It is a well known fact that any new practice takes 21 days of repetition for it to become a habit. Onboarding for SaaS is no different than that. You might be looking at the customer from within the scope of your own company or product. So, while using your product sounds quite natural to you, it might not be the same for your customer.
Your customer is totally new to your business environment. The product you sell to them has its own minimum required time that is needed for a customer to become accustomed to it. Your customer might be already busy with their regular work life. And it takes their special consideration for your product to blend it naturally in their daily workflow.
Hence, the onboarding for SaaS should take this fact into account. During the onboarding you need to keep in mind that the customer should immerse into your product without the slightest difficulty.
Onboarding and its common challenges
Onboarding is the initial process through which you drive your customer to make them familiar about your product. The purpose of onboarding is helping new users get started with your product and stay engaged. It is the process of guided steps and resources that helps integrating your product to a customer’s routine as easy as possible.
There are different intentions your customer might have that drove them towards your product. Few might have purchased it out of impulsive decisions. Others would have followed their curiosity to find out how your product can add value to their business.
One thing that is peculiar with SaaS products is that customers are free to discontinue their usage at any point of time. So, if they don’t find a delightful experience during the initial phase itself, most likely they won’t renew their subscription for the next month.
There are chances that the buyer may not be the end user of your product. Hence, the sales team might have achieved success in selling the product. But until the onboarding process considers the pain points of the end-user, your product adoption would not take place.
That’s why onboarding success is so important. It is the initial stage when your customer evaluates your product and decides whether to continue with your product or not.
Ensure onboarding success
Having mentioned the importance of onboarding, let us look at the strategies that you can implement for a successful onboarding experience. You can find tons of material online about how to implement an onboarding process but they are usually too out of context. In this article I am going to talk about five simple techniques that you can deploy for an onboarding for SaaS product, no matter what business niche you come from.
#1 Start with simplest
Your product might be very simple or complex based upon the kind of solution it provides. Nevertheless, make it a thumb rule that you don’t tell about all of its features all at once. Make a proper sequence of the features that you are going to introduce to a new user. Start with the most simple feature which is the cornerstone of your product.
Users take time to absorb the UI and the placement of different metrics or features on your dashboard. Start with explaining the most common feature that they will be using for their entire lifetime with this product.
You should have a set of initial features that you will introduce to them after which it is necessary to pause. You don’t want to overwhelm your customer by telling them everything in the same go. They should get some time to try their hands on the initial set, the most common ones, after when they should return for more.
#2 Customize touchpoints
You need to have different kinds of touchpoints to serve different customer segments. For the customers opting for a basic plan with limited features, you can use the tech-touch onboarding process. It means your online help material or video tutorials should be enough for them to get started. It also depends on the complexity of the product. For simple products, tech-touch onboarding is quite useful.
For the large enterprise customers, who have opted for advanced plans with multiple users, you need a high-touch onboarding. You will have to interact with different stakeholders from your customer’s organization and demonstrate the value of your product.
#3 Access the user behavior
The onboarding for SaaS process goes for weeks and sometimes for months depending upon the complexity of the product. It is crucial during this time for you to monitor the usage pattern of the users and identify their challenges. This is how you can approach them for giving solutions. Or you can recommend them other features which they haven’t started using yet.
You will have to identify every gap which you can fill to facilitate their deeper immersion and enhance their product experience. You can not execute the same generic onboarding process for all kinds of customers. The more contextual you make it, the more value your customers will get.
#4 Tie them to the goals
One of the best strategies for onboarding success is to set up goals your customers would achieve in future through your product. As a customer success manager, it is your prime responsibility to demonstrate how your customer would achieve their business goals during their entire journey of product usage.
It can be anything from saving the cost to generating new revenue for their business that they can measure during a specific time period. This will enlarge their vision towards long term usage of the product and would prolong their evaluation period.
#5 Give a human touch
Finally, it is important for you to make them feel privileged while starting this relationship with your organization. During this time, you are laying the foundation for a long-term and fruitful relationship you are going to build. Hence, send them a personal note thanking them for choosing you over your competitors.
You can also introduce to them the key persons behind the product. This way they would feel more personally connected to your organization. In the end, nothing can replace the value of human interaction. The quality of communication you hold during the initial phase will act as seeds for them to build trust.
Onboarding for SaaS is the most important phase of the customer journey. This is where all your customer’s doubts and apprehensions about your product are put into test. Hence, you need to take every single measure to make them realize that they have made the best decision by purchasing your product. 21
Along with the design of the product, it is the series of psychological and emotional perceptions they create while interacting with your brand that finally adds up to the customer experience. The promises made during the sales and marketing phases should come to reality during the onboarding phase. And only when this great experience becomes consistent in the long run for every customer, can you look forward to a long term thriving performance of your business.
Rakhin has over 10 years of experience driving business development and client services. In his prior roles, he stayed close to customers to understand their requirements and help them achieve their business goals. He is passionate about customer success.
Published June 30, 2020, Updated March 02, 2023