5 Customer Onboarding Metrics Every SaaS Should Monitor

Analytics Jun 6, 2022 11 minutes read

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    Have you ever signed up for a SaaS app only to spend 5 minutes digging around and abandoning it because the UX is confusing and you are not sure what to do next? 

    This happens all the time, and it can be prevented with a proper customer onboarding strategy. 

    Customer onboarding is all about helping customers use and get value from your product so they stick around.

    In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at some common customer onboarding models and metrics you can use. 


    What Is Customer Onboarding?

    The goal of customer onboarding is to help your customers derive value from your product or service from the get-go. A successful onboarding plan helps customers navigate your product and see some early wins so they are hooked and keep using it. 

    This is most prevalent for SaaS/software and membership products where people are quick to churn if they don’t immediately get your product. 

    Contrary to what many think, customer onboarding isn’t just the domain of customer success professionals and/or account managers. It is something that touches nearly every aspect of your company from sales and marketing to customer success, support, product, engineering, and even finance. 

    Most Common SaaS Onboarding Models 

    There isn’t a one-size-fits all approach to customer onboarding. In fact, the most common onboarding model we came across is the self-service model, and only 43.48% of our respondents used it. 

    While not an overwhelming majority, a self-service onboarding model relies heavily on product tours, in-app tutorials, KB articles and videos, and marketing emails to get a customer successfully onboarded.

    most common onboarding model

    26.09% use the high-touch model (i.e. typically rely on several calls and in-depth training from a customer success manager), and 19.57% use a low-touch model.

    NOTE: For added context, we surveyed 47 SaaS professionals as well as adjacent agencies/consultants that work with SaaS businesses. 

    SaaS Customer Onboarding Duration 

    Given that 63.05% of our respondents use either a self-service or low-touch model for customer onboarding, it is no surprise that the time it takes to onboard a new customer is short. In fact, for 40.43% of our respondents, customer onboarding takes a day or less. And, onboarding lasts about a week for another 36.17% of respondents. 

    customer onboarding duration

    Customer onboarding takes longer if you have a more complicated product that requires a high-touch onboarding model. In fact, for 33.34% of those who stated they practice the high-touch model, customer onboarding takes at least a month.

    5 Essential SaaS Customer Onboarding Metrics You Should Track 

    Just like any other aspect of running a SaaS, the only way to improve is to actually measure and monitor it. SaaS customer onboarding is no different.  

    That’s why it is essential to track key metrics like TTV, product adoption rate, customer progress, and customer response rate, among many other metrics. 

    customer onboarding metrics

    Let’s take a closer look at the 5 most important ones.

    1. Time to Value (TTV)

    With 59.57% of our respondents measuring Time to First-time Value, this is the most popular metric to measure and monitor. This makes sense given that the faster customer understands a product and sees some value from it, the more likely they’ll stick around. 

    “The most important metric we track is TTV, or Time to Value, indicating how long it takes our customers to realize our software’s value,” says James Diel of Textel. “We want to see that TTV as low as possible because our B2B product needs to work for our clients quickly so they can earn more revenue and keep their business on track.

    If our product takes too long to onboard, our clients lose money and receive no value—a big problem. We’ve built our onboarding process to provide thorough education while encouraging our clients to get their hands on the product. Using a customer success plan, we showcase our value from day one and make it immediately accessible.”

    Admir Salcinovic of PriceListo agrees, “Time to Value is one metric we focus on when analyzing the performance of our SaaS customer onboarding. Our onboarding process is designed in such a way that it allows customers to attain early value in the shortest possible time.

    While this is the ideal approach, customer success teams teach the complete features to customers at once. This leads to a series of issues because the time to value is significantly extended. When customers buy products or services, their curiosity is at its highest point. Over time, this curiosity tends to reduce. The more time expended before customers get value from these products or services, the more doubts they harbor concerning them. 

    As a result, it is a priority for us to educate customers on the features that will get them closer to achieving their goals. In cases where customers’ goals seem to be complicated and might require time, we offer them an early value that establishes a level of trust for our services.”

    Linda Thompson of Notta.ai adds, “Time is important because it determines whether the customer will convert or not. Increasing the time to value, will ultimately mean fewer purchases in the future. 

    Overloading your customers with features at the beginning of the onboarding process is one of the mistakes commonly committed by saas businesses. Using a customer-centric onboarding process has been instrumental with reducing our time-to-value ratios. 

