Main illustration: Seth Lunsford
Even if your customer onboarding has a solid foundation and a proven thesis, it’s important to continually assess the contexts that informed the design in the first place.
Your customers don’t stay the same, so neither should your onboarding.
Nowhere is this clearer than the signup flow. Getting a savvy, technical engineer to sign up is completely different than getting whole teams of marketers, engineers and customer support reps, all of differing abilities, signed up to your product.
To illustrate this, I thought it would be useful to bring you through how our customers have evolved over time, how we adapted the design of the our signup flow to match these changes, and what we learned along the way.
1. Moving beyond a technical customer base
When customers sign up, it’s almost always better to let people keep moving and exploring.
Now that we had excellent data to show our CSV importer was working, we added even more ways for users to get started with Intercom – with Mailchimp, Mixpanel, Stripe, Segment etc, with our conversion rate continuing to grow over the following months.
- Define clear metrics and review them often. Weekly meetings with data analysts allow you to review the performance of the signup flow continually and use the insights to inform your design decisions.
- Your customer support team is a great resource to understand your users. Without digging deep into customer conversations, there’s no way to find the blind spots in your signup flow. By diving into customer conversations, you’ll find find powerful and useful insights to work with.
2. Accounting for a more diverse user base
Not everyone has the ability to complete every step. Unblock them by providing ways to loop in colleagues and teammates.
Asking a VP of Marketing for a CSV file is unlikely to be a successful signup path
Getting a company to sign up for your product is different from getting an individual user to sign up – it requires many people across departments to get set up and to start seeing the value your product can provide.
As larger, more complex teams signed up, we needed to design new ways to accommodate their workflow. We redesigned our “Ask a colleague to install” flow (where non-engineers could send installation instructions to a colleague) so that new signups could:
- create a secret link and invite any teammate via any communication channel (Slack, Hipchat, Google Hangouts, mailing lists)
- open it up to a group, a role, or even the whole company, and didn’t have to to know exactly which individual to invite
- send teammates directly to a specific setup guide step that needs to be completed instead of letting them figure it out themselves
- Onboard a whole company instead of just individual users. For big companies, asking a VP of Marketing for a CSV file is unlikely to be a successful signup path: he won’t have the CSV file, and he may not even have the company credit card to finish the sign up. By enabling the collaboration of the whole team in signing up, you can unblock people from tasks they can’t finish and allow people choose their own ways to collaborate with teammates.
3. Showing people value as early as possible
By letting people experience Intercom right away, we gave new users that first taste of success so they kept coming back.
Our signup process has always followed a familiar path: install Intercom and import data, start a trial, create an account, and start using the product.
But as our customer base evolved, the people signing up were increasingly not the right people to perform the install or import options – they may want to explore Intercom and play around on their own first. For them, the signup experience was a significant roadblock.
We redesigned our signup flow so that, after entering an email address on our marketing site, people could jump straight to creating an account and start their free trial. Once they’ve selected a product and entered their credit card, they’re invited to continue to the setup guide. From there, they can play around with the product and invite their teammates to finish any task they couldn’t.
- Learning by experience. When customers sign up to your product, it’s almost always better to let people keep moving and exploring. Don’t just tell people what to do. Give them the keys, and let them experience your product in their own time.
- Create a platform that people can keep learning about your product. Tell your customers to complete every step at once, and they’re sure to stop listening. Instead, design a platform that your customers can come back to and learn more about your product. (We built our setup guide to aid the customer’s overall progress and comprehension of our product).
- Identify customers who successfully onboarded. Talk to successful new signups (obviously Intercom is great for this ? ) about what worked well for them and see if it can scale for others. What issues did they work around? Why were they so highly motivated?
The temptation for any startup is to design a signup flow, ship it, and ultimately neglect it. But remember, shipping is only the start of the process. As we’ve seen, what worked for yesterday’s signups won’t always work for tomorrow’s. Your product is evolving and your customer base is changing, so make sure your signup flow is continually keeping pace.
Enjoyed this post? You might enjoy this book we published all about onboarding.