. Or it could be the other way around, as the employee may be missing out on the latest product or service information needed to properly onboard.

Josefina Ondo-Baca, one of HubSpot’s Senior Customer Support Specialists, shares her experience with trying to move forward with everchanging information, “Staying in the loop about changes to the product is one of the areas where I’m challenged the most. Having systems that facilitate collaboration and information sharing across teams (product developers, product marketers, technical writers, onboarding specialists) is imperative to avoid delays to successfully onboard a customer.”

2. Complex Products/Services

If the product or service being onboarded is complex, it can be difficult for service reps to explain its features and benefits clearly to customers.

To mitigate confusion, establish an ongoing feedback loop for your customers as they onboard. They’ll be able to specifically call out their pain points and give your team valuable information to fix or improve.

Pro Tip: Provide live demo videos of how to use your product to newly onboarded customers. Not only is it good for them to access as they become more familiar, but it can help demystify seemingly complex tools.

3. Technical Issues

Technical glitches or issues with software platforms used for onboarding can disrupt the process and frustrate both customers and service reps, even causing them to leave and search for an alternative. After all, according to Precursive, poor onboarding is the third highest reason for customer churn.

Ondo-Baca continues to say, “Technical issues surely present a roadblock because they are not always expected and can result in changes to the original onboarding plan. It also can reduce users’ confidence in the product offering. Being flexible and having knowledge on how to troubleshoot in these cases are valuable skills in such instances.”

4. Resistance to Change

Some customers may resist change, particularly if transitioning from a previous provider or system to a new one.

Senior Customer Support Specialist Mellissa Rhodes, shares her experience working through change. “With onboarding you’re always taking someone used to doing things a certain way and trying to teach them something new. With that comes preconceived notions about how something should be done or anxiety around changing as well as a lack of confidence in the new product. All hard things to overcome!”

5. Language and Communication Barriers

In a global marketplace, language and communication barriers can pose significant challenges during customer onboarding, especially when dealing with customers from diverse linguistic backgrounds.

“No team is the same when it comes to their communication. Some teams have physical offices while others work remotely. As new communication and enablement resources become available, it’s important to synchronize with the customer on which channel would be the most effective to conduct onboarding for all parties involved which might not always be a preferred channel for us.” Ondo-Baca goes onto say.

6. Time Constraints

Service reps often face time constraints during onboarding, especially if they have to adhere to strict schedules. This hurdle can cause customers to feel frustrated if they fail to see value in an adequate amount of time.

7. Training and Knowledge Gaps

Service reps need to be well-trained and knowledgeable about the products or services they are onboarding, but sometimes there may be gaps in their training or understanding.

Rhodes continues to say, “Everyone you work with will be coming from a different starting point and navigating that can be difficult. Onboarding a seasoned professional vs someone new are two different processes.”

8. Managing Expectations

Setting realistic expectations is crucial during onboarding, but it can be challenging to manage customer expectations, especially if they have unrealistic demands or assumptions.

Additionally, there’s generally more pressure on the customer onboarding team — from small to mid-size businesses, all the way up to enterprise businesses — that largely feel that customer onboarding is accountable for managing expectations.

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9. Documentation and Paperwork

Research shows that 86% of customers are more likely to remain loyal to a business when they have access to educational and welcoming onboarding content after making a purchase. However, if the process of distributing this content is convoluted or disorganized, it can leave a negative impression on customers.

Moreover, completing essential documentation and paperwork during the onboarding process can be a time-consuming and burdensome task for both service representatives and customers.

10. Follow-up and Support

Providing adequate follow-up and ongoing support after the initial onboarding phase is essential for customer success, but service reps may face challenges in maintaining consistent communication and assistance.

Pro Tip: Make sure your customers have clear communication channels after they’ve undergone onboarding. They should feel like they can reach out for help and have their needs met ongoingly. Open lines of communication can also result in positive feedback or testimonial collection.

Create a Customer-Centric Onboarding Process

While you may encounter onboarding challenges, effectively addressing them can set your business relationship up for success. Anticipating and proactively tackling these hurdles can drive customer satisfaction, loyalty, and success in the evolving onboarding landscape.

customer onboarding templates

So, you’ve built an amazing product and you just know your customers are going to love it. Except, there’s one problem: you’re receiving customer complaints.

You have two options: you can handle the complaints and move on with the other tasks on your plate, or you could take the time to resolve the issue and look into what caused it.

If you’ve chosen to invest the time to look into the issue and find out what caused the problem, you might consider implementing a customer success maturity model.

In this post, we’ll discuss what a customer success maturity model is and offer tips and suggestions from experts to create your own model. Let’s dive in.

What is the Customer Success Maturity Model?

A customer success maturity model is a framework designed to help companies examine their customer success strategies and operations and plan for ways to improve and scale them. This model breaks customer success maturity into four main stages:

  • Stage 1 — React: In this stage, customer success teams respond to customer complaints and issues as they arise. Typically, teams have little customer data to work with, and customer engagement is low.
  • Stage 2 Define: In the defining stage, companies structure and organize customer teams, define individual roles in the support process, set goals, and track performance data and benchmarks to help guide decisions. Understanding the customer and their needs is the goal.
  • Stage 3 Manage: With metrics in hand and goals set, customer success teams can be proactive in their efforts. Teams can take strategic measures to intervene and engage with customers. With customer feedback, teams can refine and improve their customer success strategies.
  • Stage 4 Optimize: At this stage, a seamless customer experience is the driving factor of all business operations, including sales and marketing.

It’s helpful to think of a customer success maturity model as a set of building blocks.

Léo Blanc, customer success manager of SubMagic, says, It’s like building LEGO sets, where you start with simple pieces and gradually learn to make more complex creations.”

According to Blanc, businesses start by learning basic ways to satisfy customers. From there, teams “use the customer success maturity model to learn more advanced ways to keep customers loyal and engaged with your tool, your team, and your brand,” Blanc says.

