SaaS Customer Onboarding

Once a SaaS company closes a sale, the next step in the customer journey is to begin with the customer onboarding process.

During any SaaS customer onboarding process, the main objective and goal are to identify the customer’s milestones and challenges they expect to achieve with the product so that the CSM can prepare a working roadmap that would set the customer on the fastest route to reach their desired outcome.

The SaaS customer onboarding flow usually has the following touchpoints in place:

  • Kickoff Call: Critical call whose primary purpose is to align with the customer on what their desired outcome is, to give them a high-level overview of what they could achieve using the product, and what are the steps within the onboarding that will lead them there
  • Product Training: One of the most important steps in the onboarding is product training, the main objective is to get the customer to become acquainted with the product and push for a feature adoption across the main features the product offers and that are most important to the customer
  • Product Setup + Onboarding Review: The idea is to make sure the customer has everything they need in order to get the most value out of the product, so any product setup that is required in order to maximize the value should be done by this stage, then the customer can move onto the ongoing stage of the customer journey
  • In a nutshell, SaaS customer onboarding is the stage where the customer learns firsthand about the product and how they can use it in order to reach their desired outcome. For the CSM, this is the stage where they get the opportunity to position themselves as the customer’s strategic advisor.

Why is SaaS Customer Onboarding essential?

At this stage, the excitement of the customer after buying your product is at its highest and that is why it’s the perfect time for CSMs to take command of the relationship with the customer and guide the customers through a customer onboarding process flow that will lead the customer to reach their desired outcome. This sets the prime opportunity for CSMs to position themselves as the strategic advisors of their customers.

Moreover, at this stage, the customer will realize if they made the right decision in purchasing the product and if the product can actually deliver the value they were looking to get.

For long-tail/smaller customers, it is important that the CS department develops a low-touch SaaS user onboarding that won’t necessarily require a CSM to onboard the customer but the customer will have access to everything they need to know in order to get going with the product, thereafter, if the activity starts to pick up and there’s growth potential, then a CSM can jump-in to continue leading the process.

A successful onboarding will determine if the customer will churn or will continue to use the product and grow their business along with their LTV, so it is essential to have a proper process for all types of customers.

What are the risks of not having a proper SaaS Customer Onboarding?

If the onboarding is not executed correctly, this can severely hurt the relationship with the customer and can hinder the chances of the customer renewing.

Why is this? - Well, this means that the customer didn’t go through the right steps in order to receive enough value from the product, thus failing to reach the customer’s desired outcome. And when this happens, the likelihood of them renewing or even using the product is extremely low.

These metrics can be used as indicators to understand if the onboarding process is/was executed properly:

  • Active users: Has this number increased or decreased during the onboarding?
  • Feature adoption: Are new features being used as the onboarding progresses?
  • Feature adoption rate: How close is the customer to fully adopting all of the features included in the plan, is it only one user or many?
  • Feature retention: What features are the ones being used constantly by the users when they log in?
  • User retention rate or DAU/MAU: How many of the total users are returning to use the product?
  • Login frequency: How often does the customer use the product?
  • User flows: Are the customers following the right user flows in order to maximize the value they receive?

How do you create great SaaS Customer Onboarding?

The most important thing to keep in mind is the customer’s Desired Outcome, using this as your main compass will help the CSM to build a proper execution strategy and to customize the process in order to meet the customers’ expectations and needs.

In addition, this detailed 10-step guide contains all the main items a CSM needs to go over in order to execute a great onboarding process - it’s important that the CSM has clearly identified what are the objectives that need to be achieved in each step of the way, both by the CSM and the customer and to have clear metrics in place that will enable the CSM to proactively identify arising problems before they actually happen.

It’s important to mention that not every customer is the same, that’s why it’s up to the CSM to identify the key components and milestones that should be added to their SaaS customer onboarding checklist in order to keep optimizing the SaaS customer onboarding process flow to increase the chances of success and revenue growth.

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