10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Customer Onboarding

Do your churn rates keep you up at night? You’re not alone. 

And that might not be a bad thing. In fact, research has long indicated that decreasing churn by as little as 5% can increase revenues by as much as 95%

So it’s definitely worth losing sleep over because churn could mean the difference between a company that scales exponentially and one that’s forced to shutter its doors. 

But how do you keep customers engaged and happy? 

One of the best ways to ensure that your churn rates stay low and your retention rates stay  high is by investing in good CX and customer support. And one of the most important elements of good CX is good onboarding

What is customer onboarding?

Customer onboarding is the process of getting new and existing users acquainted with your product. Or is it? 

It’s often mistakenly thought of as answering these questions: 

  • What does this product do?
  • How do I use it?

It needs to address these questions instead: 

  • What does this product do for me?
  • How can I use it to make my life easier?

Onboarding isn’t just about showing users around your product through guided tours or help center articles, it’s a full view of how you’re going to demonstrate exactly how your product solves their problems. 

Without deeply understanding these problems, your onboarding is just going to remain generic and uninspiring. 

Designing an onboarding experience for success

But what’s good onboarding, anyway? And how do you nail it?

You need to come up with a well-thought-out strategy to get your customers from the signup stage to the ‘success’ stage. 

If they don’t have an immediate feeling of accomplishment the first time they use your product, the battle’s already lost. 

Designing an onboarding process around this strategy is crucial. In their first couple of interactions with your product, your goal shouldn’t be to show them every little thing it does, it should be to facilitate their first rewarding experience using it

Why your onboarding isn’t delivering results

So, there are a couple of common reasons why your onboarding process is leaving customers cold. 

It’s convoluted

Your only goal is getting your users to their first ‘aha’ moment. If you design an onboarding sequence that is too convoluted and complicated, you’ll lose their interest before they get there. 

This is why it’s so important to constantly evaluate your onboarding process to check for sticking points or unnecessary steps. 

Onboarding isn’t a one-and-done sort of process, it needs to be evaluated and adjusted on an ongoing basis. 

It’s too narrowly-focused

Onboarding isn’t something that starts the first time a user logs in to your product and stops the minute they complete the automated tour. 

It’s something you need to think of before they sign up (with a nicely designed sign up page laying out the initial steps, for example) and after they log off for the first time (continuing to introduce them to new features in a robust way). 

It’s too conspicuous

Your UI really needs to be able to do all the heavy lifting here. 

Your application needs to be designed so intuitively that onboarding doesn’t have to be an elaborate, loud way to convince users to stick around. Your product needs to do that all on its own. 

So spend some time really thinking through how to make your product as intuitive and easy to use as possible. Then build your onboarding to supplement it. 

10 easy ways to improve your onboarding

If you’ve identified what you’re doing wrong in your onboarding process, it’s time to move on to figuring out how to get things right. 

We’ve put together 10 simple steps you can take to make sure your onboarding is actually leading to customer success rather than customer churn. 

Start onboarding immediately

You need to view onboarding as something that begins even before a user has signed up for your product. Users aren’t willing to wait around for too long — you need to immediately communicate value and give them actionable steps to follow through on. 

This will set expectations early on and facilitate a faster and smoother journey towards that all-important ‘aha’ moment. 

You can do this in a number of ways including: 

  • A well-designed signup page that lays out the first few steps after signup.
  • A small in-app chat that directs users to resources when they sign in.
  • A responsive customer support center that is easy to get in touch with and available to answer a user’s questions. 

Plan ahead

You need to think of onboarding as one cohesive exercise and plan steps ahead according to the data you’re collecting about how people are converting and using your product. 

Users should never be left hanging and must always have a clear understanding of what the next step is, so make sure to communicate this in a series of emails, product tours or chats that work as one integrated flow. 

For particularly important clients, it may even be worth doing this handoff personally to make the transition between the sales team’s work and the CX team’s work smoother. 

Share the right information 

And never too much of it at once. 

It’s crucial not to overwhelm new users, so it’s best to share small nuggets of information spread out over several onboarding steps. 

For example, Heap found that splitting the signup form across multiple small steps led to an increase of about 5% in conversion rate. 

Progress bars are good business

Ever experience the uncomfortable feeling that arises from not knowing how much of a task you have left to complete? 

You wouldn’t want to do that to your users now, would you? 

A lot of the time, onboarding is a multi-step process and it isn’t always clear when you’ll see light at the end of the tunnel, so it’s important to clearly communicate how far users are in the process. 

You can do this visually, with, for example, a progress bar or checklist featured prominently on the dashboard that updates as and when new steps are completed. 

You can also automate emails to send out with every new step checked off the list. 

Gamify and incentivize to win!

A slightly more elaborate take on the point above is gamifying your onboarding, which is getting more popular in SaaS lately. 

Gamification makes the onboarding experience more fun, engaging and interactive, leading to those sweet, sweet dopamine hits. 

Designing your onboarding around clear ‘levels’ and incentivizing moving from one to the other will make it as sticky as a video game, which will naturally lead to more people completing the process and becoming activated. 

Track every stage of the process

One of the most important ways to increase activation and retention rates is to study how users are actually using your product and design your onboarding around those pain points or frustrations. 

This will also allow you to avoid one-size-fits-all onboarding flows that companies tend to create when they’re working with bad information — or no information at all. 