Customer success is paramount to your business’s success. Think about it: happy customers lead to a strong user base. So, providing proactive top-tier customer service to help your customers confidently use your products and services should be the baseline for any good organization.

As Josh Royal, founder and chief visionary officer at Aventus, puts it, incorporating a customer success maturity model is strategic.

Royal says, “The Customer Success Maturity Model acts as a strategic framework, guiding businesses through the evolution of their customer success efforts — from initial, ad-hoc stages to fully optimized and integrated processes.”

stages of customer success maturity model

Maturity Benchmarks to Watch

If you’re just starting to plan your customer success maturity model, you’re going to need to begin tracking key performance metrics. These performance benchmarks will help you and your team identify areas of improvement and will help you understand how you can become more proactive in your customer success efforts.

Here are a few benchmarks you should track.

Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is a giant indicator of how well your customers love (or, on the flip side, hate) your product or service.

Knowing how satisfied a customer is with your company is helpful because 91% of customers will not do business with the same company if they’ve had a previous bad experience with it. Ouch.

That’s why understanding customer satisfaction is important.

Royal says, “Measure how satisfied customers are with your product, policies, or service through surveys or feedback mechanisms.”

Reach out to your customers by email and ask them to participate in a customer satisfaction survey. You can also send your customers a survey link at the end of every interaction, for example, at the end of a chatbot conversation.

Collecting this data can provide your team with valuable insights on necessary improvements you should make to help your customers be more successful.

Churn Rate

Churn rate measures the number of customers who have unsubscribed or canceled your service during a given time period. For companies that operate on a subscription model, understanding how quickly customers ditch their product or service is vital to uncovering lapses in customer success.

Blanc says to ask yourself this, “How many customers leave your product after one month?” After implementing changes to your customer success strategies, measure again.

According to Blanc, “This is the main point that will help you determine whether your changes are beneficial to reduce this [churn] rate.”

Customer Retention Rate

Customer retention rates and churn rates often go hand in hand. While a churn rate measures the number of customers who leave your company, customer retention rates measure the number of customers who stay.

Royal says, “A high retention rate is indicative of strong customer loyalty and satisfaction.” It’s helpful to understand both your churn rate and customer retention rates. Comparing the two numbers will help you determine if you’re gaining more customers than losing them.

You want your customers to stay for obvious reasons. However, the cost of acquiring new customers is often much higher than the cost of retaining existing customers.

So, not only is customer retention smart from the customer loyalty perspective, but it also helps increase your bottom line, making your customer retention rate worth knowing.

Customer Lifetime Value

Customer lifetime value represents the total revenue a company can expect from a single customer over the entire relationship with that customer.

Royal says to “calculate the total value a customer brings to your business over their entire relationship with your company.” And because retaining a customer is more cost-effective than acquiring new ones, understanding a customer’s lifetime value can be a big motivator to implement and improve customer success strategies.

Support Ticket Response Time

Tracking the time it takes your customer service team members to respond to a support ticket is a helpful number to know — and an easy issue to improve with the right strategies in place.

The data shows that 46% of customers who contact a customer support team expect companies to respond in less than four hours. That sounds reasonable enough, right? However, a recent SuperOffice survey found that 62% of companies do not respond to customer emails.

Talk about frustrating! Blanc says, “The majority of tickets created by customers won’t be about how good your product is. These customers may face technical issues, and we know patience has limitations.”

It might sound simple, but responding to and helping customers when they have an issue is a great way to build loyalty. Set a timeframe and track how long your customer service team takes to respond to customer support tickets. Then, use this information to help plan your improvements.

Feedback Volume and Quality

When tracking support ticket response time, pay attention to the kinds of feedback your customer service teams receive and the quality of the feedback. Messages of praise let you know your company is doing something right. However, negative feedback indicates a customer success issue.

Blanc says to ask yourself this: “How many suggestions do you get from customers? And most importantly, which suggestions are the most asked?

Collecting and analyzing customer feedback can point to a breakdown in your customer service pipeline.

Net Promoter Score

Did you know that 90% of customers say they consider reviews before making a purchase?

It’s true. And, not only that, but 74% of customers find that reading reviews and ratings is the best way to learn about a product or service.

So, what your customers say about your business to others is vitally important to customer success. Terrible ratings and reviews will deter new customers from taking a chance with your company.

That’s why it’s helpful to know your company’s net promoter score. Royal says a net promoter score can “assess customer loyalty and likelihood to recommend your product or service to others, providing insights into overall satisfaction and advocacy.”

If your net promoter score is unsatisfactory, then you know you have areas of improvement to work on.

How Maturity Affects Performance

Understanding the frustrations of your customers and wherein the customer pipeline issues occur is necessary for your customer success team.

One of the most significant benefits of a customer success maturity model is that it creates alignment between your customer support team members.

Royal says it “establishes a unified direction for the entire team, ensuring everyone understands and works towards the same customer success goals.” With defined goals and responsibilities, your customer support team can work cohesively to support your customers.

Second, strategically working to improve specific benchmarks, such as ticket response time, helps increase customer retention.

According to Blanc, customer retention is the highest priority. Blanc says, “Retention is the new black, as with every business worldwide. Once you understand where your customer maturity is at and create actionable processes to improve it, the retention rate will increase.

A third benefit of a customer success maturity model is that it places the customer at the center of all operations. Royal says it “cultivates a customer-first approach throughout the organization, strengthening customer relationships and loyalty.

According to Blanc, customer loyalty is important because “the more mature your business is regarding customer success, the better the relationship with your customers. We often underestimate word-of-mouth, but it can be the most important acquisition channel.”

How to Use the Customer Success Maturity Model (+Expert Tips)

how to use customer success maturity model

Focusing on your customers’ success is critical to the success of your business. If you lack a customer-centered approach, here are five steps to create and implement your customer success maturity model.

