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Data exchange

Why customers hate your customer onboarding experience

Let’s face it...getting started with new software can be a pain. 

Between cookie-cutter onboarding, hands-on data migration, and emailing sensitive information back and forth, there’s a lot that has to go right in order for your new customer to find value quickly. 

Not to mention, you don’t want them to feel buyer’s remorse. 

You know your new customer is asking themselves these questions post-purchase:

- Will I get a return on my investment? 

- Will the product really work how they say it will?

- Will my team see this as helpful, or just another step in their day-to-day?

- If this thing doesn’t work out, how will it reflect on me?

So, as a Software as a Service (SaaS) company, the last thing you want to do is deliver a customer onboarding process that doesn’t work. 

Or worse yet, an experience they hate. 

If your customer onboarding experience looks anything like this, your customers probably can’t stand it:

  • It’s mostly automated with boilerplate processes. 

  • There’s not much personal outreach to discover their true pain points and struggles.  

  • You’re sending onboarding emails back and forth to your customer. 

  • The data they have isn’t clean, making it more difficult and more time consuming to migrate it into your software.

And if they hate the way they’re onboarded, chances are they won’t stick around for long.

So, how can you improve your client onboarding flow? 

Let’s start from the beginning.

What is customer onboarding?

Customer onboarding is how your new customer is introduced to your product or service. It’s getting comfortable with the new tool, understanding what it does, what buttons to push to make it do what you need it to do, etc. It’s the hand-holding between the CSM (Customer Success Manager) and the client. 

SaaS Onboarding is a pivotal moment in the customer journey. CSMs (Customer Success Managers) have the important task of building and maintaining a strong relationship. They can do this by showing them value in your product as quickly as possible. When this happens, there’s trust built between you and your customer. 

During new user onboarding, your Customer Success Team has to make sure your customers don’t feel like just another account. They need to feel like they’re your only account. 

There will be times that the new user may feel overwhelmed or confused. But the important thing is how you respond to alleviate those objections as fast as possible. 

What’s at stake? Well, if a client isn’t onboarded smoothly, they won’t see the full value of your tool and are more likely to churn.

What are the benefits of analyzing your customer onboarding process?

Just like most of your business activities, it’s important to test, analyze results, and iterate. The same goes for your customer onboarding process - see what’s working, what needs work, and switch it up. 

So how do you know if your client onboarding process is one your clients LOVE, or HATE? 

There are a few important factors to consider when measuring the success of your client onboarding. 

First, is how quickly your customer can get through the onboarding phase, and into the value-driven adoption phase. As a general baseline, you’ll want to aim to keep onboarding less than 30 days, though this timeframe varies on product, company, scope, and effort needed on both sides. Just remember: The quicker they see value, the better. 

Another way to measure the effectiveness of your onboarding process is simple: ASK. 

Ask a new customer who recently went through your onboarding what their experience was like. Was it helpful? What did they like? What would they change? What key step, feature, or benefit gave them that “aha!” moment? 

Getting genuine answers to these questions from real clients will help you iterate your process for the next one.

How to determine any weak points in your customer onboarding process

Successful customer onboarding should be a boilerplate checklist on your end. You need to ask your customer about their specific goals, pains, and problems, and help them see how your product can help. 

Here are a few onboarding metrics to help you identify any weaknesses in your client onboarding: 

Product adoption

Consider the speed and volume of usage to your product. Are they using it daily? Have they been using it since day 1? These could be indicators of a solid or weak customer experience during onboarding. (NOTE: A client may be satisfied with one feature of your product, and happy to pay for it. It’s your job to surprise and delight them by helping them realize the added benefits of other features so they never leave.) 

Look at CSAT scores

If your Customer Satisfaction Scores are steadily dropping, you may want to take a look at your onboarding process. Satisfaction starts from the very beginning, and you only get one good first impression. Make it count. 


This one’s pretty simple: If your customers stick around, they probably had a good experience during onboarding. Sure, there are ways to turn things around after a poor start with your brand, but it’s not easy. But in general, better customer onboarding leads to more loyal customers and less customer churn.

How to implement improvements to your customer onboarding process

Once you analyze your customer onboarding, you may find it to be difficult to put those improvements into practice, especially at scale. You may need to find the right balance between truly personal 1-to-1 onboarding, and automated processes. 

One way to approach this is to identify frequently asked questions, and create guides, downloadable content, or videos that answer them. That way you don’t have to type out the same answers over and over again. 

There are a number of customer onboarding tools to help with your onboarding strategy, but remember that at the end of the day, a solid customer experience is all about relationships. 

Another thing to keep in mind is maintaining excitement. On one hand, a decision-maker could have anxiety about rolling out a new product or service. But if you approach it the right way, you can feed off the excitement post-purchase. Remind them what got them pumped about signing the dotted line, and show them there’s more where that came from. 

A common way that customers might lose their excitement is by making them feel like “Data Wranglers”. In other words, telling you new customers that in order for them to get fully onboarded, they have to take the time and effort to collect all their customer data and format it so that it fits. 

That’s one of the main reasons we built Flatfile’s data onboarding platform - a collaborative, secure workspace for data exchange that helps companies speed up every part of data migration, from data submission to cleaning.

Transform enterprise data onboarding from complex to simple with Flatfile’s data onboarding platform

Learn more

Your brand has spent the time, energy, and resources to acquire a new client. 

Don’t spoil it by delivering an onboarding experience they hate! Help them find value quickly and easily, and you’ll have a much better chance of keeping that customer for life.

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