Customer Service

Customer onboarding guide for 2024 (+6 benefits and examples)

Titilola Shittu
May 13, 2024

Great products are a dime a dozen these days. But with more users abandoning them within the first few months, a fantastic product alone won't guarantee success. A strategic journey transforms hesitant sign-ups into engaged users and loyal customers

This guide unveils the 6 key benefits and real-world customer onboarding examples to show you how to turn clicks into long-term customers with a winning customer strategy.

What is customer onboarding?

Customer onboarding means guiding a new customer into your product, service, or platform. It bridges the gap between a customer deciding to buy and becoming a regular user who sees the value.

The customer onboarding process refers to taking the customer through the initial steps and providing them with the necessary education, support, and user-friendly tutorials to ensure a smooth and successful transition, assimilating new clients, defining how products and services work, and ensuring a positive customer experience.

Think of it like welcoming a new member to a club. You show them around, introduce them to the key features, and help them feel comfortable using everything available. In customer onboarding, you want new customers to get the most out of your product or service.

What does a customer onboarding process look like?

Customer onboarding process.

Customer onboarding processes refer to the roadmap that takes new customers from signing up to becoming regular, satisfied users. Here’s a breakdown of the onboarding process:

  • Introduction and welcome: Welcoming the new customer and providing an overview of the product or service, its features, and benefits.
  • Account setup: Assisting the customer in setting up their account, completing necessary forms, and configuring their preferences or settings.
  • Training and education: Providing training materials, tutorials, or live demonstrations to help the customer understand how to use the product or service effectively.
  • Resource sharing: Offering access to user guides, knowledge bases, FAQ sections, or online communities to enable self-service and ongoing learning.
  • Support and assistance: Providing dedicated support channels, such as email, phone, or live chat, to address any questions or concerns the customer may have during the customer onboarding process.
  • Feedback and follow-up: Gather feedback about their customer onboarding experience and follow up to address any remaining issues or concerns.

The moment customers sign up for a product or service is crucial, as it's essential to deliver value to them as early as possible after sign-up.

The roadmap involves the initial setup needed to build a nurturing process for users to access and navigate your product or service. Then you demonstrate how your offering solves their problems and benefits them. The goal is to get them to use the core features and experience the product’s true potential.

The focus of customer onboarding should be on user experience. A well-designed customer onboarding process is engaging and helps users succeed quickly. This translates into higher customer satisfaction and retention in the long run.

Why is customer onboarding important?

Customer onboarding is important for several reasons: 

  • Sets the tone: The onboarding process is a new customer's first impression of your product or service. A smooth and helpful experience builds trust and confidence, while a confusing or frustrating experience can make them question their decision.
  • Increases product adoption: Effective onboarding equips customers with the knowledge and skills to use your product effectively. This gets them started on the right foot and to see the value of your product.
  • Boosts customer loyalty & satisfaction: When customers can quickly achieve their goals with your product, they're more likely to be happy and satisfied. This satisfaction translates to customer loyalty, keeping them as customers for the long term.
  • Reduces churn: Customer churn refers to customers who stop using your product. A strong customer onboarding process can significantly reduce churn by ensuring customers get the most out of your product and see its benefits.
  • Increases revenue: By retaining existing customers and promoting product adoption, a successful customer onboarding process directly translates to increased revenue for your business. Satisfied customers are more likely to make repeat purchases and recommend your product to others.

Customer onboarding is an investment that pays off in the long run. Investing time and resources into creating a seamless and informative customer onboarding experience, will set your customers up for success and ensure they have a positive relationship with your brand.

6 benefits of an effective customer onboarding process.

Customers see the value of your product/service quicker.

A well-designed customer onboarding process helps customers quickly understand and start using your product or service, allowing them to realize its value faster. This can lead to higher customer satisfaction and reduced churn.

Customers comeback for more after being treated right.

When ensuring that customers can fully leverage the capabilities of your offering from the start, effective onboarding increases the likelihood that they will continue using it, leading to better customer retention rates.

If done well, it can help to reduce turnover and increase the overall customer lifetime value (LTV).