1. Assess the current situation and identify areas of improvement.

Before you can establish and implement improvement strategies, you need to first understand where your customer service stands.

Shehla Yamani, an experienced customer success leader, suggests assessing the current situation is vital to creating a successful customer success maturity model.

Yamani says that “by discerning their current stage, teams gain insight into their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. This awareness enables them to tailor their strategies and actions accordingly, facilitating a smoother transition towards higher levels of maturity and effectiveness in delivering customer success.

Take the time to assess your current situation and brainstorm relevant metrics that will help you gain insights into your customer success performance. Think about tracking metrics like churn rate, retention rates, and ticket response times to name a few.

These metrics will provide valuable insights to your customer success team, identify areas of needed development, and provide a baseline for improvement.

2. Establish a customer support team.

Whether you’re a brand new company or you’ve been grinding away for a while, you need to establish a team of employees dedicated to taking care of the needs of your customers.

Having a dedicated team focused on ensuring the success of your customers is paramount to improving your churn rates, customer retention rate, ticket response times, and achieving your company’s goals.

Blanc thinks a dedicated team is the key to a company’s success. Blanc advises the following: “Don’t be afraid to invest time and money if you use a customer maturity model. At Submagic, 30% of our team is dedicated to customer care, and we always follow new trends and processes to be closer to our clients while growing and reaching our product goals.”

3. Create an action plan.

Once you’ve established a team of customer service professionals, it’s time to brainstorm a clear action plan to help you and your team reach your goals.

Using the baseline benchmarks that you’ve collected, define clear, achievable objectives that your team can work on to implement and improve. It’s important to remember that your objectives should be SMART goals — or specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

SMART goals can help your team stay on plan.

4. Measure and monitor success.

The results of your customer success maturity model likely won’t flourish overnight. Instead, you’ll need to measure and monitor your objectives to see any fluctuations in your benchmark metrics.

Royal understands the necessity of keeping a pulse on your customer success maturity model. He says, “Make it a habit to periodically check in and recalibrate where your company stands on the maturity model. Customer expectations, market trends, and your own team’s skill set are always in flux.”

And since expectations, market trends, and skills sets are constantly changing, it’s okay to make changes to your customer success goals, too. The important thing to remember is that a maturity model is meant to help you improve your customer success, and the best, most relevant improvements come from continuously monitoring customer data.

5. Promote a customer-focused culture.

It may take a while and a lot of trial and error, but as you learn what works and what doesn’t, encourage your employees to keep a customer-centric mindset. Ultimately, your customers and their experience should be at the forefront of every business decision you and your team make.

Your Customer’s Success is Your Success

No matter where you are in your business — whether you’re a new company or an established brand — you can take the necessary steps to implement a customer success maturity model to continue the success of your business.

Besides, the heart of every successful business is happy, successful customers. And by creating and implementing a customer success maturity model, you and your team can help turn your customers into loyal champions of your brand.

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I was disappointed when Zulily closed abruptly last year, but at least I only had discounted TOMS at stake, not my teeth.

Back in December, SmileDirectClub customers were shocked to learn that the company had gone out of business overnight. No one notified customers, many of whom were halfway through their dental alignment. There were no refunds and no continuation plan other than “Contact an orthodontist. Good luck!”

That’s a perfect example of how not to manage a business closure. Closing a business can be a personal and very difficult decision. It also isn’t unique — 20% of businesses close within the first year, and 50% within the first five years.

Amidst all the logistics and financial to-dos, how you treat customers during a closure will cement your reputation and legacy for years to come. Follow this guide to learn the best way to wind down your business while doing right by your customers.

Table of Contents

Closing your business? Good customer service still matters.

So, you’re closing your business. Why, then, should you care about customer service or customer success? Here are a few reasons you should shutter your business with customer care and professionalism.

1. Your business still exists in some form.

Sometimes, you may close just one location in a chain or one business concept under a parent company. In this case, you need to continue to serve customers well so you can retain them at one of your other locations or businesses.

In other cases, your retail business might be simply moving online. There’s a common trend I’ve noticed in the past few years. Remember Brookstone? They closed their 100 mall stores in 2018, but you can still buy your massage chairs and shiny-but-unnecessary gadgets online. How about Pier 1, Papyrus, Dressbarn, Payless, or Gymboree? It’s the same story.

Payless Shoes online store

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Even if your business closes, your brand, intellectual property, and customer list may have value you can monetize — as long as you don’t kill your brand value in the closure process. Take, for example, which purchased the Bed, Bath, and Beyond brand after it closed. If you’re selling your practice or moving entirely online, you want to hold on to your reputation.

2. Maintain loyalty for your next venture.

Many famous entrepreneurs — including Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson, Colonel Harland Sanders, and Milton Hershey — all had failed businesses before finding success. If you want to start another business down the road, don’t burn all your bridges now.

3. It’s the right thing to do.

Most business owners have a reason for being in business outside of simply the money. Chances are you’re proud of what you’ve built, and you’ve enjoyed serving your customers (at least, some of the time). If you own a local business, think of the impact that closing poorly would have on your community and neighbors.

Customer Service Dos and Don’ts: Tips for Going Out of Business the Right Way

To navigate this tricky transition, follow these dos and don’ts of going out of business well.

business closure tips

Do: Communicate with customers.

Whenever possible, send customers an email or letter notifying them of your decision. Share as much of the reasoning and story that you feel comfortable telling, but make sure that the message is succinct and clear. For instance, don’t send a vague email subject line like “Thank you for supporting us.” Send more than one message with urgent keywords like “Final reminder” or “Last day in business.”

Don’t: Tell customers too early.

If customers still owe you money, you want to make sure you can collect as many of your outstanding invoices as possible before announcing you’re shutting down. And, of course, don’t let your employees find out at the same time as everyone else. Tell your team first.

