Customer Onboarding Steps and Examples: Comprehensive Guide

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  • Ad ID: 1134

  • Added: September 21, 2021

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So, you’ve got a customer. Congratulations! But what do you do next?

Customer onboarding is the process of welcoming new customers and helping them get acquainted with your business. It’s vital to customer retention because it helps your customer understand how they can best engage with your company.

In this guide article, we’ll discuss why customer onboarding is so important for building customer loyalty, what components and steps make up successful customer onboarding, and who all should be involved in the process.

We’ll also show you a couple of wonderful examples to make sure you get the idea of customer onboarding right.

Read on!

Customer Onboarding — Definition

Customer onboarding is the process of proactively guiding new customers through your product to get them started and stay engaged. It is a series of steps and resources that make it easy for customers to incorporate a new product into their routine.

You want your customers to be familiar with the product they’ve bought and understand how they can get the most out of it.

Since customer onboarding focuses on enhancing the customer experience and fostering relationships, it can be applied to any business model, including SaaS-based businesses.

The primary goal is to improve the lifetime value of your product for the customer. Provide them with information and engagement that will help them derive success from their purchases.

This video offers some insights and advice about the customer onboarding process.


Why Is Customer Onboarding Important?

For any business, successful customer onboarding familiarizes the customer with your brand. It sets expectations for your ongoing relationship with your clients.

The customer onboarding experience has a direct impact on your churn rate. If done well, you can increase your retention rate and the overall customer lifetime value.

A study revealed that most companies lose up to 75% of their new users within the first week. Furthermore, up to 60% of your free trial prospects never return to make a purchase.

You want your user onboarding process to be action-oriented and customer-centric. An action-oriented process ensures that your customers engage more deeply with the product.

It’s also better to learn by doing, so they are more likely to see the value of the product if they become familiar with how to use it.

Here are a few more benefits of maintaining a strategic customer onboarding process flow.

Make More Revenue

Acquiring a new customer can cost 5x times more than retaining the existing ones. Besides, it takes double the effort to attract a new user than maintaining an old one.

Properly onboarded customers are more likely to stay and continue doing business with you and sustain your revenue stream.

Reduce Customer Service Costs

Although the heart of customer onboarding is customer service, it goes beyond delighting your customers.

A successful onboarding process will ensure that your customers have a seamless transition from knowing your product to using it. They are less likely to encounter issues in the early stage of adoption.


It drastically reduces the overhead costs of the customer support department while improving the overall efficiency.

Minimize the Churn Rate

Let’s say your business’s average cost of contract sign is $5000. If just one customer leaves, you lose that much in annual recurring revenue.

But that’s not all. You also lose the opportunity to up-sell or cross-sell to that customer.

The Gartner Group studied that 80% of the company’s future income can come from 20% of the existing customers.

But it’s sad to see that B2B companies put only 20% of their marketing efforts towards customer retention.

Customers who go through a positive onboarding experience are more likely to stick around, becoming a valuable asset for your company.

Get Free Word of Mouth Branding

Word-of-mouth marketing can either make or break your business. It is about using happy customers to promote your business.

When your customers are happy with your product or service and satisfied with your after-sales service, they are more likely to spread the good word about your company.

A positive onboarding process increases the chances of customers becoming brand evangelists.

Read also: The Customer-Centric Model — Your Definitive Guide for 2021

How Do You Onboard a New Customer?

Here is a checklist of seven customer onboarding best practices to consider.

i. Know Your Customers

You should know your buyer persona or customer profile in and out. This will give you a good understanding of your customer. Begin by collecting the necessary information from your client.

Find out all about their pain points, unique struggles, and the challenges they are facing. An ideal way to obtain this data is with a questionnaire or a briefing document.

Don’t just focus on features — also pay attention to the outcomes that your audience is looking for with your product.

This information will help you provide a successful customer onboarding process.

ii. Clarify Expectations

Your customer should know what to expect before they purchase your product.

While trying to sell them, lay out the qualifying factors for using the products. Having higher expectations than what you can offer will only leave them in disappointment.

Customers must be aware of things like how long tasks can take. Make sure that you are specific about the level of support you can provide.

iii. Show Them Value

While giving them a product demo, you must have already shared the value your product can offer. However, you need to again emphasize the value it will provide for their unique cases.

Show them how your product or service will address their pain points and how they will get benefited.

It’s always nice to have a personalized touch — include specialized training or offer documentation that will be valuable.

iv. Keep Communication Flowing

After you have familiarized them with your product, make sure you still remain in touch with them.

You can use email to send them guides and tutorials, software upgrades, and other relevant information.

v. Create Customer-Centric Goals

Every customer’s needs are unique. Allow them to define their success or goals, and help them create measurable milestones.

