5 Tips to Deliver a Great SaaS Customer Onboarding Experience

Customer onboarding should involve simple steps toward value.

Customer onboarding is an introduction to a new way of working. Your customer has sought out your product because they hope it will bring them value and growth. Achieving this success depends on your customer’s ability to quickly get to grips with your product’s interface, features, and the way the whole program integrates with their workflow. 

The most effective ways to take the stress out of that transition are to build the customer onboarding experience around simple steps and a clear path to value. Your customer signed on in search of value, and the quicker you can deliver that value, the more likely you are to build lasting relationships with customers.

5 Tips to Maximize the Customer Onboarding Experience

The digital transformation of business has empowered customers to expect personalized, on-demand attention from their service partners. The rise in SaaS and subscription business models with low upfront costs and regular renewal windows means customers can make emotional and rapid decisions to leave an agreement with little consequence.

To impress from the outset and show your customer your product’s potential, take note of the following onboarding best practices:

  1. Get the Whole Enterprise Involved
  2. Set Milestones
  3. Train Your Customers
  4. Assess Results
  5. Keep Customers Engaged


The customer onboarding experience begins on day one with a set of big-picture goals that show your customer that your product is value- and results-focused.

1. Get the Whole Enterprise Involved

As customer lifetime value is now spread out over years of renewals and upsells, customer retention and customer success efforts must be seen as a shared value across the enterprise. Every piece of customer data you can capture and analyze gives you a better chance of delivering value, no matter where it originates. Your sales and customer success teams play a role in designing, monitoring, and executing the onboarding phase.

For instance, vital customer information captured during sales, such as goals, business model, and preferred points of contact, should be conveyed to everyone who will engage with the customer. In turn, any team members involved with renewal should have access to data on customer behavior and product usage. Combining data streams and making them easy for everyone to access helps create a customer-centric enterprise that is built to predict and meet its customers’ needs.

2. Set Milestones

Milestones are a set of instructions for success. If you understand your customer’s business, then you can demonstrate in a few simple steps how your product will deliver them value into the future.

Setting milestones should begin with achievable targets for quickly getting new users through onboarding modules that are relevant to their business needs. The very next goal should be for the customer to get to first value. Understanding the path to first value will provide goals for the post-onboarding period. Regularly marking off agreed milestones—and communicating to customers when they have reached a milestone—generates momentum and excitement. It is a tangible way to demonstrate value to a customer early in their journey and help them feel comfortable in the relationship. It is also possible to miss things when milestones and goals are first set; be prepared to implement adjustments down the road to ensure ongoing success.

3. Train Your Customer

Your customer should be set up for success before they even start using your software. That means you will need resources such as training walk-throughs and webinars for low-touch customers and personal training sessions for high-touch customers. Make sure you lay out clearly what the customer needs to know to start working with the product and moving toward the creation of value.

The customer should also have a place to share feedback. This will allow you to learn from customers’ experiences and make sure your company always delivers the very best experience possible. 

4. Assess Results

Customer data is not just for collecting, it is for acting upon. Look at multiple types of customer data to get a true understanding of the customer experience. Gathering the right data and acting on it can prevent churn and even help you capitalize on upsell opportunities.

Voice of the Customer information, for example, can be of great benefit during onboarding but also comes with caveats. Is the customer too polite or uncertain to tell the whole truth? A customer’s direct response to a survey or request for feedback is not a complete understanding of their experience. A fuller picture can be formed by pairing survey feedback with product usage data such as the number and type of people logging in, the time spent using various product features, progress toward goals, number of support tickets, and more. Of course, all this data is meaningless unless you’re set up to act on it. Listen to your data, have processes in place that allow you to respond to various customer situations appropriately, and you’ll increase your chances of building a long-term relationship. 

5. Keep Customers Engaged

Make sure you are gathering the right information and communicating in a relevant way with the customer according to their needs and location in the onboarding process. Regular and relevant communication is key to customer engagement, but it does not mean that every customer needs to be high-touch. 

During onboarding, you can use your customer information to segment them into a group of others with closely shared attributes. This enables your Customer Success team to successfully service customers without losing the effectiveness of their campaigns. The ability to segment customers is a win-win: it allows your CS team to do more with what they have and gives them time back to work on other, more high-impact projects while also offering your customers value by sending only communications that apply to their situation and provide help they can use.

Choose the Right Customer Success Platform

Recurring revenue is the lifeblood of the SaaS industry and a customer’s worth should be measured in the potential value of a long-term relationship, rather than a single sales event. Within this vision, onboarding is the process of accelerating the first experience of value. To show that value and to maintain it over the long-term, you need a comprehensive customer success platform. 

A CS platform should be capable of gathering customer data and able to provide an early warning of changes in customer behavior. Most importantly, it should provide a goal- and outcome-based approach so that your team knows exactly when to take action—and what action to take—at any given time. A great customer onboarding experience is the first step along a mutually beneficial path of growth, but you need the right platform to get it right.

To find out how Totango’s fully customizable metrics help you deliver value to your customer from the moment they begin onboarding, explore the Onboarding SuccessBLOC. Or, get started with best practices for free today.

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