First impressions are powerful and hard to overcome. As a SaaS company, our user onboarding experience gives the first impression of our company long before a user interacts with our team. Just like a well-run onboarding meeting, the user onboarding experience should be seamless, effective, inspiring, and make the participants feel that they’re investing their time into something valuable.

Here at LOU, we provide SaaS companies with the tools to better connect with and educate their users. No matter the company’s industry or size, we’ve found that the journey to a truly phenomenal user onboarding experience begins with these 5 steps.

Identify your users’ unique onboarding requirements

Evaluate your various user personas. Are they utilizing your platform for different reasons? Are they approaching the onboarding process from different points of view due to their industry or job title?

User Personas

Before we begin to craft an onboarding experience, we first need a clear idea of who the experience is for and what their unique needs are. If your different user segments may require separate forms of training/assistance, choose 1 persona to begin with then repeat this process for the others.

Enable users to reach the ‘aha moment’

There are many different names for it: activation point, magic moment, aha moment, etc. It’s all just to ask, what point in your platform does a new user need to reach to ‘get it’ and come back. For a new user to ‘get it’, they need to understand the value your platform is delivering to them. Not just the return on investment of their monthly subscription, but also the value they receive in exchange for investing their time. The initial onboarding process can be one of the biggest investments of time a customer makes in a platform, and it’s important they experience the value in that first interaction.

Map out the ideal user journey

Start at the very first page a user sees once they sign up for the platform. What workflows or steps does a user have to complete to find their way to the activation point?

User Journey Map

Flag areas where they may get stuck or need additional assistance. Do you provide support to answer these questions? Are your customers finding and using it? Does your support guide take them to a new page and away from the onboarding experience?

Be proactive in support

Verify that you have support available to explain how users can complete each workflow that leads them to the activation point. You want to catch the user just after they have signed up while their motivation is at its peak. If the new user can’t effectively onboard in their first try or if they get stuck on a step and have to wait for support, the chances that they return to complete the onboarding process lowers significantly.

One common example we see from working with companies’ head of customer success is that teams often receive calls and support tickets regarding questions that have already been addressed and documented in FAQ’s or help centers. Because new users place a high value on speed and effortlessness in the onboarding process, it’s not enough to provide users with answers to their questions. We must be proactive in putting the answers in front of them at exactly the moment they need it.

Watch & learn, then iterate

As with anything in life or business the first attempt won’t be perfect. Record analytics on how your users are responding to the new onboarding experience. Look at the data surrounding completion rate, where users are dropping off, what support they’re searching for, etc. and adjust the onboarding experience accordingly. Some important questions to ask are:

  • Does this onboarding experience work for all our users or do some users need additional or different training?

  • Do we understand what the activation point is or is it really another point in the user experience?

  • Are our users getting to the activation point quickly enough?

  • If users are getting lost and not completing the onboarding process, do we offer enough support for their issue, and is the support in the right form? I.e. are users not finding it, or are they not looking for it?

If you found this guide useful, check out LOU to begin creating powerful user onboarding experiences in just minutes, or send me your thoughts at rachel@louassist.com – I’d love to hear them!