Top 6 Steps to Successful Customer Onboarding

A substandard onboarding experience is heavily linked to higher levels of customer churn. Conversely, customers who are onboarded successfully, having had their expectations met or exceeded, are primed to be long-term customers, grow their investment with your company, and be strong advocates for your brand.

It all starts with understanding your customers’ desired outcomes and building a plan to deliver those outcomes across your customer base in a scalable and repeatable way. 

How you structure that onboarding and your method of engagement will of course be determined by the complexity of your solution, the customers’ spend, how savvy your users tend to be, and the tools you have at your disposal. It can range everywhere from a fully digital and self-service onboarding to a white-glove, high-touch, long-term process.

So, let’s address these challenges and investigate what it takes to successfully onboard a new customer…

Why Is Customer Onboarding Important?

Poor customer onboarding can be a serious deal breaker for most users. If a business fails to make a great first impression, it is difficult to get another chance. Now, let’s see why onboarding a new customer properly is SO important. 

  • It instructs users how to use your product or service

By giving clear and simple instructions about your product usage, you are encouraging a client to start using it right away and extract the desired value from it. It is not rare for new customers to encounter difficulties when using your product for the first time, and it is, therefore, crucial to help them understand its functionality and act as a helping hand if they require additional information.

  • It keeps the users engaged

Once they get an in-depth understanding of how your product can resolve a certain problem they are facing, your customers’ interest will improve, and they will, hopefully, return to it daily. 

  • It helps you learn more about your customers

A successful process for customer onboarding should navigate your customers seamlessly from sign-up to product usage, and this is a great opportunity to get to know them better. By using customer onboarding software and analyzing customer data, you can identify certain trends and patterns that can help you identify your customer’s preferences. Further on, this data serves as material for creating a personalized onboarding experience. By using customer success software like Akita to analyze extensive customer data, you can segment your customers into groups based on their characteristics, track their activities and behavior, get the visualized metric data, and modify your onboarding strategy as you go. 

  • It improves customer loyalty and increases revenue

If you ensure a customer has an exceptional onboarding experience, it is more likely they will stick around, purchase more frequently, and increase revenue. After all, the main reasons why customers churn are the inability to comprehend your product’s value and the way it operates. 

When Does the Customer Onboarding Process Begin?

In e-commerce, companies are applying strategies for customer onboarding after the sale. However, in SaaS, the process should begin a moment after a potential customer signs up for the service. If the SaaS company offers free trial versions, this is the perfect time to demonstrate how the service works and let the users assess whether it fits their needs. By having a detailed yet clear-cut onboarding, a business can spark interest more easily and convert free users into paying customers. 

What Does Customer Onboarding Involve?

Getting familiar with a new service can feel overwhelming for users. The time spent in their mission to understand its basic functionality should be as short as possible, and the same rule applies to the sign-up and welcoming process. This is why it is important to take carefully determined steps to successful customer onboarding. 

  1. Include a short sign-up 

Make sure to seek only the vital pieces of information during the sign-up process and gather additional ones later. One of the best practices is to offer a sign-up with the platform they already use (like Google, for example) or simply use a short form that contains a few fields.

  1. Keep the welcome email informative 

Except for sending a welcome email that shows appreciation for their interest, we recommend you include important resources about the service or product to help the users get started. You can include videos, various links, FAQs, images, and others. Staying clear about CTAs (calls to action) will guide your users smoothly to the new chapter. Therefore, make sure to include a single CTA that drives the exact action you wish to encourage. 

  1. Simplify the Initial log-in

Motivate your audience to move on to setting up an account by providing guidance. Include simple set-up wizards and engaging CTA that will move them forward to the goal, and don’t forget to celebrate their milestones!

  1. Keep the product walkthroughs customizable

It is not rare that new users wish to skip certain product walkthrough segments or the entire program in case they are short on time. Still, make it optional for them to come back to it whenever needed, and include a skip option for each part. 

  1. Offer integrations and data imports

Even though most of your new customers will need to set up integration between your product and other platforms they use, this area should still be optional. In every case, making the process automated as much as possible will certainly facilitate the bothersome data import and integration. Also, during this vulnerable stage, it is crucial to stay supportive and responsive when the issue comes up. 

  1. Include follow-up emails

Remember, the new customer onboarding process shouldn’t end after the first log-in. This is a perfect time to send a follow-up email with additional resources, tip-offs, and reminders that your dedicated onboarding customer service is ready to jump in at any time. 

How the Akita Platform helps SaaS Companies Onboard their Customers

Akita’s customer success platform allows companies to integrate all of their customer data into one place and ask that combined data-set hard, detailed questions about the status, health, and profile of your customers. 