Your only focus should be on creating a positive experience for your customers.

vi. Measure Your Success

Ultimately, the customer onboarding best practices end at measuring your own success.

Identify friction points, track key metrics, and gather customer feedback to get insights into what’s working for your business and where to improve.

Read also: Ace the Sales Process: 9 Strategies Nobody Ever Follows

Who Should Be Involved in the Onboarding Process?

The user onboarding process for SaaS-based businesses should be an organization-wide effort. It isn’t the responsibility of just one department or team.

Let’s look at some of the stakeholders that can participate as a part of your customer onboarding workflow.

sales dashboard

Product Management and Development

No one understands the complexity of your product better than your developer and product management team. They know the ins and outs of your platform and how they can be applied for specific use cases.

It’s a good strategy to involve them in the onboarding process to gather feedback and make the product even more intuitive and user-friendly.

Customer Success

The responsibilities of a customer onboarding specialist include helping customers with the installation and configuration of the product, minimizing time-to-value for users, and addressing the customer’s tech concerns.

Customer Support

Customer support basically supervises the product management and customer success team. They are there to help find any weak link in the onboarding process and help resolve issues at the earliest.

In fact, they are also responsible for providing feedback to the product and customer success team to help them further enhance their performance.

Technical Support

The purpose of a tech support team is to provide documentation and training to an onboarded customer. If your product or service involves a lot of technical knowledge, this team can provide in-depth information and access to a knowledge base.

Read also: 16 Powerful Customer Retention Strategies to Stop Customer Churn

Components of Customer Onboarding

The purpose of user onboarding is to help customers feel acquainted with your product or service. However, there is no single way of doing it.

It varies from the specific need case of each user. Here are some key components of new customer onboarding for SaaS as well as other business models.

1. Welcome Email

Your welcome email is the first contact with the customer after they have signed up for your product or service.

After the first login, this is the establishing point of contact between you and your customer. Thus you need to use this opportunity to set communication expectations.

A few elements to include in your welcome emails:

  • Don’t forget to thank them
  • Don’t overload them with information — keep it simple
  • Offer resource materials such as blog content or video tutorials for them to access

Here’s an example of a welcome email from DocSend —
Customer onboarding - welcome email

The best part of this welcome email is the prominent call-to-action button, as well as, the step-by-step breakdown of the user onboarding process.

2. Product Tutorial

Once they have signed up, you need to create a guided tutorial to take them through the setup process, step by step.

As part of the product onboarding process, guided tours and tutorials are there to support your users in the long run.  Depending on the nature of your product, you can offer:

  • An in-app product tour or walkthrough
  • Tutorial options alongside different features
  • A ‘getting started’ checklist to keep the user on track

One point we’d like to make is that going through product tutorials, ideally, should be the customer’s choice. It’s important that this part onboarding process can be skipped — sometimes, a customer may be familiar with the product or service.

Unskippable product walkthroughs can be a barrier to them having a good onboarding experience.

3. Documentation

Customer onboarding - documentation

Notion‘s knowledge base and documentation are clean and visual. Users can filter through different categories.

Documentation is basically the resource section where customers can try to find solutions to common issues themselves.

These materials allow them to troubleshoot their own issue before they reach out to customer support.

All the documentation also needs to be easily accessible and understandable.

4. Follow-Ups

Ongoing communication is critical to keeping customer engagement alive. It makes an onboarding customer feel valued.

The best thing about it is that you get an opportunity to personally understand where your customers are getting stuck.

You can get a ton of valuable feedback and, at the same time, help them get more value from your product.

5. In-App Notifications

Notifications can play a crucial role in enhancing your customer’s overall onboarding experience.

Notifications are a vital contact point between you and your user, with the potential to keep your customers engaged.

You can send push notifications to update them about the newly added feature or give small tips on making the best use of your product. It’s also the simplest way to ensure that your brand has a good recall value in your customer’s minds.

6. Data Import

Many marketing automation tools need to integrate with other third-party applications to expand their functionalities.

In such cases, customers are required to import their data to be able to connect with other systems.

Do You Know What All Customer Journey Entails? Take a Look Here

Wrap Up

An exceptional customer onboarding process focuses on the customer.

But the journey doesn’t end there. Customer onboarding best practices are constantly evolving. It’s a strategy that needs to be adapted and optimized consistently. As your company scales, so will your services. The customer onboarding workflow should reflect.

Since an onboarding process involves a lot of steps, it’s important to have a system in place that can take care of the routine tasks. With every new client, there will be new emails to send and appointments to schedule.

Implementing a CRM software system (we recommend EngageBay!) can help automate a lot of the recurring tasks. You can automatically update leads, send timely notifications, respond to service requests, and do so much more.

Try EngageBay’s free-forever plan, or contact us for a demo.


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