Green Bean Delivery business closure

In the example above, local grocery delivery company Green Bean Delivery shared their announcement with customers a week before closing. This gave customers just enough time to receive their final deliveries, contact customer service if needed, and shop the closeout sale. Notice how they reinforced their mission and thanked customers for their longtime loyalty.

Do: Anticipate customers’ FAQs.

Before sending an announcement, try to anticipate as many customer questions as possible. This way, you can avoid answering a flood of queries, answering the same questions over and over again. Share as many practical details as you can, including:

  • Your final date in business.
  • Any changes to your hours or operations in the meantime.
  • Whether pending orders will be fulfilled or refunded.
  • Whether you’ll honor returns, gift cards, and vouchers.
  • How customers can export their files or records, if applicable.
  • If you have another location, how to transfer over.
  • Inventory sales for discounted shopping.
  • Any continuity details, such as a new owner or referrals to competitors.
  • How to contact customer service or check order status.

Don’t: Overpromise or overexplain.

While you want to give sufficient detail and value, don’t overpromise. If you don’t have the cash flow to honor returns or gift cards, don’t say that you will. You don’t need to overexplain. Simply state your policy.

It’s also ok to admit any details you don’t yet know. Take, for instance, this business closure email from online whiteboarding platform InVision. The CEO’s letter hits all the right notes, including a clear timeline and how to export your documents.

The email explains that one of its tools, Freehand, has been acquired and will be continued in some form by the new owner. However, they’re careful not to give too much detail since the data migration plans are still in development.

InVision Business Closure Email to Customers

Do: Offer promotions to convert and retain customers.

If you have remaining locations or are moving your business online, incentivize customers to keep shopping with you.

Gabrielle Marie Yap, Culinary Entrepreneur and Senior Editor at CarnivoreStyle, shared how she handled closing a restaurant location a few years ago.

“We reached out via email, social media, and even put up notices at the closing site, thanking them for their patronage and explaining the reasons behind the closure,” she recalls.

Yap said her company wanted to incentivize customers to visit their other locations.

“We offered special deals and discounts exclusive to those affected by the closure. Whether it was a free appetizer or a percentage off their bill, these little perks made customers feel appreciated and encouraged them to give our other spots a try,” Yap says.

Ultimately, the feedback and insights they learned through the experience helped them strengthen their existing locations.

Don’t: Let morale slide.

It’s understandably difficult to keep your staff positive when they’re losing their jobs. But, business closures are often made worse by employees badmouthing the owner or posting insider stories on social media.

You can avoid many issues by paying your employees all wages that are due and severance if possible. Then, lead by example to serve customers with professionalism until you switch the lights off.

“I’ve found that keeping staff motivated with a customer service focus helps retain employees needed to wind down smoothly,” shares Will Yang, head of growth and marketing at Instrumentl. “It’s about finishing strong.”

Yang notes that when he closed his retail store, his team celebrated customer and community until the last day. “Though bittersweet, we all left proud. The care we showed customers remained our legacy,” Yang says.

Do: Hold your head up high.

Closing a business holds a lot of emotion — you might be disappointed, crushed, or even relieved. No matter your emotional state, walk away knowing that you did what few people are willing to do: take a risk to build something. No business closure is truly a failure when you delivered value to customers and learned something from it.

Saying Goodbye to Your Customers

Closing your business is one final chance to thank customers for going along for the ride of a lifetime with you.

I know that I carry a fondness in my heart for many restaurants, stores, and bookstores that are no longer in business. Depending on your industry, customers may have marked important milestones with your business, like a first date with their spouse or buying a wedding dress.

Throwing a final inventory sale or open house can give customers a chance to say goodbye, take photos, and share their good memories.

When you communicate clearly and transparently, anticipate customer FAQs, and treat customers and employees with respect in these final days, you’ll earn respect and loyalty for whatever chapter comes next.

crisis communication

“Teamwork makes the dream work.” Although John C. Maxwell first said these words in 2002, the quote remains relevant in workplaces today.

Team collaboration is an essential building block for successful businesses. When employees collaborate, organizations can expect to see increased levels of trust, a more engaged workforce, and improved performance.

One study has shown that collaborative teams are 5x higher performing because they feel motivated towards a common goal.

Download Now: Complete Guide to Collaborating at Work [Free Guide + Templates]

However, running a collaborative team environment can be challenging. It takes a concerted effort to integrate cooperative values throughout your whole company’s ethos.

Here, we’ll explore some strategies to give you a head-start toward managing your support team for collaboration. Plus, hear from ClickUp’s CEO, Zeb Evans, on what teams get wrong regarding collaboration.

Jump ahead:

1. Share the company’s mission over and over again.

Everyone needs a reason to show up daily — a cause to be part of and a broader objective to work towards.

Defining your company’s mission is the first step toward bringing people together under one common goal and working together to make it happen.

Your mission should be simple but meaningful. The more compelling, the better.

It’s your job to give your employees a reason — beyond the paycheck — to show up each day and become passionate about their work. The more passionate they are, the more likely they are to work together with their teammates to achieve the company’s mission.

Ensure you bring it up often to ensure everyone is clear on the mission — to the point where everyone on your team can repeat it independently. That way, when confronted with conflict or challenges, they can keep the mission in mind to stay focused.

2. Communicate your expectations for collaboration.

Similarly, if your team doesn’t know that you want them to work together, you can’t expect them to do so.

From the start, set your expectations for collaboration as a minimum standard. Even better, it should be part of your onboarding process so potential recruits know you prioritize teamwork.

Employees’ job descriptions should include details about individuals’ roles independently and as part of a team.

By differentiating these, you’re setting clear boundaries between what they should take personal responsibility for and what they need to work on collectively.

3. Highlight individuals’ strengths.

A Nectar survey reveals that 83.6% of employees admit that receiving recognition impacts their motivation to succeed at work. And 3 in 4 employees say they’d be more productive if they received frequent recognition for their work.

It goes without saying that it’s crucial to recognize each employee’s value to their team and the company.

