Winning a new customer should be a time for celebration, but as any Customer Success team member can tell you, it’s just the beginning of the user journey.

You need to nurture those relationships from the get-go to keep users active and engaged. And for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies, there’s a very small window of opportunity to win over new users.

We’re talking days, not months, here. According to HubSpot, 60% of SaaS customers who drop a software platform in the first week do so because they either didn’t understand the product or didn’t get any value from it.

Fine-tuning your onboarding process will help show first-time users the ropes and cut down on costly churn.

Follow these steps to create a great user onboarding experience:

Create personalized product tours that speak to each user

Onboarding is the process of guiding people step by step through products so they fully understand how to use those platforms.

Why, then, does it seem like so many apps leave new customers to figure things out on their own? No wonder so many free trials fizzle out.

On the other side of the spectrum, you have products that inundate users with pop-ups explaining every last detail about every dashboard, feature and tool. Information overload can be just as frustrating as no guidance at all.

The user onboarding experience should be tailored to each person so every feature, dashboard and process covered is relevant and meaningful to every user. That takes some legwork, but it’s worth the effort.

SaaS products often target a wide range of user groups who are interested in different features and capabilities. If you know a certain subset of users will never — or almost never — use a particular feature, then why highlight it during the product tour?

With tightly defined user segmentations, you can tweak the onboarding experience according to different demographics and criteria:

  • User roles.
  • Account type.
  • Login activity.
  • Account lifecycle stage.

You get the best of both worlds. You can create guided tours showing users everything they need to know about your product or service without throwing a lot of irrelevant information at them.

Combine high-tech and high-touch onboarding strategies

An uptick in active users can be a double-edged sword for CS teams: As your userbase grows, there’s less time to spend onboarding individual users and accounts. How are you supposed to scale onboarding to continue delivering the customer journey and product experience people have come to expect?

Blending the strengths of high-tech and high-touch onboarding strategies frees up CS teams so they can work more effectively. That means focusing on high-priority interactions, accounts and tasks without compromising the onboarding experience for other users.

Set up automated triggers to launch guided product tours, feature callouts and interactive walkthroughs for different scenarios and user groups. You may not always be able to personally help individual users, but these automated tools give people the support they need, whenever they need it.

The key is to find the right balance between high-tech and high-touch. Too much automation will leave first-time users feeling unvalued, while relying on hands-on support is unsustainable as your business grows.

Let user data be your onboarding guide

Your product is not set in stone. You’re constantly adding new features that will appeal to different user segments. SaaS onboarding strategies need to evolve alongside the product so every interaction is a meaningful one.

Contextualizing the right user data will provide a ton of insight into what’s working and what needs to be tweaked. For instance, you might notice that an unusually large number of users are ignoring a core product feature. Coincidence? Possibly, but the more likely explanation is that people either don’t know it exists or they don’t see the value in it.

Be sure to combine raw product usage data with subjective user feedback to fully capture the onboarding experience. Frustrated customers or internal users won’t hold back, and that unvarnished truth will tell you an awful lot about your onboarding process.

By putting all of the different pieces together, including A/B user testing and product experience surveys, you’ll know exactly what adjustments need to be made.

Don’t get complacent. Continually revisit and update your approach so you’re always guiding users toward their own “aha moment,” where they understand your value proposition and how your product or service can help them. And really, that’s the goal of user onboarding.

There are always opportunities to refine onboarding flow and user engagement. It’s up to your CS team to find them.

Better onboarding’s your ticket to higher user adoption, customer satisfaction and retention rates — you know, the metrics that matter most to your business. Take the time to understand to get onboarding right.