Customer churn is defined as the percentage of people canceling their subscription in a given period. There can be numerous reasons a user might want to do so, but the biggest reason is poor onboarding.

Customer onboarding challenges
Source: 5 Leading Causes of Customer Churn

If your newly converted customers don't survive the onboarding phase, we are sure that you will never see them again. This phase remains until your customers don't realize the value of your product and are sure that it is all they need to solve their problem. 

However, various customer onboarding challenges don’t allow them to realize your product's full potential, leading your customers to churn out or switch to your competitors. 

After interacting with various lead managers and startup owners, we have listed the most common customer onboarding challenges that SaaS owners face with possible solutions. 

So, let's get started. 

#1 Why care for better customer onboarding? 

Now, you might come to us saying that customer onboarding is just a phase, but the product is the real deal. No doubt, the product has to be valuable, but making your customers reach that point is a big task. 

Today's customers are the smartest; they cannot be lured with low-hanging offers. Gone are the days when low pricing, demo offers, and extreme marketing got you loyal customers. Buyers are now more aware and have an array of options to choose from. 

Onboarding is your first interaction with customers that determines your relationship with them. It's when you tell them how your product solves their needs and encourage them to reach their "aha moment" faster. 

It should not be compromised at any cost. 

Still on the fence?

Here are some stats that prove better customer onboarding is extremely crucial to retaining customers-

  • 86% of people said they had been more loyal to a business that spends on onboarding content and educating them after buying the product. 
  • 55% of customers have opted out of the product because they didn't know how to use it. And, 8 out of 10 people have deleted an app for the same reason. 
  • 89% of buyers with bad customer experience turned to the competitor and never bought from them. 
  • Even a 5% increase in retention rate can increase your profit by up to 25-95%. 
86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. 

We can mention tons of other customer onboarding stats that show onboarding is crucial for your customers and it plays a major differentiator between your product and competitors. 

#2 Top customer onboarding challenges in SaaS apps

Don't worry; even the biggest companies have made onboarding mistakes. Our goal should be to identify, accept, and work towards making things right. No matter how good your product is, you need to make it simple for your customers to understand its value.

Below are some customer onboarding issues in SaaS that are affecting your customer experience and leading them to churn. 

1. The onboarding process is too lengthy 

One of the biggest challenges in the onboarding process is its length. The more lengthy, technical, or complicated your onboarding process, the fewer the chances of users completing it. 

Research shows that 40% of your customers will abandon your onboarding process, out of which more than 33% will do it because of its lengthy process. 

Customer onboarding challenges. New customer
Source: Challenges faced by companies in adopting online onboarding process

People want to realize the value of your product faster, and adding more steps does more harm than good. The longer they wait, the more they believe the product is not for them. Nobody wants to waste their time on a product that isn't helping them to achieve their goals. 

How to shorten the customer onboarding process?

Successful onboarding has nothing to do with company goals; instead, its main objective should be to meet customers' expectations. Your product's customer retention rate depends on what you do between the time your customers sign up for the product and realize their first success. 

You can streamline your customer onboarding process by shortening the onboarding process; maybe a 2-3 step process is enough. Focus on collecting information related to the customer’s goals and the purpose of using your product. 

Such information can further be used in personalising customers' onboarding by highlighting features that gel with their goals. 

Make sure you don't overwhelm your customers' experience by giving them too many tasks, notifications, or tutorials. 

For instance, check out CoSchedule, an editorial calendar that helps businesses and solopreneurs organize blogs and social media. 

Customer onboarding challenges. CoSchedule onboarding

Their onboarding process is short and to the point. 

You just have to create your account through your email, and the app will guide you through all the features it has to help you get started. Such a simple onboarding process takes no time, and the customers realize the product's value faster.

Customer onboarding challenges. CoSchedule onboarding

2. Lack of personalization in onboarding 

Different people have different expectations of your product. The customer base of a product can stretch across multiple roles and industries. So, if you are using the same onboarding strategy for all of your customer segments, then there is a problem. 

Research done on over 7000 customers shows that 52% of people would switch to your competitor if your business doesn't try to personalize your interactions. Another 50% of them said that they want brands to anticipate their needs if they want them to stay. 

Customer onboarding challenges. Switch brands
Source: State of the Connected Customer

So, instead of using the one-size-fits-all approach to onboarding, use a personalized, customer goal-oriented model to combat this challenge in the onboarding process. 

How to personalize your onboarding process?

Personalization is the key to solving most onboarding challenges. There are two ways to crack it: by creating an ideal buyer persona and implementing a personalized onboarding flow. 

You will agree that not everyone is your customer, so you must define how your potential buyer looks. Mention their age, gender, location, goals, problems or pain points, and objections. 