    At the end of the day, a customer will purchase your product because the product solves a particular problem in their lives. In practice, customers tend to get bored when the learning period takes too long. Therefore, marketers should always seek to use the particular feature required by the customer as a tool to reduce the time-to-value.”

    TTV is particularly useful when combined with other metrics like the total percentage of people that stick around for XX days. 

    Daniel Ndukwu of UsefulPDF says, “There are two metrics that we focus on for onboarding.

    1. The time it takes to get to first value.
    2. The total percentage of people that actually achieve first value.

    If we can optimize the first one then it has a positive impact on the second one. The second one has a direct impact on the number of people that stay with the application over an extended period of time.”

    2. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

    Customer lifetime value (CLV) is the estimated amount a customer will spend during the time they are a customer. Usually, the quicker a customer sees initial value, the longer they will stick around, which has implications for everything from customer acquisition costs to churn. 

    3. Customer Engagement

    57.45% of our respondents measure product adoption rate. This is one of the simplest metrics you can use to track how engaged customers are with your product.  

    “We mainly focus on customer engagement during the onboarding stage when checking the strength of our customer onboarding plan,” says Jane Hamitt of Fastpeoplefinder. “Waiting till the end of the onboarding process to determine whether the customer likes the product or not is a recipe for a failing onboarding process. Tracking the engagement levels during onboarding give you insights into whether the customers will use the product or not.”

    James Fyfe of Portant adds, “Among all the customer onboarding metrics available, we are mostly focusing on customer engagement. Yes, the customer may have already purchased the services but if they’re not engaging with it, then there might be something wrong or they might have some more clarification on how to use it.

    Onboarding is important since it could make or break a business, especially for SaaS companies. Therefore, customer engagement should be focused on. So in cases wherein new users still haven’t used or had any engagement with the service they bought, issues could easily be addressed.”

    PRO TIP: Listen to our podcast to learn how KlientBoost’s founder, Jonathan Dane identified and improved one metric that helped the company boost customer engagement, customer retention, productivity, and employee happiness.

    4. Number of Tickets Raised by New Customers

    Another indicator of customer engagement is number of tickets raised, which 48.94% of our respondents are actively tracking. 

    “The tickets raised by the new customers tell us a lot about SaaS customer onboarding,” says Mike Perez of Spacelift. “Getting many tickets from the new clients means the onboarding is unsuccessful, and the clients have many unanswered questions. It shows the lack of documentation, training, and resources needed to successfully onboard the customer. There will always be some questions, so you have to analyze if the queries are due to onboarding failure or the ‘product’ itself. 

    For example, if the ticket is about the product feature, it could mean the issue is with the UI/UX, as it is not navigating the user in the right direction. Customers may feel frustrated if they find the product overwhelming. They will turn to the support with their questions. That’s why the first few tickets by the customer reveal the effectiveness of the SaaS customer onboarding.”

    Related: 15 Proven Ways To Reduce Your Average Support Ticket Response Time

    5. Process Completion Rate

    48.94% of our respondents are also tracking process completion rate, which is important for understanding how long it takes someone to be successfully onboarded. 

    “The metric we focus most on when analyzing the customer onboarding process is Process Completion Rate,” says Jonathan Zacks of GoReminders. “This metric tells us how many customers who begin the process take it through to completion and become a customer of the business. It is important for us to determine the percentage of visitors who complete the process, and to find out at what stage those who do not complete it drop out.

    If the percentage of completion rates begins to drop below an acceptable level, we know that it is time to investigate what changes can be made to the onboarding process in order to reverse the trend.” 


    Monitor Your Most Important Customer Onboarding Metrics in Databox 

    We think that your time should be spent actively improving your customer onboarding experience and talking to customers, not spending hours adding data in an Excel spreadsheet. 

    That’s where Databox comes in handy.

    You can connect hundreds of sources, including Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Intercom, and HubSpot to add your customer onboarding data to your dashboard in a matter of minutes. Plus, if you don’t want to start from scratch, we even have 300+ free dashboard templates you can use to get started. Ready to build your own customer onboarding dashboard? Create your free Databox account here.

    Article by
    Jessica Malnik

    Jessica Malnik is a content strategist and copywriter for SaaS and productized service businesses. Her writing has appeared on The Next Web, Social Media Examiner, SEMRush, CMX, Help Scout, Convince & Convert, and many other sites.

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