SaaS Customer Onboarding: best practices 2023
Good day friends!
Today we'll talk about customer onboarding in SaaS-companies.
Let's imagine a situation: a company has developed a good product with a lot of investment of time, effort and money. Then the same amount was invested in advertising and user acquisition.
And users have left, just not fully understanding how your product can help them and how to use it effectively.
😱 Horror! Isn't it?
But, such situations happen quite often. Just look at the statistics:
- More than 90% of customers think companies could do better customer onboarding.
- 86% of people say they are more likely to remain loyal to a business that invests in on-adaptation content.
Customer onboarding is a set of actions that help users understand the value of your product in order to ultimately make them your customers.
Today, our invited experts will help us to discover this topic.
So, less theory, and more practical advice from experts! Let's start :)
Introducing the experts
François-Louis Mommens, Founder and CEO at Linkody and IndexCheckr
François Mommens is a software engineer turned serial entrepreneur. He solo bootstrapped a couple of successful SaaS in the SEO industry. Linkody is a well established backlink tracker use by hundreds of marketing agencies. IndexCheckr has been released recently and is following the same growth path as Linkody. He is experimenting with new ideas of innovative businesses and has more tools in the making.
Tushar Jain, Founder & CEO at Enthu.AI
Tushar is the founder of Enthu.AI, a conversation intelligence platform that helps voice teams monitor 100% of their customer calls and execute personalized agent coaching at scale. Tushar is passionate about customer success and that reflects in the 5 star rated testimonials that Enthu.AI gets from its customers.
What is SaaS Onboarding?
SaaS onboarding refers to introducing and integrating a new SaaS application into an organization. It encompasses all activities to ensure a seamless transition from initial user registration to full software adoption. The primary goal of SaaS onboarding is to provide users with a smooth and intuitive experience, enabling them to understand and leverage the software's features to their fullest potential.
What are SaaS Onboarding Experiences?
SaaS onboarding experiences shape users' perceptions and interactions with the software. A well-designed onboarding experience can significantly impact user satisfaction, engagement, and, ultimately, the success of the SaaS product. Let's explore some everyday SaaS onboarding experiences:
User Registration and Account Setup: Onboarding begins with user registration and account setup. This process involves collecting user information, such as email addresses and passwords, to create personalized accounts. Streamlining this step is crucial, ensuring the registration process is quick, secure, and user-friendly.
Guided Product Tours: Many platforms offer guided product tours to help users familiarize themselves with the SaaS application's features and functionalities. These interactive walkthroughs provide step-by-step instructions for navigating the software, highlighting key features and their benefits. Well-designed product tours can significantly reduce the learning curve and empower users to leverage the software effectively.
Contextual Help and Support: Users may encounter questions or difficulties during the onboarding process. Offering contextual help and support within the software interface can be invaluable. It includes providing in-app tooltips, knowledge bases, FAQs, and chat or ticket-based support systems. Prompt and relevant assistance ensures users can quickly overcome obstacles and proceed with tasks.
Progress Tracking and Gamification: Implementing progress tracking and gamification elements in onboarding can enhance user engagement and motivation. By visually showcasing users' progress and achievements, such as completing certain tasks or reaching specific milestones, the onboarding experience becomes more enjoyable and rewarding.
Personalization and Customization: SaaS applications often cater to a diverse range of users and organizations. By offering personalization and customization options, such as interface preferences, language settings, or tailored workflows, users feel more connected to the software. They can adapt it to their specific needs and preferences.
Onboarding Emails and Communication: Effective communication is vital throughout the onboarding journey. SaaS providers can utilize onboarding emails to deliver targeted and relevant content, including tutorials, tips, and best practices. Regular communication ensures users feel supported and informed, encouraging continued engagement with the software.
Main stages of Effective Customer Onboarding
I think this really depends on the size of your business, for Linkody the thought process will be different than for more complex businesses.
We always start by asking questions like “What knowledge needs to be transmitted to the user?” and “How is this knowledge best transferred?”.
From here we begin to build the onboarding process the customer will go through.
For the welcome email and account set-up, I think it’s important to keep it short but sweet, don’t overload them with information.
This way, the user isn’t brain fried by the time they get to your feature you want to stress.
