Why Exceptional Onboarding is Critical to Successful Product Adoption

Most organizations find SaaS solutions advantageous to stay fit in complex and dynamic business environments. These applications can serve one or several purposes, but there is one constant: once users begin using a product, whether during a trial or full access, time-to-value must be minimal to boost the likelihood of successful product adoption and expedite their journey to advocacy.

That’s why your customer success team must play a pivotal role in making sure that users get off on the right foot with your application. They know that first impressions are lasting and certainly look at onboarding as a strategic process with a direct impact on customer success throughout their entire journey, not just a formality to get users up and running. What’s more, users now expect technology providers to account for their industry or role, business model, and stage of growth. Gone are the days when one-size-fits-all implementations were the norm.

SaaS businesses thus need to deliver an exceptional, highly targeted onboarding experience to their customers and anticipate their needs based on in-product behaviors. Let’s look more in detail at what such an exceptional onboarding experience entails.

A carefully planned onboarding process

The hard work of offering an outstanding onboarding experience starts behind the scenes. Even before an application is commercialized, your customer success and product teams need to build the processes that will facilitate product adoption and later encourage users to hit every subsequent milestone in the customer journey.

They must develop a communication strategy that is contextually relevant to different segments, balancing automated, self-service models with high-touch interactions ranging from guided tours and feature callouts to kick-off calls and product training sessions. All of these touch points should be coordinated in a meaningful way to take the form of a complete customer journey led by both in-app and in-person engagements. And that starts with strong product adoption.

Protip: How do you decide when to automate an interaction? Automation makes sense for non-strategic and time-sensitive communications. For instance, most users expect to receive a welcome email right after signing up, especially if the message contains information they need to get started. But there are many interactions, like technical support or account expansion conversations, that require a friendly voice or a helping hand. Learn more about how to balance high-tech with high-touch in our whitepaper.

Setting the tone for the future

Onboarding is the first time buyers are interacting with your company as customers, and it’s the opportunity for you to put the benefits of your product into practice right in front of their eyes. More than that, it’s a defining moment as this step can either lead to a healthy, successful relationship that increases lifetime value or become a potential risk for churn later down the line.

A poor onboarding experience is frustrating for customers who were excited about your product. It inevitably creates a gap in how they perceive your product and your company. As a result, they may think your application is too complicated or they might consider that not enough emphasis has been put on user experience or customer care. Those perceptions are never a good sign for a customer.

In contrast, a great onboarding experience can go a long way. Satisfied users who are able to solve their business problem(s) smoothly have more incentives to become advocates who recommend your SaaS to their colleagues and other companies. And since the customer success team has (ideally) developed a good working relationship with them in the process, it becomes easier to collect feedback and introduce new features that match their requirements. That’s a win for everyone.

Continuously measuring onboarding performance

Your organization also needs to decide which in-product interactions to monitor and select relevant metrics that measure success so they can identify areas for improvement in the onboarding process. A Customer Growth Platform™ is designed to provide actionable insights for these purposes, and it integrates various sources of data including:

  • Login activity — Are users actively taking part in the onboarding process? Are they signing in more or less frequently over time? Are they interacting with onboarding-specific engagements?
  • Feature usage per user/account — Do they adopt only a few or the majority of features available to them? Are onboarding sessions aligned with how they use the product? What about their business outcomes?
  • Support tickets submitted — Are various customers always facing the same challenges while getting started with the product? What can the product team do to remove these pain points?
  • Average time spent on any given engagement — Do users seem to struggle? Are some features particularly hard to configure?
  • Sentiment — What was valuable? What wasn’t? What can be improved for future new users? (Our CEO, Rachel Orston, wrote an article on how delivering an onboarding-specific NPS survey can help prevent future churn.)

Onboarding is a strategic undertaking for SaaS businesses to minimize time-to-value and facilitate product adoption, and customer success teams play a big part in the process to make a great first impression. To do so, they require the right technology to monitor in-product behaviors, measure progress and discover the effectiveness of each interaction. Schedule a demo with UserIQ to learn more about how to improve your onboarding experience and increase product adoption rates.

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