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The One Person All New Employees Should Get to Know During Their First Week on the Job

Onboarding is critically important to setting new employees up for success.

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The first week of a new job can be an exciting, motivating, overwhelming and stressful time for a new employee. New commute. New office. New boss and coworkers. Training. Finding the restroom. Not to mention all the HR forms that need to be completed to ensure they get paid at the end of their first week.

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Related: 4 Secrets to Showing New Hires They Belong

During the first few days of onboarding there are a number of things the HR team will do to help the new employee make a smooth transition into their new role. They'll set up the workspace with equipment, office supplies and maybe even a cool welcome kit of company swag. They'll pre-book meet-and-greets and lunches with people whom the new hire will be working with on a regular basis. They'll pair them up with an office buddy who can show them the ropes and answer any questions.

But, of all the people a new employee you should get to know during the first week, no one is as important to the company's success as the customer. After all, the customer is the reason why the company is in business. Everything the organization does, no matter the task, will impact customer satisfaction. The faster you can accelerate a new employee's understanding of your target customer and the experience you want them to have, the faster he or she will be able to contribute to the company's long-term vision and success.

Regardless of the role, each new employee should acquire a basic understanding of the customers' needs and expectations during their first week on the job. Of course, a new employee in a customer-facing role will automatically get this type of training as part of their onboarding. However, people who work in finance, HR, technology, operations, legal and other internal functions may only meet the people in the organization who can help them do their jobs. They may be missing out on a golden opportunity to learn more about the customer.

Related: How to Breathe New Life into Your Formal Onboarding Process

In order to help a new employee succeed, here are a few steps you can take to make sure they get to know the customer early on:

Teach the product.

Understanding the value (products and services) the company provides to its customers is the first step to learning more about the company's vision and mission. Create a high-level primer for new employees, including information on current products. You should also include information on future offerings so they can fully understand how the company is innovating to meet the current and future needs of customers.

Provide the customer experience.

Your new employees should follow the same journey a customer takes when purchasing your product or service. What this will entail depends on the industry you're in, but new employees should participate in the in-store, in-person, phone and online experiences. If it's applicable, new employees should actually use the product in the way the customer would.

Related: 4 Ways to Ensure Employee Success From Day One

Engage with customer service.

Each new employee should spend time shadowing a customer service agent. This will show them the impact that every interaction has on overall customer satisfaction. It's important new employees learn how passionate the company is about solving customer problems and issues.

A strong onboarding process will set new employees up for success and have a long-term impact on their productivity and retention, helping the business as a result. Keep in mind, new employees will not learn everything about the company's history and values in their first week. Don't overwhelm them with a company history lesson and details about the founder's obsession with cashew nuts and why one of the conference rooms is named after a Bruce Springsteen song. Full immersion in the company's mission and culture will take time, but the faster you can help the new employee understand the needs and expectations of the customer, the faster you will help them understand the role they will play in helping the customer, which is what leads to the company's success.

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