Shows customers how to properly use a product/service

Customer onboarding provides an opportunity to educate customers on best practices, advanced features, and use cases, which can increase product adoption and encourage customers to explore and utilize more functionality.

During your sales process, explain qualifying factors and reiterate the value of your product and service.

Reduced time spent having to connect with a human support team

Comprehensive training and resources during onboarding can make customers more self-sufficient, reducing the need for ongoing support and lowering associated costs.

Regularly review the onboarding resources your customer success team use to sync with customers as they progress through the process, making sure to intervene in case they have any problems.

Makes a good first experience.

As the customer's first significant interaction with your product or service, a smooth and well-designed onboarding experience can create a positive first impression, setting the tone for a long-lasting customer relationship.

Stay on the competitive side.

A seamless and superior onboarding experience can differentiate your business from competitors, providing a better customer experience and influencing customers' purchasing decisions.

Ideas for a great customer onboarding strategy.

We’ve covered the importance of following customer onboarding best practices. While the specifics will differ, a common customer onboarding process might look something like this:

Sign-up process.

The moment customers sign up for a product or service marks a critical point in the customer onboarding process, emphasizing the need to deliver value early on. An onboarding strategy can use gamification or milestone-based rewards to engage users and motivate them to complete key milestones in the signup process.

  • Award points for completing signup steps (e.g., filling out a profile, and connecting social media).
  • Show a progress bar to visualize their journey towards completing onboarding tasks.
  • Create a friendly competition among new users based on points earned.
  • Break down customer onboarding tasks into achievable milestones (e.g., watch a tutorial, or complete a practice task).
  • Grant access to new product features upon completing milestones, creating a sense of accomplishment.
  • Award badges for completing milestones, adding a fun and collectible element.

The small daily challenges encourage continued exploration of the product. The language learning app, Duolingo, has the best customer onboarding process.

Users earn points for completing daily lessons, unlock new skills as they progress, and compete with friends on a leaderboard.

This approach makes learning engaging and motivates users to stick with the program.

Duolingo onboarding process

A successful customer onboarding experience leads to happier and more satisfied customers. Engaged users are more likely to stick with your product in the long run. This strategy can be a powerful tool to create a memorable and effective customer experience.

Welcome email.

A welcome email is a crucial first touchpoint in your strategy. It sets the tone for the relationship and guides new users towards getting the most out of your product or service and helping you manage expectations.

A great welcome email for customer onboarding has a personalized greeting and uses the customer's name to create a warm and welcoming tone.

Thank them for signing up and acknowledge their decision to choose your product. Briefly remind them of the value proposition and how your product solves their problem. 

Outline the next steps they can take to get started. This could be activating their account, watching a tutorial, or completing a basic task.

Include a clear and compelling call to action that encourages them to take the next step. Maintain a friendly and enthusiastic tone throughout the email to create a positive first impression.

Here's an example of an automated welcome email from Simpu

Simpu's sign up process

This email is personalized, highlights the app's benefits, and outlines clear next steps with a strong call to action. It also provides valuable resources and ensures the customer feels supported. By following these principles, you can create a welcome email that effectively kicks off your buyer journey.

Personalized login view.

A personalized login experience can be a powerful tool in your customer onboarding strategy. It goes beyond simply remembering usernames and passwords, creating a more engaging and relevant first impression.

You can personalize the login process with a welcome message. Greet users by name, creating a sense of warmth and recognition.

Based on user data or signup information, you can showcase features most beneficial to them. Visually represent their progress through the customer onboarding journey, keeping them motivated.

A personalized experience feels more welcoming and grabs the user's attention. Highlighting relevant features encourages users to explore the product's full potential. Personalization demonstrates that you value each customer as an individual.

Netflix personalizes the login experience by displaying a user's profile picture and name alongside rows showcasing recommended content based on their viewing history.

This not only welcomes them back but also encourages them to jump right back into their favourite shows or discover new ones they might enjoy.

Personalized Netflix view

Effective personalization requires leveraging user data responsibly and ethically. A personalized login experience creates a more welcoming and engaging journey for your customers.

Interactive product tour.

