When a new customer begins using your product, they are not completely convinced until they start realizing the value from it. Onboarding is not just about getting your customer familiar with the product. It is also about hand-holding the customer in the initial usage which fits right in their context. They need to start finding value from the product to make sure that their ROI is soon and easily recovered. Hence, onboarding metrics help you gauge if your customers are able to attain those results or not.
Customer onboarding is the phase when your customer is beginning to use your product for the first time after the purchase. Every company wants their customers to pass through this stage as soon as possible. This is because they want their customers to reach that stage soon where the product usage becomes a part of their regular routine.
Why to use onboarding metrics?
Onboarding is one of the primary phases in a customer journey. It is the time when all the promises made by the sales and marketing are put to test. The customer might already be quite apprehensive about the brand. This is the time when you prove your worth and start cementing your relationship with them. Hence, it has to be orchestrated skillfully for the customer to realize the value from the product within no time.
Using the customer onboarding metrics is crucial because only through this you can measure the efficiency of your onboarding process and identify the areas that need improvements. Onboarding is the most usage-sensitive time for your customer because only during this phase, most of the customers decide whether to continue with the product or not. If onboarding fails, there is no way you can expect your customer to continue their subscription for the next renewal cycle.
So, let us begin looking at the five most important onboarding metrics that reveal the efficacy of your onboarding process.
#1 Time to First time Value
You can give all the great experiences to the customer during the marketing and sales phases. You can have an outstanding interaction with them during the onboarding phase as well. But until they start finding value from your product, your onboarding is not considered as complete and successful.
First time value is the point during the onboarding phase when the customer realizes the value of your product in their business context. And Time to first time value is the time taken for them to reach that result.
Now, when you are setting up your product in their technical environment you may have to do the following:
- Make technical configuration of the product according to the customer’s business needs
- Integration with other software they use to collaborate seamlessly
- Setup users, assign roles and give access rights
While these are all part of the onboarding, they are not to be confused with the first time value. Even after doing all these setup, the customer has not yet realized the First time value.
They would do so only when, after all these setup, they start using the product in their production environment and reach the desired result for the first time.
Now, this desired result is contextual that can be measured in various ways, like cost or time saved in their workflow, or number of transactions executed in a given time. This measurable figure would give them a clear value that is attained through the product. And the amount of time taken to reach this measurable goal after the sales was closed is called the Time to first time value.
So, naturally, your goal for a successful onboarding is to reduce the onboarding metrics of Time to first time value.
#2 Free Trial to Paid Conversion
Making your product available for free trial is one of the most common marketing strategies in the subscription economy. While it gives you leverage in acquiring new customers, measuring its efficacy through this onboarding KPI to convert the free customers into paid ones is most important.
According to an industry-wide standard, a free trial to paid conversion rate of anything less than 25% is considered to be poor for this marketing strategy. It means, for example, out of 100 free trial users, if the number of customers who are deciding to purchase your product after their trial period is over are less than 25, then it means you need improvement in your product.
This is a shortest route in your onboarding process. Users, out of their zeal of trying your product for free, self-educate themselves about the product. This saves a lot of time and effort that you need to give them to provide initial training.
#3 Customer Progress
When you are providing the training to the customer, you need to divide the whole training package into different modules. Then for each of these training modules, you must measure the time a customer takes to complete them.
You can either follow the tech-touch engagement with them where you send them online material to watch and learn by themselves. Or, you can follow a high-touch onboarding where you personally give them the orientation of the product.
In both the cases, you must measure how much time you are allocating to the customer before they are ready to handle the product on their own. Your should drive your efforts towards reducing this customer onboarding metrics to the minimum extent possible. They must address their pain-points to make your training as effective and seamless as possible.
You can drill down to granular level to track the time needed for customers to complete each training module. Then you can measure how long do they take to revert with the relevant questions and how soon do they progress to the next module. All these time intervals is crucial in measuring this onboarding success metrics to finally derive the average onboarding time for a customer.
#4 Customer Response Rate
When customers start using the product, there are various points when they need your technical support to resolve their issues. Take regular surveys and feedback from the customers and log all the commonly raised queries in your customer success platform. Then measure the time you have taken to respond to each of them to resolve their issues. This metrics for onboarding process is crucial to decide the efficiency of your service and customer success processes.
Defining customer personas makes it useful for you to work with customers from different backgrounds. Your customers might be having a totally different mindset from the team that has built your product. They might start with using different features than what you expect.
By creating their personas, it would help you give them orientation of your product based on their skills and proficiency. For example, if a statistician is using your product, then your onboarding meeting with them would be different. And for a technical architect it would differ as well.
Customizing your onboarding process for different stakeholders and main champions of your customer’s organization would help you drive onboarding more effectively.
#5 Product Adoption Rate
This is one of the most important customer onboarding metrics you can measure for a successful onboarding. Product adoption rate allows you to measure the level of engagement your customer has with your product based on how often they use it and for how long. The sooner they start finding value from your product, the faster would be the product adoption rate.
There are many metrics to calculate the product adoption rate. Metrics like the Daily active users (DAU) calculate how many users are active on your platform on a daily basis. Likewise MAU calculates the same on a monthly basis. The more engaged they are with your product the higher the adoption rate.
As a customer success manager, your goal is to facilitate early adoption of your product in the customer’s business environment. All the rich efforts you put during the onboarding process would add up for them to adopt your product sooner. Only through a successful product adoption can you ensure that a customer remains subscribed to your business for long-term.
Best Practices for Customer Onboarding
Tracking the metrics for customer onboarding is one thing. Taking actions to streamline the process and give a greater customer experience is another. There are various measures you can take to optimize your onboarding process.
Standardize your process
Follow the same standards for all your new customers’ onboarding. This would make it easy for you to track the right metrics and introduce steps to optimize the process. If your efforts are inconsistent, then it will be difficult to know the areas of improvement.
Keep a human touch
Onboarding is not just about all the technical setup and getting your customer started on your product. It is also a phase when new relationships are built, sometimes even for lifetime. Hence, keep your introductions with new team members remarkable and think of it as a start of a new relationship for long-term.
Pay more attention
You might be following the high-touch or tech-touch engagement model for your new customers. No matter which model you choose, know that a new customer demands more of your attention in the initial times. You have to allocate more time than usual during the initial days. And as they grow old, you can resort to whatever engagement model that suits your bandwidth.
Onboarding phase is the time for your customers to actually evaluate your product. The more successfully you execute it, the higher the chances for them to adopt your product for their future use. Once product adoption has taken place, their subscription for the next tenure becomes natural. 31
The more accurately you can measure all the onboarding metrics, the better chances you have to improve the different areas. It is important to keep a granular view of your onboarding. Through that you can fine-tune every aspect of it by measuring them individually. Once you have executed an impeccable onboarding process, within no time, you would have deployed all measures that are initially necessary towards long-term customer retention.
Shivani is a talented CS manager with the skillsets to elicit, scope and manage end-to-end B2B SaaS project delivery. She has a keen interest in depicting her learnings in customer success by writing resourceful blogs and articles.
Published July 03, 2020, Updated May 15, 2023