The ultimate goal for any SaaS organization is to help customers achieve their desired business outcomes. This starts with proper customer onboarding. Onboarding sets the tone and ensures strong product adoption, and thus is the key to whether you grow or perish.

Lincoln Murphy is famous for saying, “the seeds of churn are planted early, and those seeds are planted deep if your onboarding experience is bad.”

Proper onboarding not only includes knowing your customers’ desired outcomes and what they expect to achieve with your product, it also is the data and customer onboarding metrics that you have on your customers’ behaviors and interactions that will give you insights on how to create an onboarding experience that means the most to them.

But not all data is created equally. To have a successful onboarding process and know where to optimize, you need to understand what’s behind the data to be most effective. To do this, begin with the end in mind. What does onboarding success look like for your users and your product? What are your objectives? Knowing the results you want will help you determine the metrics you need to track.

While no two businesses are the same, here are a few key metrics you should track to determine how well your customers are progressing through onboarding milestones.

Onboarding-specific surveys

Deploy onboarding-specific surveys to get your customers’ impressions of your product and brand, as well as to obtain their feedback and suggestions on the onboarding process and where you can make improvements to enhance it.

One area you should focus on is NPS. The NPS question and its follow-up question is a quick way to gauge loyalty and to determine promoters, passives, and detractors.

The NPS question is: On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our brand/product/service to a friend or colleague?

You also want to know why each customer scored the way they did. Thus, this question should be followed up with a second question: What are the reasons you selected this score? Your feedback will help us to improve.

customer success KPIs NPS sentiment

You might even want to segment your customers based on how they answered these questions.

What is it that makes promoters so happy interacting with your product? This is a great time to find customer success stories from these promoters and use this content in your messaging. Your promoters are a great resource to give you feedback on what their WOW moments are. Find out from detractors what issues they have with your product and what needs to be fixed. These are great insights to not only improve the onboarding process but the product as well. Find out from passives why they are indifferent to your brand and product, and how to convert them into promoters.

Customer Engagement

Tracking customer engagement is vital in the onboarding process. Knowing this information early will enable you to monitor the onboarding progress, anticipate issues, and take corrective action as quickly as possible. Examples of specific areas to track include the following:

  • Login activity: How many customers are logging in? How often are they logging in? Customers who frequently log into your product are more likely to get greater value from your product. If login activity is low, that may signal an opportunity for you to be proactive to help customers achieve their business goals and reduce the potential for churn.
  • Feature adoption: How many features are customers using? Where are they spending their time within your platform? Feature adoption should go up during onboarding as your customers are learning about your product and its capabilities. If feature adoption is low, stagnating, or declining, this is another opportunity for you to proactively help customers.
  • Feature usage: What features are customers accessing? How frequently have customers worked with particular features? At what point in their journey are they using those features? High usage shows those parts of your product that are of most value to customers. These insights can inform your entire onboarding strategy and where to make improvements to enhance the customers’ experience.
  • Onboarding abandonment: If customers stop using your product before fully understanding how they can benefit from it, there is an opportunity for you to be proactive and help guide them through it as well as to determine whether there might be a breakdown in the sales or customer success processes.

Customer engagement includes touch points inside and outside of the product. It provides important opportunities to connect with customers, create an experience customers expect, and position you for future customer expansion and advocacy.

The important thing here is to identify trends that matter to you and how you meet your objectives. Determine behaviors that are attributed to churn or adoption. Use this info to segment customers to improve their experience.


Reducing a user’s “Time-To-Value” (TTV) is a critical part of driving strong user adoption, especially during the onboarding phase. If they don’t realize initial value quickly, they may start to doubt whether you can deliver on your promise.

The best way to reduce a user’s TTV is to quickly deliver on the perceived value your user expects to receive from your product so you:

  • maintain user excitement (we refer to this as WOW moments, where your user sees the benefit they get from your product and goes WOW!)
  • build confidence in your product that users see that it’s actually improving their lives
  • provide a quality customer experience to help them realize a quick return on investment

Onboarding should reaffirm why your customers chose you in the first place. And, it should provide customers value within moments.

Customer onboarding is a continuous process. If you don’t track and measure it, you won’t know where you are succeeding or failing. And you’ll miss important opportunities to enhance the process and help your customers achieve their desired business outcomes.

Don’t forget to check out the 2018 SaaS User Adoption & Onboarding Benchmarking Report to see how companies are managing their practices today, then take the Customer Onboarding Grader to see how you stack up.

Want to see how UserIQ can provide deeper insight into these customer onboarding metrics?