Best Practices for Customer Onboarding of SaaS Products

Customer Onboarding
The ‘Don’t Make Me Think’ mantra has never been more relevant in the software product landscape as it has been today. Today’s consumer wants to use simple products that solve complex problems. As software gets more integrated into the fabric of our lives, both personal and professional, businesses try to come up with the best product and services to drive up user adoption. However, it is interesting to note that people stop using a product not because it is not useful or because it doesn’t solve the intended problem. They stop using a product because it takes more than desired effort to get used to it. This is especially true for SaaS companies. Customer churn is a very real part of any business. Research suggests that 40-60% of users who sign up for a free trial of the software or SaaS application will use it once and never come back. Churn rates impact SaaS companies harder because the revenue for the service is delivered over an extended period of time. Did you also know that a 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%? Clearly, as we move into the experience economy, SaaS companies have to become more focused in their efforts to reduce customer churn and drive up adoption. And customer onboarding is the first interaction area that decides the future course of product success. By enabling a smooth user onboarding process, you ensure the usability of your SaaS product.

The Purpose of Customer onboarding

Broadly, having a defined customer onboarding process is essential as it is this step that assists the user in:
  • Understanding the product, its features, benefits and how to use them
  • Engaging the user to complete the product setups and configurations
  • Avoiding the ‘ghost town’ effect when the customer interacts with the product interface
In effect, the customer onboarding experience has to be comprehensive and detailed enough to make the customer aware of how the product addresses and solves an existing problem, how the product works, how every single feature in the product works, and how the product helps the user achieve the desired short term and long term goals. It is only product success that enables customer success.

The Problem with Customer Onboarding Today

Customer onboarding is a tall order. And while the users’ interactions with products have changed dramatically, customer onboarding still remains a bifurcated experience. Product education is only a part of the onboarding experience. What the customer wants today is:
  • Immediate service
  • Exceptional product experience
  • Complete transparency
Unfortunately, with most SaaS products, the customers are faced with:
  • Dealing with too many things screaming for their attention – The customer would just like to begin by learning how to use a product and not go on an exploratory tour.
  • No clarity in defining what are the core product features and which are the bells and whistles – Which features should be introduced first? How do the core features work? When should the complex features be introduced? Too much information can be hard for the user to process
  • Cognitive overload – Information overload only leads to distraction and causes the user to lose interest in the product. Too many pop-ups or instructions end up making product comprehension harder and leads to cognitive overload.
  • Improper feedback – Yes, feedback begins with customer onboarding. Not all unhappy customers complain. So it becomes imperative that gathering feedback becomes a proactive and data-driven process so that the right support can be given proactively to the client.

What effective customer onboarding looks like?

In this age of personalization should customer onboarding expect anything else?

Product education and engagement

SaaS products have to drive role-based and just-in-time training to the users to educate them about the product. The idea is not just to onboard the users but also to engage them. Thus, SaaS companies should look at creating and delivering tooltips and smart content and project the same to the right screen within the product instead of letting the user wander aimlessly all over the product.

Provide role-specific and personalized training to any user subset

While the aim has to be product education, customer onboarding should also aim to provide personalized guidance and in-app guides, deliver context help and training within the product, provide smart tips or quick offer training right on-screen to tackle usability issues or common feature misunderstandings.

Inform and educate the customer without adding to their cognitive load.

Yes, customers need to be informed of all new features and updates. However, don’t most release announcements and such updates get lost in the customer’s inbox? To drive product success, SaaS companies should look at delivering all product related information, be it new feature announcements, releases, upgrades and updates, which are relevant to their use cases from within the product itself. Instead of bombarding hundreds of marketing messages, this can help in driving 1:1 proactive engagement at scale.

Make feedback proactive

In today’s age, delayed feedback is as good as no feedback. It is imperative for SaaS companies to gain deeper insights into user behavior to make faster and better decisions. They should be able to create surveys and run them inside the product, target surveys to specific customers to understand them better and also gauge customer satisfaction levels in real-time. Finally, customer onboarding has to be a device-agnostic and omni-channel to drive value across the entire value chain and deliver an immediate and engaging product experience. All this can be achieved quite simply by using the Flype Product Success Cloud, a modern product success platform that allows businesses to understand, engage, educate and assist users to drive business outcomes. Flype helps in extending your SaaS product to accelerate product adoption, increase user retention, reduce support/education costs and improve customer satisfaction all while delivering an exceptional experience that starts with a customized onboarding plan. Do you want your customer onboarding plan to lead to product success? Connect with our team to enable this.