Not everyone is a leader. Not everyone is a confident public speaker. But a successful team thrives when each member can bring their own set of skills to the table.

As part of your recruiting process, you’ll have already identified your employees’ specific strengths. Make sure you build on these strengths and emphasize them in collaborative environments.

When I was growing my content team, I needed to focus on the specific strengths of each person I was hiring and how those fit not only the duties of their distinct role but the collaborative efforts of the content team as a whole.

You can build on this by getting everyone to take a personality or skills test and share the results in a group setting.

4. Promote a community working environment.

A sense of community is crucial for collaborative working environments.

People will likely apply themselves more when they feel that their opinions matter. Conversely, when people know their opinion doesn’t count, they feel redundant, and team-playing disintegrates.

But getting the conditions right can be tricky. You want to avoid inundating your team with endless meetings and insist on collaboration for collaboration’s sake. After all, not all tasks need to be worked on as a team.

A daily morning huddle is a good starting point. At the same time each day, invite your team to get together and discuss their goals, tasks for the day, and opportunities where teamwork would be beneficial. These environments can help teams to align themselves and avoid duplication or oversight.

Another way to promote a collaborative work environment is by fostering honest and open communication. The more people feel they can contribute, the more ideas can be shared, and the more productive the team will become.

However, this part of the process might take some work for the more introverted team members.

If you create a psychologically safe working environment where team members feel safe from judgment, they are more likely to speak openly and contribute their ideas freely. The safer the environment for communication, the more collaborative that space will become.

5. Encourage creativity.

A collaborative team is an innovative one. Likewise, creating the space for creativity will help foster collaboration. It’s a virtuous circle.

Brainstorming sessions can be a great way to open up your team to creative thinking. An environment where they can propose and challenge ideas will help employees feel like they have a stake in the company’s mission.

I often find brainstorming sessions daunting for some team members, especially if they’re sprung on them without warning. To work around this, I give my team a heads-up the day before to allow everyone to prepare their thoughts in advance.

6. Share knowledge, insights, and resources.

Knowledge, as they say, is power. And if knowledge is shared amongst your team, they will feel more empowered to contribute on an even playing field.

File-sharing and internal collaboration software can help your team access the resources they need to do their jobs.

But go further. Create physical and virtual spaces where your team can share their insights, discuss their failures, and give each other constructive feedback.

7. Lead by example.

You can strategize for collaboration as much as you like, but if you don’t exhibit collaborative behaviors yourself, this will filter down to your employees.

As a collaborative team leader, you must demonstrate cooperation at every turn.

One-on-ones are a great place to start. Focusing some one-on-one time at regular intervals with each of your team members demonstrates that you are ready for dialogue.

The way you deal with requests and the way you make promises also indicates how you really feel about collaboration. When your employee comes to you asking for support, then honor their request. And only make promises that you know you can keep.

The more your team can trust you to have their back, the more that trust will filter down through your team. And, in turn, the more productive they will become.

8. Get out of the office.

I’m not just talking about corporate event after corporate event, but offsite team-building works.

Getting out of the office regularly helps teams build relationships based on mutual interests rather than what they share in common within working hours. It helps employees see each other as humans rather than just colleagues.

But this doesn’t need to wait for offsite events. An impromptu morning coffee or an afternoon beer can help solidify relationships and get your team gelling. Some smaller companies adopt a more regular arrangement where team members “buddy up” and go for lunch one-on-one, rotating amongst the team.

9. Celebrate and reward successful teamwork.

How you measure your team’s success will signal what kind of company you are. If you reward effective teamwork and successful collaboration, you communicate the values underpinning your business.

When you design your employee appraisal metrics, focus on team collaboration and individual successes. Make it clear that your employees’ team efforts will be noted and collaborative achievements rewarded.

10. Invest in collaboration tools.

Creating a digital workplace is the most practical thing you can do to ensure long-term collaboration in your team. And uptake is increasingly high, with many businesses using social collaboration tools to advance business processes.

Given the rise in remote and hybrid work, it’s worth investing in the right tools to enable teams to work together without being in the same physical space.

Your digital workspace can look however you need it to. You don’t have to go all-out immediately, and your spending can be modest initially. The trick is to try different tools and see what works best for your team.

What Your Team Gets Wrong, According to ClickUp’s CEO

Collaboration can seem relatively straightforward, but effective and scalable collaboration is a different story.

Let’s dive into some of the biggest roadblocks to successful collaboration, according to Zeb Evans, ClickUp’s founder and CEO.

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1. Your team hosts too many meetings without a clear goal.

Hosting meetings with your team can be a strong opportunity for collaboration — but too many meetings might get in the way of productivity.

As Evans told me, “One of the biggest problems I see is there are too many meetings today, and they can be a very inefficient use of time. Oftentimes, there are too many people who don’t need to be in certain meetings, and there aren’t enough clear goals around the meeting.”

To combat this, consider where you can cut down on unnecessary meetings or limit meeting attendees.

For instance, say your team hosts a weekly standup where they each discuss what they’re working on in a given week. To create more purpose behind the meeting, you might suggest each colleague instead bring one challenge they’re currently facing in their roles so your team can help support and provide fresh solutions.

Alternatively, examine the weekly and monthly recurring meetings on your agenda and ask yourself:

  • Which ones could become asynchronous?
  • Which ones might only need to take place once per quarter?
  • Which ones could we consolidate or get rid of?

2. Your team doesn’t leverage software to create stronger alignment.

Evans continues, “There’s too much work about work in general. Too much planning of work, managing of work, communicating about work … Rather than just focusing on the work itself. And that’s when it becomes inefficient.”

To combat this roadblock, Evans suggests teams move to a single-platform approach.

As he puts it, “In five to ten years, we’ll have more of a connected work ecosystem where all work is either in a single platform, or a single connected platform … not necessarily replacing everything, but at least connecting with everything so you remove inefficiencies, you have transparency, and you have a level of alignment that currently doesn’t exist.”

