The First Impression is the Best Impression

The first impression of your product’s functionality is reflected in the onboarding process. It can give the best impression, if it empowers your customers. Onboarding can empower customers by delivering ‘First Value’ at the earliest possible junction. The premise of onboarding is to get your product set up correctly to meet your customers’ needs. The best way to ensure that the onboarding process works smoothly is to automate repetitive steps and to eliminate any source of human-induced error, and clearly communicate a timeline, so everyone knows what to expect.

Onboarding plays the role of the soothsayer or a fortune-teller, as it can predict whether a user will be retained, adopted, or churned early on, depending on the time taken to achieve first success with your product.

Empower Your Customers

At the very beginning, customers are fully loaded with excitement and curiosity about the product. Customer Success onboarding, the first step in the post-sales process, has a crucial role to play in elongating the customer lifecycle. Successful onboarding isn’t about a company’s goals, it’s about empowering customers to achieve their goals.

The first in-app experience that your customer has with the product helps to:

  • Get the customer proficient with the product
  • Function independently
  • Achieve first value in as little time as possible
  • Define the possible customer retention, adoption, and future expansion
  • Set the tone for your relationship

Value Your Users

Express gratitude to your customers for signing up for your service. Many SaaS companies welcome their users with a simple welcome email. Instead of a simple formal email, you can opt to sending a visually appealing email containing images, videos, or GIFs, as well as a personal note from your founder, thanking them for their business.

Valuing has its own benefits, right from valuing a customer’s presence to their patience, all of which helps in strengthening the relationship. A valued user is a happy user, who is far more likely to create repeatable revenue and spread the word about your company/product. This helps earn your brand a positive reputation as a customer-centric company.

Time To First Value

The time between acquiring a user and them achieving first success with your product is incredibly critical. If users take longer time to reach first success, they are more likely to churn because they will lose faith in the effectiveness of your solution.

To get your customers to reach first success quickly, assess your value proposition. Then, introduce and teach your users the best features of your product. Once users grasp the value of the product, they will transition from acquisition to first success quickly. This approach will help in permanently winning your users’ loyalty. Start small and get them independent, and then focus on teaching the more complicated use-cases as time goes on.

Problems in Delivering First Value

The problem is that many SaaS vendors don’t have a clear understanding about what the customer wants or the problem they are trying to solve. To remove this barrier, optimize your onboarding process by understanding: What does success mean to your customer? What are they trying to gain from the use of your service? How do they measure their success? Keep in mind the different types of users, and what each of their individual goals might be, as well as the collective goals of the organization as a whole.

It’s beneficial to discuss use cases within the product. This helps CSMs understand what can be implemented quickly to highlight quick wins and reinforce customer belief in the product.

Relationship Building

Welcome emails can be sent from the Founder or the CEO, even if it’s not the CEO welcoming them personally, but the Marketing team at work. The point is, users feel special and are more inclined to try out the product. It will help in cementing the relationship from day one, and building trust with the user. Furthermore, use onboarding emails to guide clients to resources that can help them learn without reaching out to the CS team directly. Videos, tutorials, landing pages, ebooks, guides, and more will provide the perception that you have covered all the bases already.

Help Them Explore Your Product

This is a great way to orient new users. Teach them to use the features that drive your value proposition, so that they can work on their own. Make this engagement more interactive, and keep text short and to the point. Gamification works best in order to engage users.

The aim is to push the users to explore and understand the functionality of the product to make their work easy. Users have to be aware of the things they can do with your product, and what needs to be achieved elsewhere so they have realistic ideas of what your product delivers.

If users can be provided with a roadmap, it will help them know where they stand and how far they have to cover to reach their goal. By setting expectations early, users will be motivated to complete the onboarding process.

Sharing Resources with Customers

Most, if not all, SaaS companies have comprehensive resource pages on their websites. In most SaaS onboarding processes, the resource library is rarely introduced to new users. These resource pages usually include FAQs, tutorial videos, case studies, webinars, podcasts, and more. This helps users maximize their productivity while using the product. Therefore, it is extremely crucial to introduce these features to your users at some point during the onboarding process so that they can extract maximum advantage from the tool to benefit themselves. Every user is different, so having a variety of resources available allows clients to learn in the style they prefer, and on the timeline that works for them.

Avoiding the Avoidable

The primary cause for churn is mismanagement of expectations. Either they have been set too high, that results in overpromising and under delivering, or too low, that makes the user feel underwhelmed and unsure they should be paying you for your service.

The delay in achieving some sort of success in the initial phase is a risk factor. Users gradually lose interest and decline in usage activity. After the onboarding is finished, it is a great practice to summarize everything that has been covered and set up the next touchpoint.

Make sure CSMs are frequently in contact with users. Assess the users’ strengths, goals, pain points, and need for speed, while providing a consistent and cohesive experience. Such a combined effort is the right path to securing users enduring loyalty.

Shreesha Ramdas

CEO & Co-Founder, Strikedeck