What is customer onboarding?

Customer onboarding is the process by which you welcome new customers and get them acquainted with your product. 

It’s also the time when you can reduce any anxiety customers might have about your product and help educate them about how your product can best provide value.

What does customer onboarding mean?

Customer onboarding programs differ by product and target customer. Most often, they include the following steps:

  1. Welcome message: Once your customers sign up for your product, a welcome message is then sent out – typically in the form of an email with the most important information they need to get started. This may include product tips, links to customer support resources, and a direct link to log into the product. This may also take form as an in-app welcome message that customers see upon logging into your product for the first time.
  2. Signup survey: A survey during the onboarding journey helps to personalize the onboarding experience and ensure that customers are getting exactly what they need from a given product or service. With just a few questions, surveys can provide you with a better understanding of what your customers are hoping to accomplish, and which of your features make the most sense for their use case. 
  3. Product tour: An optional guided tutorial such as a product tour involves helping customers to navigate your product or service after purchase. With product tours, customers can acclimate quickly and they can also help to minimize the learning curve required before customers start benefiting from your product.
  4. Habit-forming messaging: Habit-forming messaging is a great way to encourage users to take a certain action. For example, if your product is one that can be accessed across devices, try sending out a series of messages that encourages your customers to implement your product across the devices they engage with the most. Doing so will increase the likelihood that your product will become part of your customers’ daily lives. 
  5. Invite others: Onboarding should include the option for customers to invite friends and colleagues to sign up for the product. This is especially helpful for teams working collaboratively and who may want to import all their employees to the application at once.
  6. Milestone messaging: Don’t forget to reward your customer throughout, congratulating them on accomplishing tasks along the way. It’s a small touch, but it encourages customers to keep coming back and using the product.
  7. Follow up as needed: Everyone learns at different paces and in different ways. As a final step, onboarding usually involves follow-up messaging with helpful tips and feature callouts that inexperienced users will find helpful. It usually steers customers back to helpful resources so that they feel supported no matter how long it takes them to get oriented with your product.

Why is customer onboarding important?

At Intercom we like to say that onboarding isn’t just a metric – it’s an outcome. It’s your chance to make a first great impression with your customers that will set the tone for your relationship.

After all, you’ve spent all this effort marketing to and attracting customers: onboarding is your first chance to prove that their investment in your service or product was worth their money and time. It’s the first bridge between making the decision to engage your offerings and being a satisfied customer.

“Customers need a reliable guidebook. Without one, they’re lost”

By ensuring your customer onboarding process gathers relevant information about your customer, helps dig into a deeper understanding of who your customer is and why they need your product, and provides the customer with the immediate information they need to get started, you’ll be well set-up to enhance the customer experience at each step of their journey. 

New customers are just like visitors to a new place: they want to know where things are, how to get around, and what attractions they should seek out. To that end, customers need a reliable guidebook. Without one, they’re lost. 

Your customer onboarding strategy should provide that helpful guide. If customers don’t receive up-front support and are left on their own following initial sign up, they are much less likely to use your product regularly or find value in it.

Intercom Engage