What is Customer Onboarding: An Ultimate Guide with Best Practices


Customer onboarding is an essential part of every business. It’s the process of introducing new users to your product and helping them get used to how it functions. Not to mention that it’s a vital part of the customer journey, and it’s essential to get it right if you want to keep your new customers happy (and coming back for more).

It’s no doubt that customer onboarding can be challenging for new businesses because it can take time to keep track of customers and their needs. You must have a plan for customer onboarding to stay organized and on top of your customer’s expectations. 

Hence, this article discusses the importance of customer onboarding and best practices for creating an efficient onboarding process.

What is Customer Onboarding?

Customer Onboarding

Customer onboarding is designing and delivering a series of initial interactions with new customers to help them fully integrate with a product or service. This practice helps a user get acquainted with your product and its features. 

Nowadays, it’s not enough to make your product available—users must be able to understand how to use it, what benefits they can expect from using it, and how to get support if needed.

Think about the customer onboarding process as welcoming new customers into your business. It’s all about making a good first impression and setting the tone for the customer’s relationship with your company. 

Moreover, a well-executed customer onboarding strategy not only helps you create new users but also keeps the ones you already have engaged. 

You can implement customer onboarding in various ways, depending on your business. You might choose to send a welcome email, or you could give new customers a call to walk them through the process. 

Regardless of how you approach it, customer onboarding can impact the long-term success of your business.

Pro Tip

Some of the best onboarding software to try out include Workato, Pipefy, Appian, and Kissflow.

When Does Customer Onboarding Begin?

The best time to begin customer onboarding is when the customer expresses interest in your product or service. This is when you want to start building a relationship with them and getting them familiar with your company and what you offer. 

Implementing the onboarding process at the point of contact ensures you capture customers’ attention and show them how your product can solve their problems.

You also want to make sure the customer feels valued. One way to do this is by offering a discount or free trial. This gesture shows that you’re interested in getting them on board and won’t mind giving them the incentive to win their trust. The more trust the customer has in your company, the more likely they will stick around and become loyal.

Why is Customer Onboarding Important?

There are so many reasons why customer onboarding is so important and they are:

1. Improves Customer Retention, Loyalty, and Satisfaction

Customer onboarding can help improve customer retention and satisfaction, making customers feel welcomed and supported. Happy customers are more likely to stick around and buy more products.

Additionally, the onboarding experience helps customers learn about the company’s culture and values, which can lead to a stronger connection to the brand. Customer onboarding research revealed that 86 percent of people are more likely to stay loyal to a business that invests in onboarding content, welcomes and educates them.

2. Improves Trial Conversions

Providing a guided, step-by-step process for new users makes it easy for them to get up and running as quickly as possible. This, in turn, reduces the chances that they’ll get frustrated and give up before they’ve had a chance to really explore your product.

Customer onboarding helps new users become acquainted with your product’s features and how they can be put to use. And when people see the value in your product, they’re more likely to convert to paying customers. So if you’re looking to improve your trial conversion rates, improve your customer onboarding process.

3. Reinstates Your Product’s Value

Customer onboarding helps reinstate your product’s value by ensuring that new customers have a positive experience. When you first sign up for a product, it can be easy to forget why you initially decided to buy it. At this point, you’re usually excited and eager to try it out. But as you use the product more often, that excitement fades away.

However, with customer onboarding, you can keep that excitement alive. You can remind your customers why they fell in love with your product in the first place and show them how they can get the most out of it.

4. Generates More Revenue 

Generates More Revenue

Customer onboarding helps your company by helping to increase the number of customers that patronize you repeatedly. When customers feel appreciated and welcome, they’re more likely to stick around and spend more money with your company over the long term.

Additionally, customer onboarding can help you identify and solve any customer issues early on, saving you from potential losses. As customers continue to do business with you, they’ll tell their friends and family about your company increasing your brand awareness and sales opportunities.

5. Reduces Customer Service Costs

Onboarding customers properly increases their chances of having a smooth experience with your product or service. And the less support they need from customer service, the less time and money they’ll spend addressing their issues.