He adds, “In the next couple of years, we’ll also see the execution of work align much more closely to the communication around the work.”

Leveraging an all-on-one platform is critical for reducing the inefficiency that comes with too many disparate solutions. Without getting your entire organization on one platform, you risk losing the context you need to scale projects effectively.

As Evans told me, “With multiple channels, multiple DMs, and multiple platforms, context can get lost … but if all of the context is in the same place, then you don’t have to repeat yourself, you don’t have to continuously ask where things are, and you don’t have to ask for status updates or have meetings for alignment; all context is already in the same place.”

3. Your organization lacks transparency.

Collaboration is difficult when you’re not aware of what other teams are working on, and you work in silos across the department.

Having clear transparency into leadership’s goals and how each team’s strategy contributes to that overarching goal will help you successfully identify strong areas for collaboration that will help both teams reach that unifying goal.

Evans says, “To have effective collaboration, there needs to be ultimate transparency. Communication needs to happen in the same place, and you need general alignment so people know what other people are working on.”

“Of course,” he adds, “There are many ways to solve this through software.”

Powerful software is the easiest way to introduce transparency across the company. If all your teams operate on one platform, each employee can easily see other projects happening across the org.

For instance, perhaps you’re a blogger and see the social media team working on a leadership series next month. To get involved, you message the team and ask if you can create a leadership post for the blog that will be featured on the Instagram channel as part of the campaign.

Ultimately, removing these roadblocks will help clear the way for true, valuable, and effective collaboration within your team and across the organization.

Speaking of tools, let’s dive into a few team collaboration tools in the section below.

1. Loom

Team Collaboration Tool: Video Communication

Loom is a video communication software that records actions performed on your computer. You can explain its steps out loud, and Loom will use your computer’s microphone and camera to capture the entire technical process.

So, if you’re describing a complicated task to your customer service team, you don’t have to meet in person to demonstrate the process. You can easily edit and upload the videos so your team can quickly share them after recording.

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This is also particularly useful when onboarding new employees. You can record training, and then save it to your knowledge base for later use. That way, you don’t have to set up a formal meeting for company-wide training.

Price: Free

2. Google Drive

Team Collaboration Tool: Shared Documents

If you haven’t tried Google Drive, it’s one of the best options for creating, collaborating, and sharing documents.

You can create Word docs, PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets, forms, and many other types of team-based resources. The best part? Google Drive has ample storage, so you can create as many documents as you’d like — or pay for extra storage.

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Google Drive is great for teams who want to work together on projects. Every document can be shared via email, or you can create a link that takes coworkers directly to your project.

If you don’t want certain users to make changes without approval, you can also control permissions over who can edit the document. Additionally, coworkers can leave comments and suggestions rendered automatically on the piece once they’re accepted.

Price: Free

3. ClickUp

ClickUp is an all-in-one collaborative hub that enables you to work across teams and streamline your operations. Built-in apps, like Whiteboards, Docs, Dashboards, task management, and more, allow you to leverage one centralized location to communicate cross-functionally.

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Regarding Customer Service, ClickUp enables teams to add multiple assignees to support tickets, set specific custom fields based on clients or ticket type, and flag and link everyday tasks so you can streamline and scale your service processes.

Best of all, ensuring your support team works from one centralized location helps your team provide a stronger, more compelling customer experience.

Price: Free for personal use, or $19/month for Business Plus.

4. Asana

Team Collaboration Tool: Project Management

Asana is a project management platform that can help your team effectively manage projects.

Its features can assist engineering teams when planning sprints, advise marketing when composing their editorial calendar, and track deals that are nearing close for your sales agents. Needless to say, it has something for everyone at your business.

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One cool feature that makes Asana stand out is its “Workload” monitor. This tool analyzes how much work each employee is handling and lets you know who’s working on what and whether their workload will take longer than their scheduled work hours. These alerts prevent employees from burning out and keep them happier over time.

Price: Free

5. Dropbox

Team Collaboration Tool: File-Sharing

Dropbox is a file storage and sharing software for distributing and tracking documents.

You can compose a document on your computer, upload it to Dropbox, and your entire team will have access to that file — saving you a lot of time from emailing PDFs and PowerPoints to everyone individually.

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Once those documents are shared, you can track who opens and views them on your team. You’ll know who’s engaging with your content and who may need to catch up on updates. This keeps employees accountable and ensures everyone is up-to-date on current information.

Price: $15/month

6. Slack

Team Collaboration Tool: Internal Communication

Slack is a popular team collaboration tool, and for good reason. Informally dubbed “The instant messenger for businesses,” it lets you chat with anyone at your company.

Employees can set up team channels where they can continuously chat with each other and ask questions in a casual, collaborative environment. Instead of calling meetings or scrambling across the office, teams from every department can work together right from their desks.

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One great feature of Slack is that it’s very customizable. You can integrate new tools and adjust the interface to behave precisely how you want it. For example, you can create a personalized onboarding message that launches whenever a new user is added. This message can contain information and tips on using the app so your new employees ramp up as quickly as possible.

Price: $7/month

7. Flock

Team Collaboration Tool: Internal Communication

Like Slack, Flock is another powerful communication tool many businesses use to chat internally. However, where Flock differentiates itself is through its additional features. It has various specialized tools that take its platform to the next level.

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One example is its video conferencing feature. If you’re chatting with someone, you can seamlessly transfer the conversation to a video call. That way, remote employees can interact with people at your office face-to-face.

Price: Free

8. Samepage

Team Collaboration Tool: Intranet

An intranet is a private communication network businesses use to communicate internally. It hosts every tool that employees need to collaborate during their workflow. This keeps the company’s information organized since all its communication passes through a centralized interface.

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Samepage is an example of an intranet provider that businesses use for communication. It combines chat, video conferencing, screen-sharing, task management, and file-sharing into one platform. It’s an excellent option for larger teams that want to save time jumping between software.

