5 Best Practices for Customer Onboarding: Importance and Steps

Gaurav Rawat
June 27, 2024
14 mins


Imagine you’ve just signed up for a new service or purchased a new product. What happens next? This crucial phase is known as customer onboarding, where companies guide you through the initial steps of using their product or service. The main purpose of customer onboarding best practices is to ensure that customers fully understand and can effectively use the product, leading to a positive first experience. Effective onboarding significantly impacts customer retention and satisfaction. 

When users are well-acquainted with a product, they are more likely to continue using it and feel satisfied with their purchase. This process reduces the likelihood of customer churn, where users stop using a product due to confusion or dissatisfaction. By providing clear guidance and support, businesses can help new users maximize the value they get from the product, leading to long-term loyalty. 

In this article, let's learn about some of the customer onboarding best practices for building strong customer relationships and maintaining a loyal customer base.

5 Customer Onboarding Best Practices

Want to know how to make the best out of your users’ first experience with your app/services? Here are some customer onboarding best practices to follow to make the user experience smooth and interesting for the users:

1. Communicate Early, Communicate Often 

Communicating early and often is one of the important customer onboarding best practices. When you start communicating with customers right from the beginning, you build a strong foundation of trust. Early communication helps customers feel valued and reassured that they made the right choice. 

By maintaining open lines of communication, you can address any questions or concerns promptly, making the onboarding process smooth and enjoyable. This consistent interaction not only enhances the customer experience but also fosters long-term loyalty.

Some tips for effective communication:

  • Send an in-app message to the customer during the onboarding tour.
  • Keep customers informed about their onboarding progress and any important information.
  • Schedule check-ins to answer questions and provide support.
  • Ask for feedback to understand their needs and improve the process.
  • Provide easy-to-follow instructions and resources to help them get started.
  • Make sure your support team is accessible and responsive to any queries.

Example: Grammarly communicates with its users through an onboarding-specific demo document that contains hotspots that users can explore on their own.

Grammarly’s Effective Communication During Onboarding

2. Personalize the Customer Experience

Personalize the onboarding process for each user based on their preferences and needs so that you make them feel special and understood. This customer onboarding best practice can make customers feel valued and more connected to your product or service. It shows that you care about their unique needs and are committed to helping them succeed. 

Some tips to personalize the customer experience:

  • Gather information about customer preferences, goals, and behavior.
  • Send personalized welcome messages that address individual needs.
  • Provide resources and guides relevant to their specific use cases.
  • Offer one-on-one support sessions to address unique concerns.
  • Adjust onboarding content based on customer feedback and progress.
  • Regularly check in with customers to ensure they are getting the most out of your product.

Example: Tumblr uses persona-based onboarding with microcopy, specially customized for each unique user.  

Tumblr’s Persona-based Onboarding

3. Leverage Technology 

Leveraging technology is essential for creating scalable and effective onboarding experiences. Technology allows you to automate and streamline the onboarding process, making it easier to manage and more efficient. This customer onboarding best practice is especially important as your customer base grows, ensuring that every new user gets a consistent and high-quality onboarding experience.

Using digital tools and platforms can help deliver personalized content, track customer progress, and provide support more efficiently. These tools can also gather valuable data and insights, helping you refine and improve the onboarding process over time.

Here are some things that you can opt for:

  • Use automation to send welcome emails, reminders, and follow-up messages.
  • Provide video tutorials and interactive guides to help customers get started.
  • Create a self-service portal where customers can access resources and support.
  • Implement systems to monitor customer progress and identify areas where they might need help.
  • Use technology to gather and analyze customer feedback.
  • Integrate live chat and AI-powered support to assist customers in real time.

Example: Slack uses high-tech empty states with a friendly AI bot that answers users quickly with the right solution. 