It’s a win-win situation. Not only do you save money on customer service costs, but you also improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

6. Reduces Workload for Trainers and Technical Support

When customers sign up for a new product or service, they’re not always familiar with how it works. This can lead to many calls to the technical support team and endless email chains with trainers. 

With customer onboarding, you can avoid all that by providing clear instructions and troubleshooting tips right from the start. This removes the burden of trainers and technical support, which means customers can get up and running quickly and easily.

Additionally, customer onboarding can help you track user engagement and find out where people are getting stuck. Armed with this information, you can make updates and improvements to your product or service, which will help reduce the number of support requests you receive.

Customer onboarding can help you comply with legal regulations by ensuring that your customers are adequately informed of your policies and procedures and that they understand how to use your products and services.

Additionally, it minimizes the chances they will encounter any problems while using your products or services, which could lead to legal issues. This step can save you a lot of time and hassle down the road, and it can help protect you from any legal trouble.

8. Increases Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Customer onboarding is an essential part of any customer engagement strategy. By welcoming new customers and providing them with the resources they need to succeed, your brand can create a network of happy customers who will share their experiences with others. 

This gesture can benefit your company’s reputation and bottom line, as more customers will likely continue to buy your products or services.

6  Key Customer Onboarding Metrics to Measure 

1. Engagement Rate

When onboarding new customers, you want to ensure they engage with your product or service. After all, if they’re not engaged, they will not be sticking around for long. 

You can determine the engagement rate by the number of logins, social shares, or even the amount of time people spend on your site. If you’re seeing low engagement rates, it might be time to reconsider your onboarding process and see if there’s anything you can do to improve it.

2. Free Trial to Paid Conversion 

Free trial to paid conversion is the number of people who sign up for a free trial and then convert to a paid subscription. This metric is important because it shows you how effective your free trial is at getting people to sign up for your paid service. 

To have an excellent free trial to paid conversion rate, your free trial must be long enough for users to experience your product or service thoroughly. The ideal timelines for most free trials are seven days, 14 days, and 30 days.

3. Customer Progress

Customer progress examines how quickly and effectively customers are moving through your onboarding experience. By tracking customer progress, you can identify any areas where customers are struggling and make changes to your process accordingly.

4. Average Response Time

Average Response Time

How long does it take for you to get back to your customers? This question is vital during customer onboarding. Ideally, your average response time should be less than an hour. You can use help desk software to track your response time and see how you perform.

5. Retention Rate 

The retention rate is a key indicator of how well you’re doing at onboarding new customers. If you’re not retaining your customers, you need to do a better job of getting them up to speed. Another reason could be that they don’t find your product useful.

6. Time to Value

How long does it take for a customer to get up and running with your product or service? Ideally, you want this to be as quick and painless as possible. The longer it takes, the more likely they will give up and go elsewhere. 

Customer Onboarding Best Practices

1. Define Expectations and Set Milestones

When onboarding a new customer, setting expectations and milestones is important. This practice ensures that everyone’s on the same page and knows what’s expected of them. Also, it helps to measure customers’ progress and ensure they’re accomplishing something. 

To set expectations and milestones, start by defining your customers’ goals. Conducting a customer satisfaction survey can help you figure out what they are trying to achieve. 

Next, identify what you expect from the customer. This includes things like completion rates, customer engagement, and so on. Set milestones for the customer to achieve, these milestones should align with their goals, and you should define what happens if they don’t meet those milestones. 

2. Choose a Reliable Customer Onboarding Software

Customer onboarding software makes your life easier as it automates repetitive tasks and enables you to track progress. When choosing customer onboarding software, it is essential to consider a few key factors. 

For example, the software should be easy to use and have a user-friendly interface. This will help you minimize the time needed to get started and ensure that your new customers easily use the software. 

Customer onboarding software is only as reliable as the company that provides it. So research various customer onboarding software providers before committing to their services. Check user reviews, compare features, and ensure the software is regularly updated. Some software like Workato and Kissflow offer free trials, so you can try them out risk-free to ensure they meet your needs.