Then you have to correctly time your sequence, or trigger each piece of information on specific user actions.
The first stage is a successful handover from the sales to the customer onboarding team.
Next comes activation, where the onboarding team introduces the customer to the software and shows them how to benefit from the product. This can be through self-serve channels or through one to one onboarding sessions.
Thereafter, it’s the measurement process where one needs to measure the customer consumption pattern and take proactive measures in case the customer is facing issues with the product.
Why is Onboarding Important in SaaS?
SaaS onboarding plays a crucial role in the success of software adoption and user satisfaction. Let's explore some key reasons why onboarding is essential in the SaaS industry:
Building User Confidence
Effective onboarding instills confidence in users, helping them feel comfortable and capable when using a new SaaS application. A well-designed onboarding process guides through the features, functionalities, and workflows, ensuring they сфт to navigate and utilize the tool effectively. By providing clear instructions and removing confusion, SaaS onboarding gains confidence in their abilities and fosters a quality user experience.
Improving User Product Adoption
In SaaS customer onboarding, it is crucial to drive technology adoption. When users come through and have a seamless and intuitive procedure, with higher chances, they explore and use various features and capabilities of the SaaS application. By reducing the learning curve and showcasing the product's value, It encourages the team to embrace the software and integrate it into daily workflows fully.
Increasing User Value
By delivering the best onboarding experiences, you help people unlock a SaaS application's total value and potential. With clear guidance and exceptional attention to the essential features, onboarding guarantees that everyone understands how to leverage the software's functionalities to address their specific aspects. When encountering excellent SaaS onboarding practices, team members will continue their subscriptions and become long-term, satisfied customers.
Elevating Growth Potential
A well-designed procedure directly impacts the growth potential of a SaaS business. The onboarding procedure reduces churn and boosts retention by facilitating a quicker adaptation. When team members get a positive experience and successfully use the software daily. Thus, chances are high that they would advocate the product and upgrade to higher-tier plans or additional services. In turn, this drives revenue growth and expands the customer base.
Key channels for onboarding. Which channel works best?
Emails are good in that users can get back to them when they have the time. They are good for onboarding that extends over a long period of time, like for instance during a 1-month trial.
System messages can be very powerful if done well, otherwise, the sequence can be easily skipped.
The best channel for onboarding depends on the type of product that is on the offer.
If you have a product with a straightforward use case and a well-defined user expectation, you should focus on low touch models for onboarding (like tutorial videos, help documents and system messages etc.). That gives you the ROI.
The best example here would be a VoIP software like Aircall or a standard CRM like Pipedrive.
But if the product solves for a complex use case with multiple stakeholders involved as users, a high touch model for onboarding (through web conferencing) generally works the best.
Not only can you align the product benefits for each user role, you also get to understand the expectations of the diverse audience first hand. That helps you address the concerns right at the start of the engagement, something which would have never been possible with the self-serve onboarding channels.
At Enthu.AI, a medium touch model works best for us. We work closely with our customers during the initial 3 weeks of the onboarding phase. Most of the interactions happen over Zoom calls and emails. We also use help documentation and video tutorials extensively during this time, to help the customer with the most basic queries, but our first preference is always to get onto a call and answer the customer questions right then and there.
What customer onboarding metrics and KPIs should you track?
We track the Time to Value (which is the time the customer takes to perform the first couple of actions).
We also track the consumption of the software (in terms of number of logins per week, evaluation forms completed, new agents added etc.), time spent within the software, features that get used the most, and so on.
What's the hardest part about onboarding users?
A big challenge is finding the right balance between educating your users and overloading them with too much communication.
On one side, you want to be as clear and succinct as possible, but does that serve all your users? Some may want more elaborate information or find it easier to read in-depth articles from the help center. Others may want to watch an instructional video.
Your balance is found when you can combine both in-depth and bullet-point instructions into one coherent, accessible format.
Talking from my own experience at Enthu.AI, managing user expectations and keeping them engaged is the hardest part when it comes to onboarding users.
In an enterprise play, the sponsor is generally different from the real user of the product. In such a scenario, user onboarding needs to establish the value and benefits of the product asap. It’s not about showing features or highlighting the bells & whistles, it’s all about showing how the product makes the job easy for the user.