Slack’s High-tech Onboarding Process

Also read: 35+ User Onboarding Tools To Design And Optimize Onboarding Journeys

4. Measure Success through KPIs 

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) help you track how well your onboarding process is working and identify areas for improvement. By monitoring these metrics, you can see what’s working and what’s not, allowing you to adjust your strategies accordingly.

KPIs can include metrics like customer satisfaction scores, time to first use, and user engagement levels. This customer onboarding best practice gives you a clear picture of your onboarding performance and highlights where changes might be needed.

Here are some tips for it:

  • Identify the most important metrics that reflect your onboarding goals.
  • Continuously track these KPIs to stay informed about your onboarding effectiveness.
  • Look for trends and patterns in the data to understand customer behavior.
  • Combine KPI data with customer feedback for a complete view.
  • Use insights from KPIs to make informed adjustments to your onboarding process.
  • Regularly update and refine your onboarding strategies based on KPI analysis.

Example: Amazon uses KPIs such as customer satisfaction scores, time to first purchase, and user engagement levels. By analyzing these metrics, Amazon can understand how well its onboarding process performs and identify areas for improvement, ensuring a seamless and satisfying customer experience. 

Amazon’s Feedback Section from where the brand measures its key KPIs

5. Focus on Relationship Building 

Focusing on strong relationships with your customers sets the tone for their entire experience with your company. This customer onboarding best practice can significantly impact customer satisfaction and retention. 

Here are some ways to build strong relationships with users:

  • Tailor onboarding materials to fit their specific needs and preferences
  • Provide updates on their onboarding progress and next steps via calls and messages
  • Pay attention to customer feedback and concerns
  • Show empathy and understanding, ensuring they feel heard and supported
  • Schedule follow-up meetings to check on their progress and satisfaction

By focusing on building strong relationships during the onboarding phase, you not only enhance the customer experience but also lay the foundation for long-term success and loyalty.

Nudge offers an advanced onboarding process that ensures new users feel welcomed and supported. Through personalized guidance, regular updates, and proactive support, Nudge helps users quickly understand and utilize its features, fostering a positive experience and long-term engagement from the start.

Use cases:

  • Binance uses a series of tooltips to take users from one action to the other. This helps them reduce the time-to-value for users.
  • Slack uses an onboarding tour to help users get acquainted with the app. It helps to guide users and reduce friction in onboarding.

Also read: The Complete Guide To User Stickiness

Importance of Customer Onboarding

“Onboarding is more important than ever with today’s environment, especially with financial services firms’ increased attention to the customer experience.” 

- Forrester Research Inc.

Imagine starting a new journey without any guidance. Frustrating, right? The same goes for new users. Customer onboarding is crucial as it helps them understand your product, feel welcomed, and become confident users. A smooth onboarding process boosts satisfaction, reduces churn, and sets the stage for lasting loyalty. 

1. Enhances user satisfaction

A well-designed onboarding process ensures that customers feel welcomed and supported immediately. By providing clear instructions, useful resources, and a friendly introduction to your product, you can significantly improve their initial experience. This positive start leads to higher satisfaction levels, making customers more likely to continue using your product and recommend it to others.

2. Reduces churn rate 

Customers are more likely to leave When they don't understand how to use a product or fail to see its value quickly. Effective onboarding addresses this by helping customers get up to speed and demonstrating the product’s value early on. By offering tutorials, step-by-step guides, and proactive support, you can reduce the likelihood of customers abandoning your product in favor of a competitor.

3. Boosts product adoption

Onboarding is an opportunity to showcase your product's key features and benefits. By guiding customers through essential functions and demonstrating how these can meet their needs, you encourage them to explore and use more features. This thorough introduction accelerates their journey to becoming proficient users, increasing product adoption rates.

Also read: Complete Guide To SaaS Onboarding With Examples And Best Practices

4. Builds customer loyalty

A positive onboarding experience lays the groundwork for a long-term relationship with your customers. Customers who feel confident and satisfied with their initial experience are more likely to stay loyal to your brand. Loyal customers continue using your product and become advocates, sharing their positive experiences with others and providing valuable referrals.