Price: Free

9. Google Calendar

Team Collaboration Tool: Calendar-Sharing

Productivity slows down if you’re not sure when people are available to meet — especially if you’re trying to organize teams across departments where schedules don’t always align.

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Google Calendar solves this issue by providing a shared-calendar experience for your employees. They can log when they’re busy and free, then make their schedules accessible to their coworkers. You’ll know exactly when to hold a meeting because you’ll see whether team members are available or not.

Price: Free

10. Outlook

Team Collaboration Tool: Calendar-Sharing

A rival to Google Calendar is Outlook, which competes with Google when it comes to its shared calendar features. Outlook’s calendar syncs to your email, so any events you accept in your inbox will automatically appear on your schedule.

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You can also view your schedule side-by-side with a coworker, which can help you decide whether or not to accept a pending invitation.

Price: $7/month

11. Zoom

Team Collaboration Tool: Video Conferencing

If you want to speak with remote employees in real time, Zoom can help with your video conferencing needs.

With Zoom, employees from all over the world can speak with each other in a face-to-face setting. You can launch meetings instantly or schedule them ahead of time via your digital calendar.

Zoom also has screen-sharing features. If you’re in a meeting and a remote employee wants to present, they can share their screen so that everyone sees their presentation.

This benefits management as they can record these sessions for employees who may be sick or couldn’t make the meeting. Between the recording and visual aid, these employees won’t miss a beat.

Price: Free

Collaborating Better

Collaborative teams are more productive, and companies that know this invest time and resources in creating environments conducive to teamwork.

These environments are creative, open, and trusting. They are inclusive and praise individual contributions towards common goals. They value knowledge-sharing and information transparency. And they invest in the tools and technology that make collaboration happen.

Whether you’re a large corporation or a small startup, whatever your industry, product, or service, you can move towards a collaborative setting today and start seeing results from a happier, more valued — and valuable — workforce.

To learn more, read our tips for improving team communication next.

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Having worked with many different types of businesses throughout my career, I know how tricky customer acquisition can be.

You must always be marketing, listening to customers, and iterating your approach to understand what attracts new customers to your product, what motivates them to make a purchase, and how you can convert them into a returning customer.

A few ways I’ve seen companies boost customer acquisition are through the following strategies:

  • Referral program.
  • Loyalty program.
  • Brand partnerships.
  • Social media.
  • Email marketing.
  • Paid advertising.

To really understand how these strategies work in action, let’s break down a few customer acquisition examples from companies you likely know and love.

To understand the power of good customer acquisition strategies, I dug into the strategies behind six companies that are doing it well.

Here are a few customer acquisition examples that you can learn from and apply to your own strategy.

1. Sephora

Sephora’s Beauty Insider program is a prime example of how to improve customer acquisition. Beauty Insider is a loyalty program that incentivizes customers to shop and be part of the community by rewarding them with discounts, gifts, experiences, and early access to products.

If you’re wondering how well the loyalty program contributes to actual sales, McKinsey previously reported that Sephora’s loyalty program members drive 80% of the company’s sales.

Here’s how it works: You get one point for every dollar spent which means everything you buy goes towards rewards. Rewards include a free birthday gift, access to the Rewards Bazaar, exclusive app experiences, and point-multiplier events.

There are three tiers of the loyalty program:

  • Insider. Free to join.
  • VIB, or Very Important Beauty. You reach this level when you spend at least $350 per year.
  • Rouge. You reach this level when you spend at least $1,000 per year.

Screenshot of Sephora’s customer acquisition loyalty program

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As of 2023, the loyalty program has 34 million members, as reported by Glossy. This is a 30% increase from 2020.

So, how exactly does Sephora increase customer acquisition through its loyalty program?

The company has made consistent updates to its program since 2018, focusing on several customer acquisition strategies. Some of these strategies include creating an omnichannel experience by incorporating its app to in-store shopping, creating a community for Beauty Insiders to engage with one another, prioritizing its mobile app, gamifying the loyalty program, and listening to its customers.

In 2020, the beauty company incentivized the program even more by allowing customers to exchange loyalty points for money. Insiders can now redeem $10 off a purchase for 500 points, or they can donate the $10 to select charities.

As the company continues to listen to its customers and reward them for shopping, Sephora’s customer acquisition will continue to soar.

2. HelloFresh

HelloFresh is one of the most popular meal kit services, with 6.64 million active customers worldwide.

Personally, I’m an on-again, off-again customer. I have used the meal kit service during busy weeks when I don’t have time to grocery shop or meal plan, or even when I need some cooking inspiration. But I’ll usually pause my subscription after a few weeks of meals.

I won’t even think about the service for months — until I receive an enticing discount promising free meals if I come back, like this email offer I received below.

Screenshot of HelloFresh’s customer acquisition coupon

This is one of HelloFresh’s customer acquisition strategies. These offers for free or heavily discounted meals aren’t only sent to former customers like me. HelloFresh also uses them to entice new customers to sign up for a subscription.

Screenshot of HelloFresh’s customer acquisition coupon

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Similar to a free trial, this type of customer acquisition strategy incentivizes new customers to try the service at a much lower cost than fully committing. However, the real secret to this customer acquisition method is in getting customers immersed in the experience.

I know that the first time I tried HelloFresh, I was initially drawn in by the steep discount. But once I started browsing the variety of options they offered, choosing my meals, and seeing how easy it was to cook, I was hooked. I continued the service at full price until eventually my budget needed to be tightened.

A discounted offer is a smart way to get customers in the door, and a good experience will have them settling in for good. I’m a perfect example of this.

When it comes to marketing, emails and direct mail are just some of the channels HelloFresh uses to reach customers. HelloFresh distributes offers like these across nearly every channel, from TV commercials to online ads to influencer posts. They’re one of the brand ads you’ve most likely heard mentioned on your favorite podcast over the years.

