Customers expect a good experience when they pay for a product or service. This makes customer onboarding the most important stage of the customer lifecycle. When you get new users started with your product on the right foot, it sets the tone for the relationship they will have with your company.
An effective user onboarding process will position your customers for long-term success where they can clearly identify the value of your product. As they gain more familiarity with your product, your business benefits from the reduced churn and better product adoption. But done poorly, your customers are left to question why they signed up in the first place.
You have already made a stellar product that your customers love. Now, it is a matter of guiding them towards success – from the first touchpoint through the post-purchase stage.
What is customer onboarding?
In simple terms, customer onboarding is a process of helping your customers get acquainted with your product or service. It is about bringing them up to the speed with how everything works and how they can reap maximum value out of it.
An onboarding strategy is aimed at transitioning your customers from beginners to habitual users of your product. Which is why it is not just about teaching them how to use your product or service. User onboarding strategies put your customers’ goal at the heart of the process.
With a positive onboarding experience, your customers will know that they have made the right choice. It is one of the most effective ways to reduce churn such as:
- Your customers do not understand your product or service.
- They don’t reap any value from it.
Why is customer onboarding so crucial?
The point of user onboarding is to help new users gain familiarity with all the features of your product. If your customers do not experience value from your product quickly and achieve seamless adoption, your chances of retaining them rapidly decreases.
Delivering a positive onboarding experience becomes a vital weapon, especially in SaaS businesses which see up to 10% loss in revenue to churn every year.
When your customers understand the core value of your application from as early as possible, it has a trickle down effect on a number of areas, starting from retention, virality, LTV, and payback period.
Deploying an effective user onboarding strategy ensures that you don’t wait for your customers to turn to you. You can make sure that customers gain the most value from your offerings without jumping through multiple hoops. Consequently, your customers have the right advice and instructions on how to succeed with your product or service.
In the competitive market landscape where new products or features are released quickly to satisfy customer needs, your user onboarding process can ensure that your customers are habituated with what you have to offer. As you roll out new features to add more value, your customers are more likely to stick with you for the ease-of-use that you provide.
The customer onboarding checklist
Your customer onboarding experience starts with thoughtful planning with a clear objective of empowering your customers. To make this happen, your process requires a few upgrades to guide your customers from the sign-up phase to their first win.
#1. Customer welcome series
Once a new customer signs up, your welcome email is your first correspondence with them and it needs to be a positive one. Congratulate them on their new purchase and thank them for choosing you over others. Your welcome email series is also an opportunity for you to guide them through specific features.
#2. Product set-up
From guided tutorials to setting up a wizard, you can help your new user get acquainted with the set-up process, step by step. Your aim is to make it as easy as possible for your customer. Your actionable videos and content can enable them to understand how they can accomplish a task using a specific feature of your product.
#3. Walkthroughs and call-outs
Tip banners can effectively guide new users around the product and its various features. These are also effective in focusing your customer’s attention to important details that they should know about. Similarly, interactive walkthroughs are an excellent way of helping your customers learn more about the product as they get down to using it. Such walkthroughs will show your users how to accomplish the next task as they complete the task at hand.
#4. Knowledge repository
According to a survey conducted by Coleman Parkes, a staggering 91% of the 3000 respondents preferred using an online knowledge base if it were customized to their needs. With a knowledge domain, your customers have easy access to useful resources as they begin interacting with your product. Having a self-serving knowledge repository is an effective way to provide a good customer experience.
#5. Evaluate your success
User onboarding metrics give you a glimpse of the efficacy of your process. Once you gather customer feedback, identify friction points and track key metrics, you are better positioned to enhance your onboarding experience and fill in gaps where necessary.
Improving your customer onboarding process: 5 “easy to implement” best practices
Bear in mind that, each of your customers has only one impression of you, although you may have multiple touchpoints with various prospects. So, the more holistic experience you can provide, the better.
With that being said, let’s look at some of the best customer onboarding and retention strategies.
#1. The sign-up process
The average conversion rate for the sign-up process stands at 36.2% as per a survey of 79 SaaS companies. A higher than average drop-off rate means that you are asking for too much information too soon. Ask what is needed to create a great first experience and wait until further to obtain more information. An easy way to decrease drop off rate is to:
- Keep your sign-up process short and quick
- Split it into multiple pages if you still require more information
- Make it frictionless by letting them sign up with a service they already have
#2. Make way for quick wins
The more value you provide your users, the higher the chances of them staying loyal to your product. Another effective user onboarding strategy is to provide your new customers with quick wins.
Quick wins, or the ‘Aha moment’, is when the value of your product becomes clear to your user. It is vital to determine what your customer considers a win. To achieve this, you can look at your data and target where your churn drops off. This is where your customers are finding their wins. Such quick wins lead to quicker product adoption and retention as it helps your customer perceive your product in a positive light.
#3. Rethink the onboarding flow
Your onboarding process requires more than just your customers learning how to use your product. What you are offering is now a part of your customer’s technology stack and they might not require the use of all the features at once. An effective way to deal with this is to ask for a small amount of information during sign-up to set your customers on a semi-custom path.
Another vital step is to automate as much as possible so that improving data from one tool to another is not a challenge.
#4. Keeping an open line of communication
A successful user onboarding strategy involves the evaluation of qualitative and quantitative data to further improve the process. Develop continuous feedback that you receive through surveys and by directly talking to your customers.
#5. Provide on-the-go training
The first 30 days of customer onboarding is the most crucial period in keeping your customer beyond the first month. This makes it absolutely vital that your customers receive ongoing training so they are equipped with a higher level of knowledge about your product. This also leads to better retention since your user is not just impressed with what you have to offer but also with the learning support they receive.
Customer success done right
Customer onboarding is a continuous journey that requires constant attention and care. A customer onboarding strategy will deal with engaging content formats, customized content discovery paths, and persona-based onboarding to ensure that your customer is fully equipped.
However, what works for one company might not be the best path forward for another. Take your time to understand the key pain points of your customers.
At its core, customer onboarding is not about telling your customer everything they need to know. It is about generating their interest and showing off your potential so they stick around.