Every software product is different — it’s possible your software is unlike anything your customers have seen before. The earliest stages of your business’s relationship with customers is crucial because it’s when customers are learning about your product. The quality of your customer onboarding experience could be the difference between keeping that customer and losing them. Not only does an efficient onboarding process create a positive first impression for the customer, but it also empowers them to get the maximum possible value from their product.
To ensure an outstanding onboarding experience at your B2B SaaS organization, it’s important to follow B2B customer onboarding best practices. Onboarding should extend beyond a simple welcome email and product demo video. It should be more like an ongoing process that guides the customer toward success. This certainly includes actions like sending a welcome email or product demo video, but it also involves other steps like providing excellent customer support and giving customers access to extensive self-service resources.
Let’s break down some of the most significant B2B SaaS onboarding best practices in more detail:
Customer Onboarding Best Practices
Here are a few of the most valuable user onboarding best practices to keep in mind when you’re creating your onboarding experience:
1. Automate What You Can
Efficiency is key throughout your customer onboarding process. It’s important to create a streamlined, frictionless experience for your customers as much as possible. One way to accomplish this is to automate parts of the customer onboarding process. For example, you can use a solution like Gainsight Customer Education to enable personalized learning paths that automatically guide new users through the appropriate customer onboarding materials.
2. Power Your Customer Success Management with an LMS
An LMS can benefit your customer onboarding strategy in more ways than just automating learning paths. Most customer onboarding programs make use of a large amount of training content. This content can be very difficult to keep organized by manual means, but a disorganized onboarding program usually does not result in a positive experience for the customer. With a learning management system, you can house all your learning content in a central, online repository where customers and customer success team members alike can access it conveniently whenever and wherever they need it.
3. Use Blended Learning
Blended learning is a training strategy that utilizes some aspects of online learning and some aspects of traditional, in-person learning. Many companies have adopted blended learning approaches to customer onboarding in response to COVID-19’s substantial effect on workplace culture. Blended learning can be a great compromise between old and new onboarding styles that leverages the benefits of remote technology without completely removing the face-to-face element that some learners value highly.
4. Optimize for Mobile Devices
There was a time when most or all of the customer onboarding process happened in a conference room or at the customer’s desk. However, this is no longer the case. Many of your customers have busy schedules and are constantly on-the-go. These customers need to be allowed equal access to onboarding resources. Optimizing your onboarding experience for mobile devices like phones and tablets is critical if you want to attract the large percentage of your customer base that prefers to use mobile technology.
5. Keep the Momentum Going
Don’t waste any time getting the onboarding process started. Customer onboarding should begin the minute your customer signs up for your product or service. You should complete the first step of your onboarding strategy, such as sending an onboarding email, right away. After you begin, keep the onboarding process moving along efficiently and don’t lose momentum. The customer should always know which step to complete next and should always have robust resources easily available to them.
6. Pair Technology and Humans
There are many different kinds of technology tools you can use to improve your customer onboarding experience. For example, you can use an LMS to provide your customers with online access to comprehensive learning materials and offer each learner a personalized experience. Combining these technology-based benefits with a human touch can result in a highly-effective customer onboarding process. This is where a blended customer onboarding strategy could potentially come into play.
7. Define Expectations
When you acquire a new customer, it’s very important to communicate expectations up front. If a customer doesn’t understand what the onboarding experience is going to be like, or if the experience they have is different from the one they were expecting, it can result in a very jarring first few interactions with your brand. This is, of course, not a good outcome. Defining expectations right away can create a smoother onboarding experience because it ensures the customer understands the process. Likewise, listening to the customer’s expectations can also help your customer success team understand how to personalize their onboarding experience more effectively.
8. Make it Fun
Don’t forget to inject your onboarding experience with a bit of fun where you can. Varying the content formats you use in your onboarding materials can make it easier for customers to stay interested and engaged. Instead of asking your customers to read through long onboarding manuals or other text-based materials, give them videos to watch or interactive infographics to explore. You can use an LMS to power many different kinds of onboarding content like these examples.
This is just a selection of some of the best customer onboarding best practices. There are many ways for B2B SaaS companies to improve their customers’ onboarding experiences.
Customer Onboarding Metrics
1. Time to Value
Time to value (TTV) is one of the most important customer onboarding metrics. It represents the amount of time it takes a new customer to learn how to use your product or service well enough to realize its full value. The lower your business’s average TTV, the better. Low time to value means your onboarding process is functioning efficiently and your customers are able to start getting value from their products quickly. Customers who experience a short time to value are much less likely to churn. A higher time to value usually indicates there is some aspect of your onboarding process that could be functioning more smoothly.
2. Support Tickets
The number of support tickets your customer service team receives can also serve as a valuable indicator of your customer onboarding program’s level of success. Your new customers should have plenty of resources to which they can turn before they need to resort to contacting customer support. For example, you can use learning management software to give your customers online access to content that can help them become self-sufficient product users. If customers are not able to get the information they need from the materials you’ve made available to them, they will likely submit a customer support ticket. The number of these tickets coming in is therefore a good estimation of how many customers are finding your onboarding materials ineffective.
3. Customer Lifetime Value
Customer lifetime value (CLV) is another useful customer onboarding metric. CLV estimates how much money a customer will spend at your business from the time they sign up to the time they end their relationship with your company. High customer lifetime values often result from the best customer onboarding experiences. Tracking customer lifetime value is helpful for measuring whether or not the improvements you’re making to your customer onboarding program are having positive effects throughout the lifetime of the customer.
4. Customer Engagement
Customer engagement is a metric that measures how customers are interacting with your onboarding materials. Using highly engaging materials in your onboarding program can improve both the quality of customer’s onboarding experience and the amount of information they retain from the materials. If customers are not actively engaging with your onboarding content, it could indicate that your onboarding program is not set up effectively. In these cases, it’s usually prudent to investigate further to figure out where the problem lies and how you can address it to improve engagement. Some learning management software, like Gainsight Customer Education, provides customer success teams with extensive analytics tools that you can use to track customer engagement.
5. Course Completion Rate
Similar to customer engagement, course completion rate can tell you how many of your customers remain interested in your onboarding materials all the way until the end. If customers are not completing certain sections of your onboarding process in large numbers, that’s a clear sign that a problem needs to be remedied. Customers could abandon onboarding courses for various reasons, including finding them too difficult, confusing, or irrelevant.
Customer Onboarding Software
You can use customer onboarding software to make the process of improving customer onboarding much simpler. B2B customer onboarding can get complicated quickly because B2B software products are some of the most challenging products to learn to use; taking advantage of all the customer onboarding technology at your disposal can help you navigate this challenging onboarding environment.
Learning management systems like Gainsight Customer Education are some of the best customer onboarding solutions. You can use LMS features to aid many parts of the customer onboarding journey, but there is a difference between learning management software and true customer onboarding software. Dedicated customer onboarding software is specifically designed to streamline customer onboarding processes. A learning management system, on the other hand, can serve a variety of user enablement purposes — including (but not limited to) B2B customer onboarding.