Phase Two: Onboarding

Almost always, early success plays a huge role in a customer’s long-term product loyalty. If a product is complex, full competence may take a while to acquire—but an onboarding program should get started as soon as a new license becomes active and should deliver basic competence within the first 90-100 days.

Some common problems during the onboarding phase:

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Feature fixation: Too often, onboarding programs are little more than extended product demos. An effective onboarding process has an entirely different purpose: it should teach users to be successful with important, real-world tasks.

A better approach: Survey current users to identify their “top tasks” and make sure these top tasks become the core of all your basic onboarding programs.


One-size-fits-all training: If you’re delivering a product that’s used by several different customer segments—for instance, end users, developers, channel partners, and admin support staff—offering a generic onboarding program is likely to be unsuccessful (and unpopular).

A better approach: Create several modular versions of the generic onboarding program to give each key user segment customized content that’s highly relevant to their specific role.

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Single-channel delivery: More than ever, users have strong personal preferences for how learning materials are delivered. Some prefer an instructor-based option; others insist on printed material; still others want video, web, and other forms of digital learning.

A better approach: Whenever possible, give new users a choice of onboarding delivery channels. And if you’re selling enterprise products that require group training, be sure to provide on-site training option led by an experienced instructor.

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Flawed pricing incentives: If your customers feel that your onboarding programs are too expensive, they’ll often cut corners by limiting the number of fully-trained employees. Naturally, these poorly-trained employees will have more problems that will later raise your tech support costs.

A better approach: Include the cost of your initial onboarding program in your basic license fees to broaden penetration and ensure that every new customer gets off to the same start. Then, you can charge competitive prices for advanced training and additional services like mentoring.