Customer Success | 5 MIN READ

90 Day plan for SaaS Customer Onboarding

The first 90 days of a customer relationship (onboarding) are crucial for optimizing use, adoption, and derived value from a SaaS service.

Rohan Sheth
Feb 1, 2020


As a SaaS provider, you know the importance of ensuring customer success. If your SaaS doesn’t provide measurable value quickly, customers will cancel and look elsewhere for a solution. Ever-increasing competition and a monthly subscription revenue model make cancellation a simpler option, so SaaS providers have to sell their benefits continuously to ensure customer satisfaction. The first 90 days of a customer relationship are crucial for optimizing use, adoption, and derived value from a SaaS service.


Think about the investment it takes to earn one new customer. Moving from contact to prospect to qualified opportunity and finally to the customer takes time and money. SaaS businesses recoup this investment over time, and it often takes beyond 90 days to do so. This period, however, is also when most SaaS customer churn occurs. The risk is not just losing a customer but also netting zero return on investment.

Onboarding is the key to customer success

To reduce churn rate, SaaS providers have to build a customer onboarding process that encompasses everything from gaining insight into customer goals to ensuring a high adoption rate. While this onboarding process cannot occur overnight — rushed onboarding increases the risk of low usage — it is important to find small wins for a customer that show the present and future value that a product holds.

Here is a breakdown of the first 90 days of onboarding, with goals at each stage:

First 30 Days

At this stage, your customer is new and likely has high hopes for your SaaS. During this time, it is crucial to collect and verify customer data to ensure that the product is a good fit and that onboarding is aligned with customer goals. It’s also essential to provide a quick win for your customer, to encourage continued productive use of your SaaS.

Your onboarding efforts during this first 30-day period should include a series of onboarding-focused communication, either email or messages through your app. This communication is vital because it creates the first steps of a customer’s path. It also can alert new users of areas where other customers have found success or struggles.

Other retention-focused activities during this first month include:

  • Starting basic segmentation. Know where your customer is coming from, and the desired amount of contact needed or anticipated.
  • Delivering continuous value. Educate customers on ways that your solution can help them quickly. Go for that low hanging fruit and demonstrate the value of your product early on and often.
  • Setting up usage metrics. Use is key to customer success, but not every SaaS product needs to be constantly used to create value. Find that optimal amount of usage and measure it on an ongoing basis.
  • Establishing a method of directly monitoring customer sentiment. Surveys, Net Promoter Score, and follow-up emails help know your customer’s opinion on your product.

Next 30 Days

Ensuring customer success during the first month is a tall order. You may lack the necessary customer data and feedback to steer them in the right direction. During the second month of the customer relationship, SaaS companies can use the data obtained during the initial onboarding to put a plan into action that leads to customer success.

A key component of onboarding is customer segmentation — the process of putting customers or users into different buckets. It is not absolutely necessary to fully tailor onboarding for each individual customer, but a system of segmentation allows you to direct support and onboarding resources efficiently.

Segmentation can be based on factors such as:

  • Company size. Larger customers may have more complex onboarding needs, and smaller ones may require more handholding.
  • Industry. Understanding the customer’s industry helps drive success, especially when looking at other customer success stories.
  • User role. Onboarding for different users may require different tactics to ensure continued value.
  • The customer desired “touch level.” Some customers want to explore the products on their own, and others want training and education.

In addition to using the data collected in the sales period and the first month as a customer, businesses should use this second month as a time to continue to deliver value and also begin documenting customer outcomes.

Concluding 30 Days

By now, your customer relationship has begun to uncover truly valuable insights, assuming your customer has been using your SaaS, and you’ve been providing the right onboarding experience for the customer. This last 30-day period is crucial because It is also the stage where most churn occurs. Churn at this stage can result from several things, including the misalignment of marketing and customer needs, and poor onboarding experience during the first two months.

By this period, you should have established dashboards to provide customer transparency. Use the KPIs produced from customer use to ensure an appropriate level of adoption. Insight into your customer journey can be facilitated with a customer success solution, such as SmartKarrot. SmartKarrot’s dashboards provide comprehensive views of customers, allow for easy touchpoint management, so your segments are treated appropriately, and enable automation of tasks, alerts, and actions. With these tools, onboarding becomes seamless and trackable. SmartKarrot also enables SaaS providers to calculate customer health scores quickly. These scores combine crucial data from multiple systems and touchpoints, reflecting use, and customer derived value. SmartKarrot not only provides a platform for effective SaaS onboarding, but it also continues along the customer journey to ensure customers are on the right path to success.

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Originally Published February 1st, 2020, Updated February 1st, 2020

Rohan Sheth

Rohan has over 11 years of experience in client services, marketing and hospitality field. Previously, he was head of digital marketing for a hi-tech mobile application. Rohan is driven by new challenges and the possibility of making an impact on individuals and businesses.

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2 years ago

Malcolm Kazinsky

This is a really good plan, much better than my current practice. I’ve just been tracking usage and making sure customers know where to find help. I don’t lose too many newer customers but following a strategy like this would benefit greatly I feel. Early segmentation is a good idea and will allow me to understand the customers needs going forward.

2 years ago

Dennis O'Reilly

This is a really nice, comprehensive plan. My plan is a lot more simple and mostly focuses on curated emails offering tips based on the customers usage. Sending out a survey is a great idea and I think I’ll give it a try soon, hopefully it gives us some additional insight into the goals our customers have.

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