Once they acquire customers, HelloFresh prioritizes lowering customer acquisition cost (CAC), according to their own engineering blog. A strategy that has proven to work for the company is using machine learning models to predict customer lifetime value. This has enabled HelloFresh to optimize marketing efficiency and ultimately lower CAC.

3. Warby Parker

Founded in 2010, Warby Parker is a leading eyewear retailer with both an online and in-person retail presence that has amassed millions of customers.

By the end of 2023, Warby Parker increased its customer base by 2.5%, reaching 2.33 million active customers.

But the company didn’t scale to success overnight. To grow its customer base, Warby Parker used a mix of customer growth initiatives like try-before-you-buy, personalized shopping experiences through its style quiz, exemplary customer service via chat, social media, email, and even a charitable program that donates a pair of eyeglasses for every purchase.

Screenshot of Warby Parker’s customer acquisition offer

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Warby Parker’s Home Try-On program is especially popular. Customers get to choose five frames they want to try on and the retailer will send them to you for free. If you’re unsure what style of frames you want, you can take a style quiz to help you decide which options you want in your box. After trying on your frames, you simply send them back; Warby Parker even includes a preprinted return label.

Customers praise the program for being easy, convenient, and giving them confidence to purchase. And I totally agree!

Warby Parker’s Try-On program is an excellent customer acquisition example. By letting their customers experience the product before buying it, it’s easier for them to make the purchase, and makes it less likely that they’ll return it.

4. Lululemon

Between 2022 and 2023, Lululemon’s net revenue increased 19% to $9.6 billion. And they plan to increase that number even more over the next five years.

According to the company’s five-year growth plan, Lululemon aims to increase its revenue to $12.5 billion by 2026. And one of the ways it plans on getting there is by investing in its customers, specifically when it comes to guest experience and community.

The Lululemon community is powerful. With multiple membership programs in place, including an Ambassador program, the Sweat Collective, and the Lululemon Collective, the retailer has formed a trove of loyal customers ready to promote the brand and help them acquire new customers.

Screenshot of Lululemon’s customer acquisition community program

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In addition to ambassador and loyalty programs, Lululemon invests in community events that bring awareness not only to the brand’s products, but also shine a light on different physical activities or athletes.

For example, the brand recently hosted Lululemon Further, a six-day running event where ten women ran over 2,880 collective miles and broke both personal and world records.

To support the runners, Lululemon created bespoke running gear for each woman. On its website, Lululemon mentions that it plans to create a version of some of the items to sell.

While the campaign was created to support female athletes and promote the brand’s mission, it was also a smart way to generate interest in its clothing and acquire new customers along the way, as demonstrated by the outlined comment below.

Screenshot of Lululemon’s Instagram post

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5. Rakuten

Referral programs are another common customer acquisition method. A referral program is a type of marketing method that encourages customers to promote a brand or product in exchange for a reward. Referral programs typically require customers to share unique referral links or codes that can be tracked so the brand knows when a customer was acquired or a purchase was made through that referral.

One of my favorite examples of this is from Rakuten.

Rakuten offers $30 if you send a referral link to someone and that person joins and spends at least $30 within 90 days of joining. The person who signs up will receive a reward, too.

Screenshot of Rakuten’s customer acquisition reward program

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Not only is this incentive for current customers to promote the company, but the offer incentivizes new customers to sign up for a bonus, too. Plus, you can send unlimited referrals which means unlimited bonuses.

And clearly, this method works: Rakuten has nearly 141 million active users as of 2023, and saw a 4% increase from the previous year.

I know that for me personally, getting free cash back is a major incentive for shopping. And doing something as simple as sending my referral link to my friends is just as easy.

That’s the beauty of a referral program — it doesn’t require much effort on the referrer’s part. As long as the reward is worthwhile, your loyal customers will help you acquire new customers in no time.

6. Poppi

Founded in 2015, I’ve noticed that the beverage brand Poppi has seen incredible growth in the last couple of years.

I’m already a fan and loyal customer myself, but I’m still impressed when I see the brightly colored cans in the hands of influencers and celebs all over social media.

Screenshot of Poppi’s Instagram page with social media influencers promoting product

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Given the increased exposure I’ve seen on social media, along with seeing the beverages more frequently when grocery shopping, I can only imagine its customer acquisition has soared recently.

Confirmation: Forbes reported that in 2023, Poppi saw triple-digit month-over-month growth thanks to its loyal customer base.

And I’m not imagining seeing them all over social media recently, either. Forbes also shared that the brand generated 204 million impressions and 2.3 million engagements thanks to organic posts and influencer marketing.

Poppi has employed a grassroots strategy of influencer marketing and organic user-generated content to increase its customer acquisition. And I can see why: UGC campaigns result in 29% higher conversion rates than campaigns without it. Plus, 79% of consumers say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions.

Leveraging organic social media and putting your product into the hands of influencers is a smart way to increase customer acquisition because it communicates authenticity.

Customers trust other customers. I know that when I see something being positively recommended by a friend or an influencer I follow, I’m more likely to want to purchase it than if I just saw a post from the brand itself.

Choose the Customer Acquisition Strategy That Works Best for You

In my experience, and as we’ve seen through these six examples, there are many ways to go about customer acquisition.

You can lean on your current customers to help you acquire new customers through referral programs or by posting on social media.

Or, you can incentivize first-time purchases or subscriptions by offering rewards and discounts to new customers.

You can also turn to the many distribution channels out there to reach new customers. Some worthwhile channels include email, social media, and paid ads.

But the best customer acquisition strategy is the one that works for you. Don’t hesitate to experiment with a few methods. One way to figure out how best to acquire your target customer is by asking your current customers what converted them.

Anytime I get a message from a business post-purchase that asks, “How did you hear about us?” I’m eager to give my feedback. Your customers probably feel the same way, so leverage their insights to help you reach more customers.

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