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May 31, 2022

If you’re running a SaaS business, then customer onboarding is essential to your success. But what is customer onboarding, really? In this post, we’ll explore the hard truth about what is customer onboarding and how to make sure you’re doing it right. I remember when I first started my software company.

We were so excited to get our first few customers on board that we didn’t even think about how we would actually help them use our product! It wasn’t until later that we realized just how important customer onboarding can be.Since then, we’ve made sure to invest time and resources into making our onboarding process as smooth and helpful as possible for new users. And in this customer onboarding guide , I’m going to share with you some of the things we’ve learned along the way.

What Is Customer Onboarding?

Customer onboarding is the process of getting new customers up-to-speed with your product or service. It involves orienting them to your company, explaining how your product or service works, and setting them up for success.

An effective customer onboarding process will help new customers quickly become comfortable and confident using your product or service, and more likely to stick around long-term.

A Guide to SaaS User Onboarding

‘On-Boarding’ is the term used to refer to the process that customers experience when they start using your product.

The experience of using the product or service for the first time can set the tone for an ongoing relationship with the customer.

In short: It matters.

Have you ever added any new habits to your daily routine?

You decided to download a language app, but life got in the way. You practiced for 5 days straight, but then…

One night you stayed up too late, and the next morning you woke up feeling groggy and unprepared.

You’ve been meaning to try that new show everyone is talking about. Finally, you have a weekend free and decide to binge watch the entire season.

After a while, your motivation for making sales calls and your excuses for not making them start to fade.

If you can relate to any part of that scenario, it’s likely because you’re human. We’ve all tried building new habits at some point or another, with varying degrees of success. It’s not an easy feat by any means.

It’s not easy.

Learning and integrating a software tool into your routine is just like mastering a new language, working out, or meditating.

When signing up for a software trial, users are faced with the challenge of making a habit of using the service.

As a SaaS company, it’s important to support new users as much as possible during the initial weeks after they sign up for a free trial. This is where customer onboarding comes into play. By providing a great onboarding customer experience, you can help new users form the habit of using your product consistently.

Let’s talk about it.

SaaS Onboarding – Tailoring the Customer Onboarding Process

There’s no one size fits all strategy for software as a service (SaaS) b2b companies.

Product Considerations for Product Onboarding

The length of your on-boarding will depend on the length of your software. The structure of your on boarding process will also depend on the type of product you’re selling.

Your product is the first factor that impacts your onboarding. The length and format of onboarding will vary based on how complicated your product is, which features are best to start with, what plan level users start with, and whether or not features require data or information to work.

High-Tech Or High-Touch Onboarding?

When deciding which type of customer segment to target, you need to consider whether to use a high tech or a high touch approach to your on-boarding process.

High-touch onboarding is the best way to ensure that your technical product or user account with multiple team members gets the individualized attention it needs. By incorporating more one-on-one assistance or touchpoints with a Customer Success Manager, you can be confident that all your questions and concerns will be addressed in a timely and effective manner.

SaaS Client Onboarding – Elements of SaaS Customer Onboarding (And What You Can Do To Improve Them)

If you’re feeling lost with all the information we’ve covered so far, don’t worry. In this section, we’ll be looking at specific tactics you can use to improve your customer onboarding strategy.

1. Signup Process

The sign-up process is part of the process, but so is what happens after someone signs up.

Using their sign up page, basecamp helps users get their product up and running.

Instead of forcing users to start from square one and manually create teams, projects and tasks, they allow them to choose from a selection of pre-made templates. Then, that information is automatically populated once the user signs up.

Best practices:

It’s important to make the signup process as easy as possible for your users. You don’t want to overwhelm them with too many fields or request information that isn’t absolutely necessary. Form field validation is also important to reduce frustration. Some positive reinforcement while the form is being filled out can be helpful, such as social proof or compliments. Social signup buttons are also a great way to increase signup rates and make the process smoother for the user.

When creating a signup process, it is important to consider what information is absolutely critical. For most products, this generally includes a name, email address, and password. However, there may be additional self-segmenting questions that can help autofill data.

What additional information would be helpful to know in order to provide a better experience? This could be in the form of self-segmenting questions that help autofill data.

Carefully add in questions, and label them so that callers know they’re getting close to the end.

If you’re finding that not many people are completing your signup process, it may be because you’re asking for too much information. Try scaling back the number of fields or reducing the number of steps involved.

2. A Great Welcome Email

After the sign-up, you should send out a welcome email to your new subscribers. This is a great opportunity to celebrate or kick off the relationship.

The Welcome Email is the first email you send out to a customer once they’ve signed up for your service. This sets expectations for how you’ll communicate with them in the future.

Best practices:

Welcome to our company! We are excited to have you on board. Here are some best practices to help you get started:-Keeping it simple. Yes, there are probably a lot of things you want to (or need to) tell your new customers. But don’t bombard them with information! Some things can wait until they’ve spent a bit of time in your product.-Give them some resources that will help them and further engage them – this is a great opportunity to use that high-quality content you’ve been publishing on your blog. At ChartMogul, we always send links to our SaaS Metrics Cheat Sheets, which give a concise overview of the topic.-Don’t forget to thank them! They’ve just taken the time to sign up for your product, after all.-Reiterate your company’s perspective or mission, along with the outcomes and benefits a new user can expect.

When creating your lead magnet, think about what your prospect is going through or what they’re struggling through that lead them to sign up for your offer.

Explain the outcomes of your offer and how they can get started.

