How To Do Really Simple Customer Onboarding

I wanted to go after more customers, but Kevin wouldn’t let me.

He said,

Sure, customers are signing up. But they’re also churning off.

No way! I talk to customers all the time. They love

So I looked at the numbers to show Kevin he was being delusional. And...

Holy shit, our customers hate us!

We were signing up about 1 customer a day... And losing 15-18 per month. Damn it. Kevin is right.

We were losing most of our hard-won customers and trying to win more without fixing the leak would be stupid.

How are your successful customers doing it?

We studied what makes them use and benefit from SoHelpful.

First, we looked at customers using SoHelpful, and those who weren't.

We found that if a customer gets at least 1 Helpful call within his first month, he gets motivated to get on more, and stays for at least 6 months.

Then, we asked these customers what they were doing to get people to call them.

Armed with this knowledge, we can now teach our other customers to do those also. Awesome!

How to go about teaching them?

Is it just me or is this really hard?

The how-tos on customer onboarding are all about optimizing the UI and sending customer lifecycle emails.

Stuff like:

Since our team is great at writing but dreadful at design, we decided to ignore the UI stuff and write an email course.

“Helpful Marketing Challenge,” we called it.

The idea is to teach our customers what the most successful SoHelpfulers do. We'll send them daily, bite-sized, action-oriented messages.

It's hard to get people to change behavior and take action.

But we hypothesized that they'll follow through if we help them make a little bit of progress everyday... At the end of 30 days, a customer will have successfully gotten 3-5 Helpful calls -- the AH-HA! moment.

Then they'll see how valuable our product is and stay forever, right? Yey!

Since our sales course works so well -- people love it and free subscribers convert very well to paying customers -- we were supremely confident that this email course will work well too.

So we spent 2 months writing our onboarding emails.

And guess what??? didn't work.

It took a lot of time (your scarcest resource, especially if you're a small team)...

Customers continued to churn off...

AND we trained our customers to ignore emails from us.

Going back to what's important: helping customers achieve goals

That month, we experienced the highest churn, ever.

Customers told us they felt overwhelmed. They blamed themselves for not taking action.

And they'll still not sure how to use SoHelpful.

This is when we realized that for most startups:

Is it just us? We know it's not, because we started talking to other startups and here's what they said:

I expected do this customer onboarding thing for a week. Now it's 2 months later, and I'm still at it.

It's hard enough to optimize the UI, but because things keep changing, it feels like an absolute waste of time.

So we asked ourselves:

What are we trying to do? And is there an easier way to do it?

The answer we got was ridiculously simple.

Ultimately, doing these will make them more successful users and entrepreneurs.

Since we're having such a difficult time guessing these things, why not just get them on the phone?

So we did that. "Concierge Onboarding," we called it.

And it worked!

Without doing anything else, we reduced our churn from losing 6 out of 10 people every month, down to 2 people.

In fact, nobody I've gotten on a Concierge Onboarding call with has ever canceled.

Of course, we have a small sample size and it's impossible to get those results forever...

But if you're like the startups we’ve talked to, you’re losing too much money from customers churning off. But optimizing the UI and getting customer lifecycle emails right are too hard.

The insanely simple solution?

Do Concierge Onboarding.

Concierge Onboarding: The easiest and most effective way to onboard new users

Just get them on the phone.

Here's what I do once we're on the call:

Then I ask if they want me to follow up within 2 weeks.

Getting on the phone is already unexpected.

Asking to follow up definitely exceeds expectations...

But when they received my (scheduled) email to ask how things are going?

They are blown away.

Again, nobody I've done this to has canceled yet.

Is it worth 30 minutes of your time to get a customer for life? Of course.

Remember, with SaaS, every renewed subscription is a new sale.

You're probably thinking you're too busy to do this for all your customers yourself.

So in the next post, we'll talk about how to hire your first customer success agent who can do Concierge Onboarding for you.

What is Concierge Onboarding? Read about All Aboard!

Photo credit: Purple Slog