Every SaaS (Software as a Service) company has a make or break moment. And it’s called customer onboarding.
How your team onboards new customers will determine whether you retain them or not.
Lincoln Murphy the Chief Customer Evangelist at Gainsight explains, “The first in-app experience your customer has with your product sets the tone for your relationship, and if it’s confusing, overwhelming, or otherwise puts up barriers to achieving success (or at least recognizing the value potential in your product), you’re in trouble.”
If you want your SaaS to maximize its growth, focus on spotting issues in your onboarding process. Here are seven strategies to get you started.
Related: Four ways customer onboarding is the secret to startup success.
1. Personalized welcome.
During offline engagements, a greeting is the best way to initiate interaction with someone new. And the same applies online. Welcome your customers with open arms.
Think of the very beginning of onboarding like an in-person event. You may have a registration table, swag bags and even a person designated to greet the individual.
Create a similar process online. Make it easy for customers to login into their accounts. Offer bonus material, like eBooks or extra integrations, to help them get started. And actually welcome the person to your brand.
Personalize the welcome message. Use the customer’s name or mention their particular company. Experian reports that “emails with personalized subject lines are 26 percent more likely to be opened.”
Below is an example welcome email from CoSchedule.
Customized messages are a nice gesture that shows the user that you actually value their business. Make a good first impression with a simple greeting.
2. Demonstrate the product.
In theory, your customer knows what your product actually does. But do they really know how to use it? Do they understand all the features? Probably not.
So, it’s up to your team to actually train your customer. Create short videos showing step-by-step on how your product works. Asana offers their customers an online video product tour.
Point out certain functions and explain how each one accomplishes a specific task. If you fail to highlight the purpose of your application, then the customer may not see the benefit of your product.
Moreover, customer success relies on the person using your product correctly. And if the customer finds it difficult, he or she may give up due to frustration.
Related: How a SaaS platform allowed this tech startup to turn customers into advocates.
3. Set milestones.
Some SaaS companies fall short by only showing their customers how their product works. The next step is to set milestones for your users.
To understand what goals to set, your team must know what your customer hopes to accomplish with your service. Are they seeking to increase Twitter followers? Do they want a 10 percent jump in conversions?
If you haven’t captured this information in the sales process, take the time to ask your customers. A simple email or survey will work fine.
Once you know their specific goals, work backwards to create logical steps to help them reach the outcome with your product. Posting a straightforward checklist within the app will keep the customer motivated and on track.
Train your customers to meet and exceed their goals.
4. Offer assistance.
Customer service is an integral part of any business. It keeps customers coming back for more. Plus, it enhances the entire experience.
What happens when a customer has a question? Or when they find themselves stuck?
Whatever you do, avoid leaving your customers to fend for themselves. Instead, provide ongoing customer support.
Add a live chat feature to your site. Or stick to old-fashioned email and phone assistance.
In a Desk.com post, the author recommends using “Twitter as a way to quickly and effectively offer help. If you’re not doing customer service on Twitter, you’re missing a big opportunity to reach your customers and their followers.”
Take a hint from Apple.
Problems will occur, and customers will want answers. Make sure you hire staff members that are friendly and knowledgeable.
You want people who will work with the customers, not against them. Because the only thing worse than no customer service is help from a rude service representative.
5. Send useful content.
Your SaaS product isn’t the center of the universe. Customers have external pressures that demand their time and attention.
Add more value to your customers’ lives by producing content that solves their problems. And don’t make every solution your product.
Be realistic. Dig deeper.
For example, your company may focus on selling accounting software to social media agencies.
Instead of offering just accounting advice, find issues that your audience faces. They may need hacks to organize their schedules or tips to finding a lawyer in their area.
Buffer lives this strategy. They sell social media scheduling software, yet provide blog posts about company transparency.
When you offer advice beyond your core expertise, you become a trusted advisor to your clients. And with more trust comes the potential to earn more sales.
6. Showcase success stories.
Products aren’t worth anything without a good success story. Customers want to know that your services are producing results.
Keep customers inspired by showcasing the success stories of other users. This is an effective way to amplify your brand and spotlight customer satisfaction.
“Case studies are a great way to tell the world how valuable your products or services are. They go beyond simple testimonials by showing real-life examples of how you were able to satisfy your customers’ needs and help them accomplish their goals,” says Kristi Hines, freelance writer, blogger, and social media enthusiast.
Here’s a great example from Kissmetrics.
Ask happy customers for their stories via a survey. Or retrieve data that uncovers your best customers.
Then, build a strategy to feature their stories. You may want to create a case study, shoot a three-minute video, or get your customer on a webinar to talk with other users.
No matter the format, emphasize the customers’ actions, your product solution and the results. This will give other users the confidence to produce similar results.
Related: 10 ways for software companies to keep customers around.
7. Follow up regularly.
The initial onboarding process is sometimes filled with glitz and glam. Customers are excited to use your product, and they even reach a few milestones.
However, for you to stay in business and to bring in that recurring revenue, your team must design a solid retention strategy.
To retain more customers, think of ways to engage your customers regularly. This may include sending follow up emails, calling them about service issues, or even asking them to join a referral program.
Filiberto Amati, founder of Amati & Associates, says, “Appreciate your clients/customers. Thank you notes, thank you gifts for onboarding new clients and/or discounts to your most loyal customers can speak volumes. Even something so simple as recognition on social media for your most loyal customers can be valuable.”
The key is to maintain a loyal customer base. Constantly remind users why and how your brand brings value to their lives.
How you approach the onboarding process will greatly impact your future revenue. So, strive to give your customers a better product experience.
Create personalized welcome messages to introduce users to your brand’s culture. Set reachable milestones for customers to achieve. And highlight success stories to motivate more customers to use your product.
Rethink onboarding. Invest in your customers.