5. Improves communication

Onboarding sets the stage for ongoing communication between you and your customers. By establishing clear channels for support and feedback early on, customers know where to turn when they need help or have suggestions. This ongoing dialogue helps improve your product and service while making customers feel valued and heard, strengthening their relationship with your brand.

Essential Steps in the Customer Onboarding Process

Now, let’s see the important steps that you should consider when organizing an efficient onboarding process.

1. Simplify the Sign-Up Process

A complicated sign-up process can deter potential customers from completing their registration. By simplifying this step, you make it easy for them to get started. Minimize the number of fields required, allow tooltip guides, and ensure the interface is mobile-friendly. The goal is to reduce any friction that might cause drop-offs.

Nudge offers a series of tooltips to take users from one action to the other during the onboarding process. This helps to prioritize the time-to-value for users.

Binance’s Tooltip Feature for Onboarding

2. Send a Customized Welcome Email 

A personalized welcome email sets a positive tone and provides immediate value to the customer, making them feel appreciated and informed. Include the customer’s name, a brief introduction to your company, and a summary of what they can expect next. Provide useful links, such as to your support team or onboarding resources.

3. Guide Through Product Setup and Walkthrough

Helping customers get up and running quickly is crucial. If they struggle with setup, they may become frustrated and give up. Offer a clear, step-by-step guide or an interactive walkthrough. Use videos, screenshots, or in-app tutorials to demonstrate key steps. Ensure the instructions are easy to follow and accessible at any time.

Nudge offers a spotlight feature to highlight the key functionalities and guide the users with a step-by-step process so that they can easily navigate. 

Blusmart’s Spotlight Feature for Onboarding

4. Use Interactive Feature Callouts 

Customers might not discover all the useful features of your product on their own. Highlighting important features ensures they get the most out of your product. Implement Nudge’s in-app messages, tooltips, or pop-ups that appear at relevant times to introduce features. Make these callouts simple and non-intrusive, providing just enough information to be helpful.

5. Provide Access to a Knowledge Base

A knowledge base empowers customers to solve problems on their own, reducing their need to contact support and enhancing their experience. Create and maintain a searchable database of articles, tutorials, videos, and FAQs. Ensure it is well-organized and regularly updated with new information based on common customer queries and feedback.

6. Celebrate Milestones 

Recognizing achievements keeps customers motivated and reinforces positive behavior, encouraging them to continue using your product. Identify key milestones such as completing the initial setup, using a particular feature for the first time, or achieving a specific goal. Send congratulatory messages or offer small rewards to acknowledge these milestones.

7. Maintain Regular Communication and Check-ins 

Ongoing communication helps build a strong relationship, ensures customers feel supported, and allows you to address any issues before they escalate. Schedule regular follow-up emails or calls to check in on the customer’s progress. Use these touchpoints to gather feedback, offer additional resources, and remind them of available support channels. Ensure that these communications are helpful and not overwhelming.

Also read: 25 user onboarding examples with best practices


“Onboarding should be a quest not a journey” 

- Charlie Brook [Founder and Director of Orbit Operations]

Customer onboarding is an important factor in achieving customer satisfaction and loyalty. A smooth onboarding process ensures customers feel welcomed, supported, and confident in using your product, which leads to higher satisfaction and long-term loyalty. It's essential to continuously improve your onboarding processes to meet evolving customer needs and expectations. 

By refining and enhancing these processes, you can boost customer retention, reduce churn, and foster strong, lasting relationships. Always seek feedback and be proactive in making improvements, ensuring your onboarding remains effective and engaging for all new customers. Book a demo with Nudge to get the top-notch features to make sign-up easy and guide new users to their "aha moment" quickly, using native onboarding tours, walkthroughs, and checklists. 

Gaurav Rawat
June 27, 2024