3. Customize the Experience

Customizing the onboarding experience for your customers shows that you care and are eager to understand their specific needs. It demonstrates your flexibility and willingness to adapt to their preferences. More importantly, it shortens the learning curve, which is especially important for first-time users. 

So how do you customize the experience for this user group? Start by identifying who they are. They must have filled out forms on your website detailing their names, contact information and preferences. A good onboarding software stores this data and uses it to tailor the onboarding experience to their needs. 

Appian is one of the best tools for personalizing the onboarding experience. It comes with an Intelligent Contact Center™ that stores and showcases all your customers’ data at a glance.

4. Introduce Your Product With a Short Video

Video production should be at the top of your onboarding checklist. A short video is an effective way to show off your product quickly and entertainingly. Plus, it helps you bypass those all-familiar product descriptions that can be dry and boring. 

It would be best if you wrote a script before filming. Having a script will ensure that your video has a clear purpose and message. Keep the script short and to the point. 

Next, you’ll need to choose a filming location. This can be anywhere that makes sense for your product. For example, if you’re selling a new type of toothbrush, you might film it in a bathroom or at a dentist’s office. Take multiple shots, from close-ups to wide shots. 

You can use video capture software like Loom and Adobe Suite to troubleshoot common issues if you sell software or digital products. After filming, edit your video. Add music, graphics, and any other finishing touches. Then review it and share it with your customers.

5. Answer Your Customers’ Questions With Chatbots

Chatbots are a great way to provide quick answers to common questions, and they can also help you collect necessary information from your customers, like their contact information and preferences. There are a few things to consider when choosing a chatbot for customer support. 

One key factor is the type of customer support that you need. Some chatbots are designed explicitly for answering customer questions, while others can provide general customer service functionality.

Another critical consideration is the chatbot’s ability to handle multiple customer support channels. Many chatbots can handle voice, text, and even video customer support interactions. This enables your team to provide support through the best medium for each customer. 

Finally, it’s essential to determine the budget for implementing a chatbot. 

Check out the live chat software available to discover the best choice for your budget.

6. Create Webinars to Let Customers Master Their Skills

Webinars can be a powerful way to help your customers master their skills. Hosting a webinar gives your customers a unique opportunity to learn from experts in a hands-on setting. This can help them improve their skills and become more knowledgeable about the topics they care about. 

Moreover, webinars can help your customers connect with other people who have the same interests as them. This can help them find new resources and networks, enabling them to build relationships with people who can help them achieve their goals. 

Ensure your webinars are short. Nobody wants to sit through a long, dull session, so try to keep them under an hour. Also,  make room for customers to participate in the discussion by asking questions and giving feedback. After the webinar, provide resources for customers to keep learning on their own.

7. Follow Up After Onboarding is Complete

After onboarding customers successfully, it’s essential to follow up with them to ensure they’re getting the most out of your product or service. This practice helps you gauge their satisfaction with your product or service. Then you can determine where to make improvements.

You can send an email thanking them for their business and welcoming them to your company. At the same time, ask them to fill out a short survey about their experience with your product or service. Keep it brief and straightforward. Don’t overwhelm them with too much information at once.

8. Monitor and Analyze the Results

After rolling out a new customer onboarding process, you must ensure that it’s working how you intended. That’s why it’s essential to monitor and analyze the results. There are a few different ways to do this. You can track the number of new customers completing your onboarding process and compare that to those who dropped off or never even started.

You can also look at how much time it takes for customers to go through your onboarding process and see if there are any areas where you can improve the flow. And finally, you can assess whether or not your new customers are reaching their goals after completing your onboarding process. This is a great way to determine whether or not your strategy is effective.

Final Thoughts

These standard onboarding practices improve the customer journey and make it more exciting. However, your preferred onboarding software will make a lot of difference. There are many advantages of using software to automate and streamline the onboarding process. For example, it helps you save time by automating repetitive tasks, reducing the risk of human error, and personalizing the process.