Some things to keep an eye on:

  • The average length of time users spend in your product.
  • The average number of sessions per user per month (or whatever time interval makes sense for your company).
  • The ways in which users are navigating within your product.
  • The points at which they are abandoning it. You can use session replays software to measure rage clicks to give you some indication of this, for example. 

Keeping track of these metrics will give you good data to work with when creating your onboarding process. 

Throw one-size-fits-all onboarding flows in the trash

When it comes to onboarding, taking the time to personalize it makes a whole lot of sense if you want to increase conversion and retention rates. 

It may be stretching it too far to say you have to create personalized onboarding experiences for each and every user (you definitely don’t and probably can’t), but catering onboarding specifically to different tiers or types of users can be immensely beneficial. 

For example, it stands to reason that users on your free tier and users on your pro tier will need slightly different onboarding steps because they won’t be using your app in exactly the same ways or have access to the same features. 

Don’t lose the human touch 

This is related to the point above: self-service solutions and automating everything may seem like a nifty little cheat code. After all, if you can save some time and effort, why wouldn't you?

We advise against it!

While self-service solutions (like a really comprehensive help center) and automation (like a few — a few — chatbots) definitely have their place in a well-rounded onboarding flow, the key word here is ‘well-rounded’. 

No matter how tempting it is, you cannot rely on automation and self-service to do your job for you, because they don’t work as well as reaching out personally. And sometimes, that’s necessary. 

What are some ways in which you can do that? 

We’ll tackle them now: 

Offer to set up one-on-one sessions

Reaching out at key points of the journey to make sure that your users are getting onboarded in the right way is a great idea to increase engagement and humanize your brand. 

You’ll need to figure out the best times to reach out by using the data you’ve gathered about how people are actually using your product. You’ll then need to work backwards from that to figure out their pain points and stumbling blocks. Reach out personally at those points and offer to guide them through the process.  

If you’re onboarding for a particularly technical product — or even otherwise, really — offering to set up a one-on-one onboarding session is also a great way to ensure that fewer users abandon your product.

Solicit feedback 

How do you know if your onboarding process is actually working for your users? 

Sure, you can track them and interpret the metrics, but you can also just reach out and ask them if they’re happy with it. 

There are a few ways you can go about gathering feedback: 

  • You can reach out to users directly in an email.
  • You can set up a short survey to trigger each time a user uses a feature for the first time.

Get creative with it! 

Most users won’t have the time or inclination to leave large paragraphs of feedback, so make sure you’re designing your survey to be as user-friendly as possible.

Frame it in the form of yes or no questions or ask for feedback using emoticons to give your users a quick and easy way to respond to you. 

Cobrowsing for better onboarding 

Noticing a lot of users abandoning your onboarding process and never logging in again? 

You’ll need to take action — and quickly. 

If you’re bleeding users at crazy rates, you’ll also need for this action to be immediate to cauterize the wound.

A good way to do that? Invest in some cobrowsing software.

What is cobrowsing and how can it help your onboarding?

Cobrowsing (the 'co' is short for collaborative, in this case) is a term used for customer support software that allows a support agent and a user to browse the same tab together with multi-cursor screen control.

Cobrowsing enables a customer support agent to remotely control a user's screen. The agent can then help a user with onboarding or other support requests.

Most cobrowsing solutions also include features to highlight text, draw on the screen and click around collaboratively. Agents can also submit forms on behalf of their users, like signup forms, for example.

The level of interactivity cobrowsing gives your support agents is unmatched. They'll no longer have to verbally talk a user through a step or how to solve an issue during one-sided screen sharing sessions.

With cobrowsing, they can control a user's screen to complete that step or solve that problem themselves.

The ultimate goal of cobrowsing is to replace some of the counterproductive automation that has taken over a lot of the customer support workflow.

Cobrowsing's main benefit is that it allows you to personalize your customer support to a high degree, which is exceptional at improving customer retention. Recent studies indicate that businesses utilizing cobrowsing have seen an 83% increase in year-on-year revenue growth.

Cobrowsing with Fullview Live

Fullview Live's cobrowsing can help you improve user engagement, onboarding and adoption rates.

But don't take our word for it, read this customer testimonial instead.

Our cobrowsing solution helped LicenceOne increase user engagement rates 2x and improved their onboarding and adoption rates in the process.

That's because, unlike other cobrowsing solutions on the market, Fullview Live: 

  • Doesn't require any plugins or downloads. It only takes two lines of code to implement in your app and your users don't have to do anything at all.
  • Automatically pulls all your user data into your Fullview dashboard with our API integration.
  • Is fully GDPR compliant. We're one of the only cobrowsing companies based in Europe, so all data is stored within EU borders.
  • Offers better, smoother cobrowsing with rrWeb. Users will no longer have to choose which window or tab to share before cobrowsing; it automatically starts in your app.
  • Has really easy, built-in ways to look up users and see their status — online, offline or idle.
  • Includes Fullview Console, which is a side panel in-call where your agents can see user steps, network and device info.

We offer both a freemium and a pro tier, so if you're serious about improving your onboarding process, there's no reason not to take a chance on us.

Ready to take your onboarding from blah to 'aha!'? Then sign up, already. Still not convinced and need us to cobrowse with you? Book a demo.
Author

Shifa Rahaman

Content Marketing Manager

Contributor