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What you should know about SaaS onboarding

Meera Kanani
2 min read

Customer satisfaction is always a top priority for companies. In fact, 81% of companies believe that customer service is the key thing that differentiates competitors. 

Once you do the hard work of selling your product to your new customer you need to ensure you are creating an onboarding experience that sets them up for success. An effective onboarding process helps your product demonstrate its value to your customers during the first interaction and beyond. Top SaaS onboarding strategies can, therefore, make a huge difference in terms of your company’s success by increasing your conversion rates, improving your customer journey, and eventually providing a base of loyal customers.

What Is SaaS onboarding & Why is having an onboarding checklist important?

SaaS onboarding refers to the first few interactions your customers have with your software after they purchase your product or start their trial period. It involves creating a positive experience for your customers by showing them the value of your product from before they start using it, all the way through the learning process.

A strong SaaS onboarding process can increase conversion rates and reduce customer churn rates by ensuring your customers see the value of the software you’re offering. 

Poor onboarding, on the other hand, feels a bit like a kid standing in the corner shouting “look what I can do!” It focuses on explaining the product’s user interface rather than focusing on the product’s relevant functionality to the individual users. We have all experienced a series of pop-ups walking us through the UI of a product. They often get dismissed and forgotten about since they don’t answer the questions we have, which is: What is the best and easiest way for me to achieve my goal with this product? 

A strong onboarding process will answer this question for you. It will consider why you are using the product, what your role is, and provide a clear experience outlining how and where to achieve your goals. This can take many forms, from video tutorials, tooltips or in-product checklists but regardless, it should be accessible when and where the user needs it.

A typical SaaS onboarding process for user activation

Onboarding typically occurs during a user’s first interaction with a product. With the goal being, to introduce users to the product’s features with various components and assets (videos, photos, GIFs). It is often viewed as a one-time occurrence, during a customer's first interaction with the product. 

In-product onboarding is often coupled with human touch-points and external support libraries that aim to give users all the information they need to understand the product. 

But remember, users don’t care about your features, they care about your functionality and how it relates to them!

Tips for a smoother and more effective onboarding experience in SaaS

A more effective onboarding process is known as “everboarding,” This strategy works to help customers find their moments of activation by using a guided approach to learning beyond just their first interaction with the product.

Here are some tips to improve the onboarding process and create a smoother customer experience.

Activate customers faster with integrated, dynamic workflows

Instead of having a stagnant workflow or ephemeral pop-ups, use dynamic checklists that are embedded into your product, to make learning feel like it’s part of the product experience. 

For example, instead of offering a single pop-up that shows users where to find a function, you can explain exactly how and why they need that feature to achieve the value they are looking for. This in-product help should continue to be supplemented with help center articles but at least the path to value is made clear, in app!

Use customer segments for personalized experiences

Consider for a moment a data analytics software used by teams to communicate trends within the organization. The analysts who create the dashboard and input the data would have a different onboarding experience than the executives who learn from the insights. 

Segmenting your customers allows you to onboard the different groups based on their goals.  This has a twofold benefit on your onboarding process:

  • Customers are less confused because they aren’t receiving tutorials on aspects of the software they don’t use
  • Customers will quickly understand how the software delivers them value, increasing the product stickiness

Continually provide support throughout their customer journey

Beyond the initial interaction, product guidance continues to be needed as new features are released and as users goals change. Check-in regularly to ensure your product is still meeting their needs and if you can introduce them to any new features. Incorporating opt-in help throughout your product is a great way to ensure you are providing the support they need, when they need.  

Additionally, you can check-it and provide:

  • An overview of new, relevant features
  • Newsletters showcasing interesting ways your software can be used
  • Feedback gathering opportunities on new and existing experiences

Improve your SaaS onboarding strategy with everboarding

Switching away from an onboarding strategy to a strategy of everboarding doesn’t have to be complicated. Apply your principles of onboarding beyond the first interaction, make help readily accessible and think through on-going assistance that may be relevant for users throughout your product.

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