An interactive product tour for customer onboarding, guides users through the key features and functionalities of your product in an engaging way. It goes beyond static screenshots or text instructions, promoting active participation and a deeper understanding.

A product tour walks users through the product interface, highlighting essential features. Interactive elements like tooltips, pop-ups, or clickable elements allow users to explore features at their own pace.

The tour encourages users to take specific actions within the product, reinforcing learning. Tours can be tailored to different user roles or goals, offering a focused experience.

Users can grasp the product's functionality faster, leading to quicker adoption. A well-designed tour feels informative and helpful, not intrusive. Interactive elements solidify understanding and retention of key features.

Slack, the popular communication platform, offers a fantastic example of an interactive product tour. Upon signing up, users are taken through a step-by-step customer onboarding process that highlights core features like creating channels, sending messages, and using emojis.

The tour uses tooltips, and pop-ups, and encourages users to perform actions like sending their first message, solidifying their understanding.

Slack interactive product tour

These elements create an interactive product tour that effectively educates and keep your customers engaged, leading to a smoother experience and increased product adoption.

In-app guidance.

In-app guidance refers to various interactive elements embedded directly within your application to assist users during their onboarding journey.

It provides contextual help and support exactly where and when they need it, promoting a smooth and self-directed learning experience - implementing a knowledge base system.

This guidance is presented at the moment of need, eliminating the need for users to search for help elsewhere. Breaking down information into bite-sized pieces prevents overwhelming users with too much information at once. In-app guidance feels intuitive and unobtrusive, enhancing the overall user experience.

Customers complete tasks independently and easily resolve issues they might have, creating a sense of empowerment. Effective in-app guidance can decrease the need for users to contact customer success for basic questions.

Asana, a popular project management tool, utilizes in-app guidance effectively. When users create a new task, a contextual tooltip appears, explaining how to assign a teammate, set a due date, and add comments.

This just-in-time guidance empowers users to learn the ropes as they go, without interrupting their workflow.

In-app guidance

In-app guidance elements create a more intuitive and supportive onboarding experience for your users. This empowers them to learn independently, navigate the app with confidence, and derive greater value from your product.

Feedback/follow-up emails.

Feedback and follow-up emails are crucial tools in your onboarding strategy. They extend the conversation beyond the initial welcome, gather valuable insights, and ensure users are getting the most out of your product or service.

These emails can ask targeted questions to understand user experience and identify areas for improvement. It can nudge users to complete remaining onboarding tasks or explore specific features. Regular communication builds trust and an ongoing relationship.

Types of client feedback emails and onboarding specialist should employ:

  • Post-signup feedback: Sent a few days after signup to gauge initial impressions and identify any roadblocks.
  • Feature-specific emails: Targeted emails highlighting specific features users haven't explored yet and explaining their benefits.
  • Progress check-in emails: Checking in at key points in the customer journey to see if users need assistance or have questions.
  • Nurture campaign: A series of emails spaced out over time to keep customers engaged and informed about product updates or new features.

Dropbox, the cloud storage platform, utilizes a well-structured follow-up email sequence during onboarding. They might send an initial email after signup welcoming the user and offering a short video tutorial on uploading files.

A later email could prompt them to explore features like file sharing or mobile access. This approach keeps users engaged and gradually introduces them to the full range of Dropbox's functionalities.

Feedback and follow up email

By incorporating client feedback and follow-up emails, you can create a more interactive and personalized experience. This not only gathers valuable user insights but also demonstrates your commitment to their success with your product.

How to measure the success of a customer onboarding strategy.

Measuring the success of your customer onboarding process is important to ensure it's effectively guiding new users and achieving your desired outcomes. Here are some key metrics to track customer onboarding success:

Percentage of customers that complete the same process.

This measures the percentage of users who complete all onboarding steps or tasks. A high completion rate indicates users are engaged and following through with the customer onboarding process.

Imagine it as a big group of people who all went through the same steps to start using something new. When we can track the number of people completing these steps, it's like getting a thumbs-up from them, saying, "Hey, we're interested, and we want to see what this is all about!"

