Tracking the Effectiveness of Your Onboarding

What is Customer Onboarding?

Customer onboarding, typically possessed by the Customer Success team, consists of all activities involved in proactively guiding a new customer through your product or service. Ideally, they can learn more about how it works and attain maximum value from it.

Why onboarding in SaaS is important

Since free trials and freemium models have now become ubiquitous, customer onboarding happens way before a purchase/subscription. Under this circumstance, a SaaS company needs to win the hearts of prospects before they become customers. An effective onboarding process can improve customer satisfaction, market your product/service through word-of-mouth, and increase revenue. See the importance of customer onboarding in detail.

What you should track

At this stage, aside from building an onboarding process, CSMs (Customer Success Managers) should also be closely tracking and measuring specific metrics to evaluate its effectiveness. There are five main sources where you can track your metrics from:

Customer Feedback

The most direct way to gain insights on customer onboarding is to ask feedback directly from your customers. This can be done through surveys or interviews. You can either check scores on CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) where customers answer the question: “How would you rate your overall satisfaction with the product or service you received?” on a scale of 1-5, and NPS (Net Promoter Score) where customers answer the question: “How likely would you recommend our product or service to a friend or colleague?” on a scale of 0-10. Alternatively, you can directly ask your customers: “What made you decide to try?

However, it is important to note that, by design, feedback may contain flaws. For example, NPS isn’t perfect because it’s subjective and doesn’t give you the reasoning behind the rating. Since actions speak louder than words, you should look at what customers actually do with your onboarding process.

Onboarding Engagement

The first type of metrics you should track is the user engagement with the onboarding content. The following measures can tell you about the quality of the content and its relevance:

  • Engagement rate: Percentage of users who spend time with your onboarding content. Users don’t engage when they find that onboarding content is not helpful with what they’re trying to do.  
  • Completion rate of onboarding: Percentage of users who complete walkthroughs, tutorials, or courses. Users start but don’t finish the onboarding process when they find content is too long or isn’t focused enough.
  • Average time spent on onboarding content: How much time it takes for users to get through it. Each onboarding program is different. However, since onboarding is task-oriented, users want to get answers within a short period of time.

Product Usage

Keep track of user behavior within the product itself to measure the impact of your onboarding.

  • Total Users: Expect to attract more users within an account.
  • User Traffic: Number of users per day or per week.
  • User Logins: Number of login times for each user per day or per week.
  • Average Time Spent on the Product: Time a customer spends on your product/service.
  • Feature Adoption: Number of customers who use the specific features covered in the onboarding and/or the frequency of the feature usage from certain users.
  • Customer Health Score: It’s often difficult to stack rank your customers’ usage of your product because of variations in the size of the account, number of users, etc. A customer health score is an attempt to normalize your customers’ usage data to make it more comparable.


The effectiveness of an onboarding isn’t reflected by the number of tickets raised by a customer for support, but from ticket contents. Ineffective onboarding can generate excessive support requests from users who rely on support representatives to navigate through the software because they still need guidance and help outside the onboarding. You can always provide them with training. An increased number of tickets about questions beyond the topics you covered indicates a successful onboarding.

In short, an effective onboarding should result in:

  • Less tickets about what you’ve already covered in the onboarding.
  • More tickets about further use of your product.

Business Outcome

Improving business outcomes is the ultimate goal for any customer success activities including onboarding, but keep in mind that they could be contributed by many other endeavors inside or outside the customer success team. However, comparing the over time trend along with the feedback, engagement, product usage, and ticket metrics should give you an idea of the effectiveness of onboarding.

  • Free trial conversion rate: When users who only sign up for a free trial learn how to use the features and realize how these can benefit them, they are more likely to become paid customers.
  • Add-on purchase: Customers will have more investment in your product/service when they understand your products better and see a high value because of onboarding.
  • Churn rate: Onboarding has a far-reaching impact through customer journey. Even if the prospects become paid customers, negative onboarding experience will catalyze them to churn when any little problems occur.
  • Average revenue per customer: Run cohort analysis on customer revenue. For example, you can compare revenues from customers who engaged with onboarding to those who haven’t, or compare the changes in revenue before and after the onboarding among the participants.

Tips to Enhance Customer Onboarding Experiences

In order to make customer onboarding easy to follow, welcoming, and effective, here are ten elements you need to include. Meanwhile be aware of some customer onboarding mistakes and learn how to avoid them.


TAGGED WITH: churn, measure, NPS, onboarding
Yuyan (Fiona) Mao

About Yuyan (Fiona) Mao

Hi! I'm Yuyan (Fiona) Mao. I'm currently pursuing my Master's degrees in International Business and Business Analytics from Hult International Business School and received my Bachelor in Economics from University of Maryland. I care about efficiency, profitability and feasibility. I believe in data and communication. So I'm excited to share my knowledge and keep learning at the Data School by Chartio.