Navigating the Maze: Simplifying User Onboarding Processes for Seamless Experiences

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Onboarding new customers and clients is, in many ways, the most important part of your business. Why? Because all of the hard work you’ve done to attract new customers will count for nothing if people can’t get through the proverbial door. To put it another way, if people get trapped in a complex maze of steps when trying to access your products or services, they’ll quickly turn back around and be lost forever.

For example, let’s say you’re a company that provides photo editing apps or software. You’re trying to compete with established names in the sector such as Snapseed and Lightroom. Your product provides just as many editing tools and image storage options as your competitors’ products. However, in an effort to stand out, you’re charging a lot less for a monthly subscription. That’s enough of a hook to get people to try your product. But, because you’ve spent too much time on other things and not streamlined your onboarding process, you’re not reaping the benefits of this USP.

OK, but surely people are willing to suffer a less-than-efficient onboarding process if the product/service is good? Some people are, but data shows that a lot of people aren’t. In fact, according to the ABBYY State of Intelligent Automation Report Q4-2022, 90% of companies lose potential customers during the onboarding process. In line with this statistic, tests carried out by Medium’s Gabor Cselle found that every step you add to the onboarding process for mobile apps can cost you 20% of potential users.

Finally, it’s not just customer acquisition where onboarding can cost you customers and revenue. As noted by SEON’s guide to customer onboarding software, 86% of people are more likely to stay loyal to a company that invests in its sign-up process. By investing, we mean time and money. As a business owner, you need to think carefully about how you’re registering users and, if necessary, spend money on software that streamlines the process.

Common Onboarding Mistakes

We’ll take a look at some of the best ways to streamline the onboarding process and software that can help. Before that, here are some common hurdles customers often fail to clear when they’re trying to access a new product or service:

  • Too many forms or too many fields to fill in on a single form can be off-putting for new customers.
  • Overwhelming customers with a poorly designed or confusing interface often leads to them dropping off before they’ve completed the process.
  • A lack of support when people are going through/have gone through the onboarding process. People want to feel like they’ve got easy access to help as a prospective or newly signed up customer. A company that does this well is Feedier. It has onboarding checklists and a welcome module with an optional product tour.
  • Not making it clear what product/service the customer is getting and what it’s going to cost. People like companies that are upfront and disclose all aspects of the product/service, including the price.
  • Not all customers are the same; some new users will be experienced, and some will be novices. Therefore, you need to create an onboarding process that has elements of personalisation, so customers get the services they want and avoid the ones they don’t.

These are some of the biggest pitfalls customers can run into during the onboarding process and, in turn, the things you need to avoid as a business owner trying to up your user count. Before we offer some tips on how to onboard customers more efficiently, it’s important to point out that this is a dynamic process.

You need to listen to feedback and refine your processes. Moreover, something that works now might not work as your business or technology evolves. This makes onboarding an ongoing process you need to think about on a semi-regular basis, particularly if you notice that customer acquisition and retention rates are falling.

How to Optimise the Onboarding Process

Some simple but effective ways to optimise the onboarding process are:

1. Set Clear Goals

If you don’t know what you want from the onboarding process, neither will potential customers. Sit down and outline exactly what you want to achieve. Things to think about are how you can speed up the process, retain more customers, and increase turnover.

2. Simplify

The software used to onboard customers should be slick and easy to understand. Make use of buttons, images, and on-touch tabs. Less is more when it comes to text, so always look for ways to replace words with images or buttons whenever possible.

3. Words Matter

We’ve said that less is more when it comes to text; this underscores the need to make every word count. Customers don’t want to read large blocks of text. Make sure you edit blocks of text as much as possible.

4. Offer Different Pathways

We made the point that customers want a certain amount of personalisation when it comes to onboarding. For example, if we stick to our previous example of photo editing software, a professional photographer probably knows how to use Photoshop. A novice photographer might not. They don’t need to go through the same onboarding process. One just wants to get straight into the product, and the other needs an explanation of why certain tools are useful and, in turn, how to use them.

5. Leverage Technology Whenever Possible

The final way to optimise the onboarding process is by leveraging the power of technology. SEON’s rundown of the top 10 onboarding software programs has something for everyone. For example, Appcues allows businesses to build their onboarding process without needing to know code.

Alternatively, if you’ve got a system in place, you can use a product such as Proof Pulse. This software allows a merchant to trigger real-time pop-ups whenever certain actions are performed, such as a new customer joining. These pop-ups are visible to anyone on the site and can act as prompts i.e. if that person successfully joined, then maybe I can as well.

Software designed for onboarding is, perhaps, the best thing you can utilise as a business owner. Why? Because it’s hard. Even the world’s biggest companies with seemingly endless resources have trouble getting new customers through the door. Therefore, if you’re a small business with limited expertise and resources, it pays dividends to invest in technology.

However, you can’t leverage the power of technology mindlessly. You need to put yourself in the shoes of a customer. Walk through the process and ensure you haven’t created a maze they’ll get lost in. Manage this and you can attract more customers, retain more customers, and generally, have a better business overall.

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