It tells a company that the process we've set up is clear and easy to follow, which is super important because if it's too complicated, people might give up and not bother with our service at all.

Time spent to complete an onboarding process.

Tracks how long it takes users to finish onboarding. A shorter timeframe suggests a smooth and efficient onboarding process. 

If it's a short amount of time, it could indicate that they skimmed through the process because it smooth and simple. But if it takes too long, it's like they got stuck somewhere or took a wrong turn.

That's not good because it might mean your process is too complicated, and people might lose interest or get frustrated along the way thereby creating a poor onboarding experience.

So, it is important to keep an eye on this helps us make sure that signing up and getting started is as quick and easy as possible for every customer.

Feature adoption by customers.

Monitors which features users are actively using. This helps identify areas where onboarding might need improvement to encourage the exploration of valuable functionalities.

Companies that don't onboard their customers miss a valuable opportunity to for customer engagement. It would be a waste of all those great features to not tell your customers how to use it!

Similarly, in a business, we want to know which parts of a service people are actually using. This helps us figure out what's popular and what might need more attention. If everyone's using the messaging feature but ignoring the calendar, maybe you need to make the calendar more appealing or easier to use.

Daily/weekly active users (DAU/WAU).

Tracks how many users are actively engaging with your product on a daily or weekly basis. Increasing DAU/WAU indicates you have the right onboarding process to build to a sustained product usuage.

Having a high number of active users for a service could me lots of people are sticking around and using your service regularly.

This is important because it shows that people are finding value in what you offer and are making it a part of their routine.

Customer churn rate.

Measures the percentage of customers who stop using your product within a specific timeframe. A low churn rate suggests a business doesn't have a successful onboarding experience for users to find value and keep them coming back to the service provider. It's like losing customers over time.

In a business, we call this churn rate. If lots of customers are leaving, it's a sign that something might be wrong. Maybe the pizza isn't as tasty as it used to be, or maybe the service isn't as quick as you planned it.

Similarly, in a business, if lots of customers are stopping using our service, it's a red flag. You need to figure out why they're leaving and try to fix it so you can keep our customers happy and coming back for more.

Net promoter score (NPS).

Surveys users on how likely they are to recommend your product to others. A high NPS indicates satisfied customers are more likely to stay with you long-term.

This is important because word-of-mouth recommendations can bring in new customers and help your business grow. A high net promoter score tells us that our customers are satisfied and likely to stick around.

Customer satisfaction score (CSAT).

Send messages, surveys to your customers inquiring about their experience with your onboarding process. This provides valuable feedback on confusing or frustrating areas. You'll want to track metrics with a customer engagement platform.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) measures how satisfied users are with the different steps in your onboarding process. By asking users about their experience, you gain valuable insights into whether they found the onboarding materials smooth or encountered any challenges.

If users report feeling confused or frustrated during signup, it signals areas that require improvement to enhance overall user experience, creating a mutually beneficial relationship. Addressing these issues ensures a smoother and more enjoyable signup process for everyone involved.

  • Task success rate: Tracks how often users complete key tasks within the product. A high success rate indicates onboarding effectively teaches users how to use your product. You can retain your customers and strengthen business growth.
  • Support ticket volume: Tracks the number of support tickets submitted by new clients. A lower volume might indicate a well-designed onboarding process that reduces the need for external assistance. 

You can gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of your strategy by tracking these metrics. This allows you to identify areas for improvement, optimize the onboarding process, and increase customer satisfaction, product adoption, and retention.

Below is a customer onboarding checklist you can save to refer to as you create your onboarding program. 

Customer onboarding checklist

Customer onboarding builds positive and long-lasting customer relationships. A well-designed onboarding process equips new users with the knowledge and confidence to use your product effectively and see its true value.

You can create engaging product tours, gather valuable user feedback, and gain the insights you need to optimize your onboarding for maximum impact. Don't wait any longer to start creating a customer journey that converts.

Titilola Shittu

Content Writer
Titilola enjoys writing content that resonates with a target audience. With an interest in product marketing, she understands the importance of using data to provide actionable insights that help with informed decisions. You can find her listening to music or reading African literature when she's not doing anything marketing-related.

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