This is done in the form of filtered segments. From an Onboarding standpoint, Akita users can create segments that identify which customers are currently onboarding, whether the onboarding is proceeding smoothly, has stalled, or has failed. See below …

Akita segment identifying which customers’ onboardings are failing

The user is then armed to either manually intervene if required or apply a triggered Akita playbook (combining tasks and customer messages) to ensure the onboarding is completed successfully.

Tips To Improve the Onboarding Experience

Customer onboarding doesn’t come in one shape, so testing its performance should be as frequent as possible. Try out different approaches (like the number of welcome emails or the need for an extensive product tour) and see what the feedback is like. By analyzing customer data in customer success software like Akita, you can personalize the experience for each client and add that customer-centric touch that can only strengthen your relationship with them. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can customer onboarding reduce churn?

Yes! Exceptional customer onboarding is the foundation of a great customer experience. Why would customers churn if they get what they need from your business?

 

What is the goal of customer onboarding?

The ultimate goal of a successful customer onboarding process is customer retention and more sales. If your customers are returning to your product months after the first use, this means the mission is accomplished!

 

How long should the onboarding process last?

There is no definite answer to this one as it depends on the complexity of your business. However, if the process is automated, the length can be significantly reduced.

 

Related Articles

Best Customer Success Software Best Customer Success Software for Your CS Department in 2024

If you are reading this, you are faced with a real challenge. Either you already manage a customer success function and your existing toolset is not fit for purpose, or you have decided to start a customer success department and want to implement the right software as a solid foundation for your Customer Success Managers […]

Read more
Customer retention metrics Important Customer Retention Metrics and How to Interpret Them

A laser focus on retention is at the heart of any sustainably successful SaaS business. The ability to keep existing customers coming back year after year while at the same time continuing to add new customers has a profound and compounding effect on your revenues. In order to achieve an elite level of retention, you […]

Read more
What is the difference between customer satisfaction and customer retention What is the Difference Between Customer Satisfaction and Customer Retention?

Simply put, while measurable, customer satisfaction is subjective and experiential. Retention, however, is an objective, observable, and measurable phenomenon. You either retain a customer or you don’t. It’s clear. The satisfaction a customer feels, however, can change due to a real issue with the software or how that customer is being supported, but it can […]

Read more
The Correlation Between Customer Satisfaction and Retention

Customer satisfaction and retention are intrinsically linked. If you fail to maintain high levels of customer satisfaction, your retention levels will suffer, reducing revenues and profitability and forcing you to invest even more heavily in attracting new business. Conversely, driving up customer satisfaction makes life significantly easier for any SaaS business, with improved revenues, referrals […]

Read more
Customer Retention Software Tools

Figuring out the right software stack to help manage your Customer Retention goals can be tricky. It really comes down to what your specific goals are, what type of market you serve, the customer data you retain and where that data resides. There are some specific types of tools you should consider. Customer Relationship Management […]

Read more
How to Calculate customer retention rate How to Calculate Customer Retention Rate? (+ Benefits)

In SaaS, customer retention stands as a key indicator of sustained success. When you understand how to measure and improve customer retention rates, you can secure your business lasting customer loyalty, sustained growth, and a better market position.

Read more
what is retention rate What is Retention Rate and How to Calculate it?

SaaS thrives on ongoing relationships, where delivering value and ensuring continuously high levels of satisfaction are vital for revenue growth and sustainability. Ultimately, when it comes to long-term success, holding onto your customers can be more important than acquiring them. For that reason, you should know what is the retention rate so you can be on […]

Read more
Customer Retention Analysis Customer Retention Analysis: A Guide for SaaS Businesses

The ability to sustainably grow revenues from your existing customer base is essential to thesurvival of SaaS companies in 2024.  To do this, you first need to retain your customers. This requires a deep understanding of what it is about your product, service, or brand that drives customers to continue investing over time.Customer retention analysis […]

Read more
What is customer retention cost What is Customer Retention Cost and How to Reduce It?

It can take time for a SaaS or subscription company to achieve profitability with a customer. As only part of the revenue is realized up front, much effort is required to ensure sufficient future revenue is earned. You may wonder “What is Customer Retention Cost (CRC)?” — It’s the associated cost of serving the customer […]

Read more
Customer success onboarding process How to Create a Solid Customer Success Onboarding Process?

It’s a SaaS industry truism that customers who experience positive and successful onboardings are much less likely to churn and are more likely to invest more in your solution over time. The converse applies for customers whose onboarding experience is sub-optimal. So how do we define what a successful onboarding process looks like and effectively […]

Read more