SaaS Customer onboarding is the process of getting new customers set up to use your product successfully. It typically follows the sales stage and is followed by support/maintenance.
It isn’t just about teaching users to click a few buttons or complete a few training programs. Instead, a comprehensive and effective onboarding is a series of carefully considered steps—supplemented by resources, interactions, integrations, change management, and training—that help customers reach their goals or solve a problem using a new product.
Why onboarding matters
Here’s why getting this step right is important:
- It reduces churn and keeps customers engaged: A big part of customer churn occurs between two milestones:
- Sign-up or sale completion
- Your customer’s first “success” with your product, or their “aha moment”. If the journey to helping them see their first success is bumpy, unpleasant, confusing, or slow, customers will churn as they look for other smoother and faster options. The onboarding process is the path between these two milestones. A great onboarding process is a carefully designed and defined path for your customers to follow from sign-up/sale to getting to the point of their first success, making them more likely to stay.
- It improves conversions: If you offer a POC or a trial, you have limited time and resources to convert your customers. An onboarding experience that shortens time to value for your customers is more likely to convert your prospective customers into customers.
- It provides opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell: If you get onboarding right, your first set of users are likely to be your internal champions within the customer company. Word of mouth is the cornerstone of a land-and-expand strategy.
- Align your onboarding process with your value delivery framework: The goal of onboarding is to help get customers to their “aha moments.” A value delivery framework based on these successes should form the backbone of your onboarding process.
- Identify key stakeholders and key decision-makers at the customer end: Ensure that they are involved in key scoping decisions, timelines, and steer the project in case there are issues.
- Conduct a great kickoff meeting: A kickoff meeting done right is the best way to set your onboarding up for success. Make sure that all key stakeholders discuss key goals, timelines, and risks.
- Don’t overwhelm your customers with tasks: An overkill of notifications, tutorials, and check-ins will end up confusing them and they will slowly stop using your product. In your scoping, plan for small wins and a series of “aha moments.”
- Ensure transparent communication: Ensure that news, good and bad, is delivered to the right people at the right time. Ensure that your customers have clear visibility into the status of the project in terms of the progress made, blockers, issues, etc., — at both ends.
- Track the right metrics to measure onboarding progress and success. Here are some metrics to focus on:
- Time-to-First-Value: Define goals for TTFV for all your user cohorts as part of your onboarding plan. Track your users against your benchmark timelines for each cohort.
- Time-to-Go-Live: How long after sign-up or sale are you able to go live?
- Onboarding CSAT: How satisfied are your customers with the onboarding process?
- Customer Effort Score: How effort-intensive is your onboarding process for your customers?
- Customer engagement: How often do users log in? How long users stay logged in? What features are they exploring and using?
- Use the right tools: Onboarding can be chaotic, challenging, and stressful. Keeping track of multiple tasks, chat conversations, emails, documents, comments and ensuring follow-ups, updates, and reports are a huge drain of time and effort.
Make the most of integrated tools that help you keep a system-driven approach at the center of onboarding. This is the best way to improve collaboration within your team, ensure accountability at both ends, and maximize the visibility of the project for the customer. Rocketlane is specifically designed to help you streamline customer onboarding. Learn more here.