Customer Onboarding Strategies for SaaS Businesses

Onboarding is critical to your customers’ long-term success, and it has a direct impact on future churn. While that much pressure on a single process can seem intimidating, there are ways to simplify and strengthen your strategy.

Our Introduction to Customer Onboarding teaches you everything you need to know about understanding, planning, and implementing more effective onboarding. In it, we cover three different types of customer onboarding strategies. In today’s post, though, we’ll explore how to combine these strategies to create your best onboarding yet.

How to Combine High-Tech with High-Touch Customer Onboarding

Two of the main customer onboarding strategies covered in our guide are high-tech and high-touch.

High-tech onboarding includes a self-service approach and/or a milestone-based approach. Self-service, as the name suggests, is focused on creating intuitive processes that users can follow and use on their own. It’s the most “hands-off” and scalable onboarding method, but it requires a great deal of understanding about the customer and what they need to know. Self-service onboarding also needs to be manually updated, since onboarding powered by machine learning isn’t available yet. Milestone-based onboarding still features user-guided information, but you have more input about where and when users come across it.

On the other hand, high-touch onboarding is all about person-to-person interaction. This strategy can be very time and labor intensive, in the case of on-site training, or it can be more scalable with champion-based onboarding—which is when your customer success teams onboard one person at the company, who in turn trains everyone else on their team.

The most efficient onboarding combines both high-tech and high-touch models to achieve scalability while still placing your customer success team in a proactive, rather than reactive, state. What’s the right formula for combining these two onboarding methods, though? It will depend on a few factors:

Your level of customer knowledge. How much do you understand about how your users view success and how they interact with your app? As you learn about user interactions through tools such as customer journey analysis or product usage data, you can implement more self-guided onboarding. It’s important to keep in mind that customer knowledge isn’t a one-and-done task. You’ll need to update onboarding as your users evolve.

Customer team makeup. Is your customer’s team in one location, or spread out? The high-touch strategy of virtual, webinar-based onboarding makes more sense for a distributed team. You’ll also need to consider the size of the team, as well as whether or not there’s a well-positioned champion to relay information. Small teams may have even more limited time, so fitting a virtual meeting into their tight schedule might make more sense. On the other hand, teams with multiple user types with different needs will need to be onboarded separately.

How complex your product is. Customers are more likely to find success with self-guided onboarding if your product is fairly simple or intuitive. However, you’ll need to use tooltips, guided tours, or virtual customer onboarding for more detailed processes.

Increase Impact With User Segmentation

Finding the combination of high-tech and high-touch onboarding that works for both you and your customers is a great onboarding baseline. Want to take it to the next level? Let’s work in some user segmentation. Segment-based onboarding is a way to make your high-touch onboarding more scalable, and your high-tech onboarding more personal. After all, personalization is a customer onboarding best practice.

To use segmentation to increase the scalability of your high-touch onboarding, consider your customer tiers. Do you serve different size and type companies and teams? If you do, it’s possible that not every customer type needs one-on-one onboarding to accomplish their goals. In this case, you might limit “white glove” onboarding for your highest-tiered enterprise clients.

Additionally, you can use role-based onboarding to tailor your guided tech-first onboarding. If the main features used by managers and other team members varies, then so should your guided product tours. Segmenting by user or goal helps make scalable high-tech onboarding feel more personalized and impactful.

Customer Onboarding Examples

Theories and ideas are great, but sometimes it can be hard to translate them to tactical strategies within the customer onboarding process. Let’s wrap up by going over a few customer onboarding examples.

For our first scenario, let’s imagine we’re creating a customer onboarding strategy for a complex tool that is used mainly by busy executives. For the high-touch element, you could have a customer success member conduct a virtual training that can be recorded so that the customer can review later. Additionally, you would want to implement launcher to make it easy for the customer to quickly reference guided product tours for particular features at any time. This combination of high-tech and high-touch helps reinforce and contextualize their training.

What if you’re working with a large, distributed, and diverse team, though? If there’s a clear product champion at the head of each customer segment, focus your high-touch efforts on them. Then, you’ll want to use user segmentation and guided product tours for each user type. You can monitor product usage analytics for each segment, and deploy in-app messages or tooltips for features that are being overlooked.

In the age of freemium, it is not enough to attract potential buyers and hope that they will adopt your product on their own. You need to guide them, taking into consideration how valuable accounts are to you, your user’s expectations and level of comfortability with tech, your customer success resources, and whether to use a high-touch or high-tech customer onboarding strategy or combination.

Would you like to learn more about customer onboarding strategies, processes, and tools you can use? Check out our Complete Introduction to Customer Onboarding.

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