Earlier the benefits are established, the smoother the onboarding process becomes.
The next big challenge is to keep the users engaged and making them take action. This can be done by creating well-defined but smaller next steps; and setting clear outcomes from each task.
For example, in our case, immediately after the first onboarding session, we suggest the user to listen to just 5 customer conversations within Enthu.AI and note if the product helps them monitor & evaluate calls faster. This not just gives them the glimpse of the core product benefit, but also establishes the same in a live setup.
What technologies should the customer success department invest in?
Teams should invest in tools and technologies that result in automation, productivity gains and better customer interactions.
Modern customer success departments should be seen as revenue functions, not just a cost driver.
Helpdesk software, NPS tools, support documentation tools etc. are the basic necessities. You should also look at conversation AI tools like Enthu. AI, which can help you monitor 100% of your customer conversations automatically and generate actionable insights for personalized agent coaching.
SaaS Onboarding Best Practices with Examples
Designing an effective SaaS onboarding process requires precise planning, and raising one's expectations too high is better. Let's explore the three most important practices and examples of their implementation.
Speak to Your Users' Desires
The key to the success of any onboarding procedure is its ability to address the goals and desires of people. Thus, it requires at least a basic understanding of their values to provide a solution that would align with their needs. This match will significantly enhance the whole experience. Check out some examples:
Personalized Onboarding: Tailor the experience following their preferences and objectives. For instance, if your SaaS solution offers different modules or features, allow users to choose their primary focus during onboarding. This way, you can provide customized guidance aligning with their goals.
Highlight Relevant Use Cases: Showcase how your product can turn to common challenges users face in their industry or role. By demonstrating ways you can address their specific pain points, you can immediately capture their interest and establish the importance of the solution.
Provide Relevant Content: Deliver targeted content throughout the process to address people s desires. It can include informative articles, tutorials, or case studies that demonstrate the real-world welfare of your software. By aligning your content with users' interests, you can keep them engaged and motivated to explore further.
Show Them Their Progress
Tracking and showcasing progress can significantly enhance their sense of achievement and motivation. Here are some examples of this:
Checklists or Task Lists: Break down the process into manageable parts and present them as a checklist or task list. As users complete each task, visibly mark it as done. It provides a clear sense of progress and helps users understand their journey toward mastering the software.
Visual Progress Bars: Implement graphic progress bars illustrating how many users have completed the onboarding process. This visual representation helps users gauge their progress at a glance and encourages them to continue moving forward.
Milestones and Badges: Recognize users' accomplishments during onboarding by awarding milestones or badges. For example, you can acknowledge their progress with virtual rewards after completing certain tasks or reaching specific milestones. This gamified approach adds fun and achievement to the onboarding experience.
Welcome New Users
Creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for new users can significantly impact how they perceive your SaaS product. Consider the following examples to make new users feel valued and appreciated:
One way to create a personal touch is by sending personalized welcome messages to new users upon registration. Address them by name and express gratitude for choosing your SaaS product. Please take the opportunity to provide a brief overview of what they can expect during the onboarding process.
Crafting an onboarding email series can also be effective. Strategically time these emails to deliver relevant content and guidance to new users. Include tips, best practices, and additional resources to help users get the most out of the software.
Another important aspect is to ensure that new users have accessible support channels during the onboarding process. It can include live chat support, dedicated onboarding support teams, or a comprehensive knowledge base that addresses common questions and concerns.
Improve your user onboarding process
Will your new customers stick around for a few years, or fall off after a few days? It depends on whether their adaptation experience is successful.
Thanks to our experts for sharing their vision and practical advice!
Wrapping up, we can say that for a successful adaptation experience, you need to:
- Know your product
Since the set of steps and channels for onboarding depends on the complexity of the product.
- Know your customers
To better manage their expectations and interest.
- Create a multichannel onboarding experience
Users consume information in many places and have different preferences for learning styles. Especially for complex B2B products.
- Track the effectiveness of your onboarding process
Be sure to set and analyze targets, track conversions and churn. This will allow you to find points for improvement.
- Use automation technology and tools
Start with CRM and gradually add academies for customer education and AI tools for conversations.
We wish you many loyal customers and high conversions!
See you in the next article 👋