Customer onboarding challenges. Customer avatar
Source: The Customer Avatar: Find And Reach Your Target Market

Once you understand that, it will be easy to personalize your onboarding flow. You can use this information to understand customer groups, their ultimate goals, and triggers that will motivate them to get started asap. 

For inspiration, check out Asana's onboarding flow. It starts with understanding your primary role, whether you are a project manager, individual creator, senior leader, or manager. Moving on, it will ask about your main objective for using Asana and help you set up your personalized dashboard.

Customer onboarding challenges. Asana onboarding
Customer onboarding challenges. Asana onboarding 2

Its personalization is definitely a key differentiator when we compare it with its competitors. 

If you want to implement a similar onboarding flow, then MarbleFlows can help you. We have a variety of interactive onboarding flows that you can use to customize your customer's path and convert them twice as fast. 

Create a top-notch personalized onboarding flow with MarbleFlows. Click here to use the template. 

3. Not getting users to the activation point

User activation is a big step in the client onboarding process. It's the first time your users are happy with your product and realize that it really does solve their problems. 

But, the problem starts when they don't realize that value. 

According to Intercom, 40–60% of people who sign up for a free trial will use it once and never come back. There could be many reasons, but the most prominent one is that they didn't see the value while interacting with your software. 

Here are some causes of low activation rates-

  • A lengthy or technical onboarding process that people leave even before they try your product. 
  • Maybe you are attracting the wrong traffic. Defining your ideal customers before building a marketing and sales strategy is essential. 
  • Bad UX/UI design that prevents them from using your product effortlessly. 
  • Lastly, and the most common is that you provide the wrong value to the right user. 

For instance, if you use a project management tool, a solopreneur will use it differently than a project manager of an MNC. You cannot market the same value to them; if you do, they will almost certainly turn you down. 

How to increase your activation rate in SaaS? 

The activation rate refers to the percentage of people who reached the activation milestone out of the total number of people who signed up. To measure it, you have to define "in-app" events a user has to perform to reach the activation point. 

For a social media app, it could be to add a friend or post a picture; similarly, for a payment app, it could be the first transaction they do. 

To improve the activation rate, you have to make your customers realize its value, which can be done through easy product walkthroughs. 

A product walkthrough helps your customers understand how a product works and the ways they can benefit from it. Product walkthroughs are used by a lot of B2C and B2B SaaS to shorten the time it takes to learn how to use the service and get people to their goals faster. 

See how Hubspot, an integrated CRM platform, uses product walkthroughs to help its customers understand how to use its product. It will guide you through every step, making it easier for their customers to understand the CRM and encouraging them to leverage instant value. 

Customer onboarding challenges. Hubspot onboarding

4. Cluttered user interface 

Most people link a good UX with making your site pretty. But, in reality, beautiful-looking sites are the by-product of creating a seamless and intuitive experience for your users that makes them want to engage, explore, and ultimately convert. 

Many organizations make the mistake of overwhelming their customers with cluttered interfaces. They believe in putting everything on the platter, regardless of what their customer might be looking for. 

Research done by Harvard Business Review shows that "design simplicity" is the single biggest driver of stickiness. You must stick to limited features so your users are not overwhelmed and encouraged to move further. 

How to organize your user interface? 

Designing SaaS software is hard. Most apps offer so many features that not speaking of them makes the brand itch. But, most UI experts believe that organized and structured UI elements are the way to let people use and get value from your product. 

Here are some ways to improve your UI/UX-

  • Follow the visual hierarchy. It means arranging elements according to their importance. You have to follow the visual design principle and manipulate the size, color, alignment, repetition, proximity, and style of your UI elements. A strong visual hierarchy encourages users to look at the interface the way they want. 
  • Focus on one feature at a time. Do not overwhelm your customer with the information they cannot soak in. This will only lead them to churn out and not realize your product's full potential. 
  • Conduct regular user testing to ensure your SaaS tool is easy to work with. Complicated onboarding is one of the biggest reasons users don't reach their "aha" moment. 
  • Reward your customers in ways that they feel motivated to keep going. Use gamification in your SaaS onboarding that provides rewards and appreciates your actions. 

Check out Duolingo's ( a language learning platform) user interface, and you will be blown away by how clean it looks even when there is so much information on it. From the user onboarding, you will see a visual hierarchy where the tool breaks down complicated topics into chewable visual treats that are appealing to watch and easy to understand. 

Customer onboarding challenges. Duolingo onboarding

Duolingo also uses gamification techniques like leaderboards and progress bars to encourage users to stick around longer. 

Wrapping up

When launching your onboarding process, keep your customers in mind. They don't have the patience for an elaborate customer onboarding process. The reality is that they only care about how fast they can realize value from your product. The answer to all your customer onboarding challenges is helping your clients reach their ultimate goals. 

One way you can do this is through personalized interactive flows. Try MarbleFlows interactive flows for free, and see your user retention rate go up. 

Written by Rashi Jaitly.