How to improve your emails: Monitor which links are clicked the most. If a link is consistently being ignored by your subscribers, consider removing it.

If the app’s Welcome Email is not convincing them to download, you may need to change how you position it.

If any of the links to your lead magnet in your Welcome Email are consistently being ignored by your subscribers, remove them and opt for a simpler message.

3. First Login

First impressions matter, especially when it comes to your app. If you want to reduce customer churn, take a look at your first login experience and make sure it’s up to par. A great first login will get the ball rolling and keep users engaged.

Either it will start a conversation or it will disrupt the experience.

Once a user logs in, they are greeted with a popup that welcomes them and explains the benefits of using mention.

Then, the call to action is “Create Your First Alert.”

Best practices:

Welcome! We’re glad you’re here. The first thing you’ll want to do is get your data imported. After that, you can start using all of our awesome tools and features. Thanks for choosing us, and we can’t wait to help you grow your business.

How do you create it? What is the first step?

Give callers a warm welcome and a starting point.

Did your method work? Did it improve new hire and employee retention rates?

If not, what would be the most logical first step?

4. Data Import

Some software requires users to manually import data (or connect to existing sources) to use it. For instance, the social media scheduling tool, Buffer, requires you to connect your social accounts, and the bill tracking app, Chartmogul, requires that you connect it to your billing system.

One of the major barriers in the customer journey of purchasing is completing the setup. Customers will not see value until they have completed the set up.

One way to make data import easy is by making it the first step. This allows users to connect their accounts or import data right away. Another way to make data import easy is by autofilling information based on what you learned during signup, as Basecamp does. Finally, you can put in dummy data so users see how great it is to import their own information.

Best practices:

The best way to automate your process is to support those who get stuck. You can do this by not requiring hours of the user’s time. Instead, let them know when it’s finished.

What data do you look at to determine who is likely to leave?

Importing data into Call Logic should be as painless and as quick a process as is possible.

How can the importing process be improved? Can the preparation be easier?

Can you remind them to import their data if they don’t do it?

5. Use Onboarding Emails to Keep Your Customers Engaged

After your prospect signs up, you have a great opportunity to send them an email. This is your best chance to educate them about all of the features of your product or service.

You can introduce users to individual features of your product, or highlight several together as a “case study” or “how to” guide.

Using case studies and client success stories is a great way to re-engage with users who may have lost interest.

Some best practices

Drip campaigns are a great way to introduce new concepts to customers in a helpful way. Make sure to introduce just one new concept per email so as not to overwhelm the customer. It is also important to follow a posting schedule that supports “little and often” so the customer will expect and even look forward to each subsequent mail. The goal is not to show each feature of the product in detail, but rather to entice the customer into trying out the feature. If you want to make your onboarding email series personalized, add behavior-based emails. Messages that are specific to the actions a person has (or hasn’t) taken are more relevant than generic time-based emails.

How to create a value proposition: Go back to your “ah-ha” and figure out what led to that. This can help you determine which features are most important, and which pieces of your content are the most relevant.

Look into which email subject lines are generating the most and the least opens.

What can you learn from your top performing sales team about what gets people’s attention and makes them act?

6. Create Product Tutorials

While a welcome message is a good start, it’s important to support your users in the long-run. Providing product tours or tutorials helps your community members learn to use your product.

Product tutorials are a great way to onboard new users. There are a variety of ways to introduce them to your product, including:

Best practices:

Making it as short as possible. No one wants to sit through a 10 minute video on how to use your product. Keep it short, sweet and to the point.When creating a tutorial for your product, it is important to keep it skippable, so that users are not forced to go through it if they do not want or need to. It is also important to make the tutorial possible for people to come back to later, in case they find that they need more help later on. Finally, keeping the tutorial as short as possible will help users get through it without getting bored or frustrated.

They should be clear, concise, and visually appealing.Creating product tutorials can be a helpful way to show users how easy or how helpful a given action is. It is important to prioritize product tutorials for either core first steps or tasks where you see engagement drop off. This will ensure that the tutorials are clear, concise, and visually appealing.

How to improve the article: Take a look at whether people are actually using this tutorial, and if so, when? A guide that is more “in the way” than useful may need be axed or displayed at another time.

7. Documentation 

While documentation may not be the most exciting part of a new hire’s experience, it is an important one. If everything works out, it may not even be necessary.

It’s important to have documentation available for users in case they get stuck and need guidance. The documentation should be easily accessible and understandable.

No matter what issue a user is facing, it’s important to have various types and levels of support available. This way, app users can get the help they need and continue using your app.

Best practices:

Bad or out-of-date documentation can do more harm than good. Keep your documentation up-to-date and easy to maintain. Structure it around tasks that the user is trying to accomplish with your product.

How to create a “how to” guide: Start by piecing together the “ah-ha” moments.

First, you want to focus on your strong points, then move on to the areas users struggle with.

Once you have all of your documentation in place, take some time to revisit it and update it as needed. It can be helpful to create different versions or formats of your documentation to make it more accessible for everyone. Keep in mind that people have different learning preferences, so try to cater to as many as possible.

Conclusion

So, what is customer onboarding role in any SaaS business? An effective customer onboarding process will help new customers quickly become comfortable and confident using your product or service, and more likely to stick around long-term. Customer onboarding can be one of the hardest things to get right. But if you take the time to invest in making your process smooth and helpful, you’ll be rewarded with engaged and loyal customers down the line.

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