customer onboarding

7 keys for irresistible customer onboarding experiences

Lola BarbierLast updated on October 20, 2023
6 min

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Contrary to what your sales team might be chanting as they uncork that bottle of champagne, a customer’s loyalty isn’t won when they sign up for your service. Relationships can quickly sour if customers fail to see value in your solution, find it too difficult to use, or simply lose interest.

In era when one in four users will abandon your app after only one session, we’re particularly sensitive to these risks. Here are a few of the lessons we’ve learned at Aircall after making major investments in our customer onboarding experience in recent months.

Customer onboarding is about the journey

Customer onboarding should familiarize customers with your product and demonstrate its value. After a successful experience, customers will have fully adopted your solution and mastered its applications.

Proper onboarding isn’t done to prevent churn; it’s done to ensure the customer achieves their Desired Outcome. Retention comes from that.

— Lincoln Murphy (@lincolnmurphy) April 21, 2016

However, this transformation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Onboarding must be molded to individual customers and their specific objectives. If your product doesn’t serve the customer’s distinct purposes, how can you expect them to see its value?

1. Plot their path to success

Our onboarding process typically kicks into gear when a customer upgrades their free trial. From there, we guide them through a carefully constructed sequence that includes:

  1. Walking customers through signing up and downloading the app.

  2. A first email welcoming them and announcing their upcoming onboarding.

  3. First login to the app.

  4. First experience of the dashboard and its features.

  5. Training sessions to give them the tools to move forward on their own.

  6. Checking up on them after a couple weeks, to make sure they’re doing well.

This process is previewed immediately after signup, as our salesperson informs the customer and their team about the onboarding schedule. This sets customers’ expectations.

2. Think in terms of success milestones

Just as important as mapping out the onboarding journey, is figuring out what we wanted to help our customers achieve. We tried to understand how they might define their own success. With every onboarding session, we strive to make our product an integral part of that success.

We want our customers to be able to use our app autonomously and get the most out of all its features. With that said, our rough onboarding outline is as follows:

The success milestone at the end of this step is a fully configured network and a team confidently outfitted with the right computers, headphones, and versions of the app.

  • Schedule a call with the administrator to show them the dashboard and introduce the features best suited to their needs.

After this step, the administrator will know how to add and remove numbers and users, track productivity, and pinpoint ways to improve their team’s performance.

  • Book a live demo for all users to show them how the app works and how to handle their phone calls.

Lastly, all the users will know how to seamlessly use Aircall and apply our product’s potential to their daily tasks.

Attend to every use case

Since there are several different applications of our product (sales and support, small team or large, inbound and outbound, etc.), we tailor our onboarding to the most relevant use cases. We always start from the same basic itinerary, but for each customer, we highlight the ways in which Aircall can adapt to their unique context.

“We sell more than a phone,” explains Arthur André, our head of customer onboarding. “We sell productivity and simplicity. That’s why we want to accompany our users and make sure they have a full handle of the product in order to attain their personal goals.”

3. Make it personalized

When he gets in touch with an administrator for the first time, Arthur asks, “How do you use the phone? What kind of problems do you run into and how are you hoping to improve?”

This helps him alter his curriculum for each customer.

  • If they’re mostly working support, he’ll show them how to comment and assign calls, and how to break down their missed and abandoned call reports.

  • If the customer focused on outbound sales, he’ll show them how to use click-to-dial and how to track agent performance.

And so on.

We often walk customers through situations that are tangentially related to their phone system: finding the best headset, configuring their router, adding integrations, etc. Our end goal is to provide the customer with all the advice and training they need to hit the ground running. We want them to get what they need out of Aircall and hit that first success milestone right away.

4. Get personal

Arthur strives to deliver the most pleasant and smooth onboarding experience possible. He gets in touch with customers over email, but he prefers to conduct training over the phone. The phone channel allows for a more personal touch with customers.

Though an account manager will ultimately take over once onboarding is complete, every opportunity to build a rapport with customers is a good one. Customer onboarding sets the tone for every subsequent service experience with your company. Since customers associate the quality of your service with your brand, a poor onboarding experience is enough to put relationships at risk — no matter how great your product.

Demonstrating essential customer service skills, such as patience, empathy, and positivity will put the customer at ease and make them more receptive to training. Your onboarding experience is only as strong as its weakest link, so don’t let that liability be your bedside manner.

Use a light touch

Part of making customer onboarding pleasant rather than a chore is being available, but knowing to tread lightly.

5. Be selective

If you’re anything like us, you think your product is the bee’s knees and you’re proud to present it to customers. But as you tailor your onboarding training to new users, it’s important to resist the urge to reveal everything at once. Not every feature will be relevant to every user’s routine.

If you overwhelm customers with information that isn’t necessary to their immediate success, it will distract them from the information that is. Besides, exhaustive onboarding can actually put the customer off or rob them of their confidence.

Be strict with yourself. Trust that if a customer makes your product a keystone of their success, you’ve completed a successful onboarding journey regardless of how many of your features they actually use.

6. Make it elective

Some of our customers greatly benefit from dedicated onboarding sessions, but others find our app accessible without any help.

“We just want people to get what they need out of the app,” says Arthur. “If they get the hang of it right away, we make sure they’re all set then let them go off and get things done.”

Don’t let a strict onboarding strategy hinder your customers’ true goals. Few things are as irritating as being trapped in an unskippable and unnecessary tutorial. Arthur is always available to make recommendations and offer training, but he knows better than to interfere with customers who have it down pat.

7. Change it up

Diversifying the medium you use for customer onboarding can make the volume of information you dispense more palatable to customers.

Aside from phone calls and emails, Arthur experiments with less conventional methods as well. For example, Lisa, our automated helper, picks up a little slack. When a user starts up the app for the first time, Lisa helps them check their audio and network quality.

Once Arthur has presented new clients with the information essential to reaching their first few success milestones, he lets them know that they can refer to our FAQ. These self-service options empower customers and help them adopt your product on their own terms. Making various types of resources available to customers lets them take ownership of your product – and their experience – through the means that suit them best.

Published on July 28, 2017.

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