Dear Abby Hammer: Tracking Engagement During Onboarding

By Abby Hammer posted 01-14-2021 12:31 PM



Dear Abby Hammer,

As my company looks ahead to 2021, we’ve put a big emphasis on mastering and accelerating our customer onboarding process. To put it simply, our new onboarding mantra is “better, faster, stronger!”

As we look to refine customer onboarding, we’ve taken a hard look at engagement metrics. Are there any specific metrics you suggest we consider?, or perhaps unconventional metrics that may be useful in guiding customer engagements?

 -Seeking Metrics That Matter



Dear Seeking Metrics That Matter,

I applaud your team for taking a hard look at optimizing your onboarding process. Refining this critical step of the customer lifecycle will pay big dividends. By doing so you will accelerate your customer onboarding timeline and help your customers hit the adoption stage (and realize product value) even quicker.

As you stated, focusing on the right engagement metrics is key to improving your onboarding process. Your chosen metrics should prioritize an efficient onboarding process, but you should also keep in mind that not all metrics are one-size-fits-all. Ultimately, your metrics should represent the goals and desired outcomes of your customers.

Check out a few of my favorite onboarding-specific engagement metrics below. I’ll provide a description of each metric and explain their importance to the onboarding process.


Activities Taken In-App

Knowing that onboarding is a key step towards product adoption, activities taken within your application (logins, actions, etc.)  are a powerful indicator of success. These metrics provide insight about how new customers are progressing in terms of product adoption. 

  • Time In-App
    • How do users’ time spent in-app compare against customers in similar onboarding journeys?
      • Is this client an early adopter, a lagger, or on track?
    • Features Used & Value Derived
      • Are customers using the features that correspond with their reason for purchase?
      • More importantly do these features being used align with the value your customer is seeking? Does it ultimately provide ROI?
        • If you are an email provider, a customer’s feature usage may look positive if they are sending 10,000 emails a week. However, if email click and open rate data is poor, your customer is ultimately realizing little product value.
      • Other Success Behaviors
        • Do users exhibit success behaviors? i.e. your most successful customers use feature A & B while sending at least 100 emails per week from their platform?
        • For those who do not, how can you guide them towards desired behaviors?


Milestones Completed (Onboarding Journey)

Another powerful way to view onboarding metrics involves charting your specific milestones against your onboarding journey. By looking into metrics like time to completion, you can easily benchmark customer onboardings. You can also identify areas and interactions that lend themselves to automation.

By comparing similar segments (product type, customer industry, etc.), you can develop standard metrics around each step of this journey. This will allow you to identify customers whose onboarding experiences are deviating from the norm. Establishing standards also enable you to identify onboarding milestones more readily. Eliminating these snags will not only improve client satisfaction but move you towards value realization even sooner.

Another benefit of breaking this journey into distinct steps is the ease in which your team can identify areas for automation. Whether using Plays, Journeys or other tools, smart automation can speed up your customer’s time to value. Automating onboarding can be approached from both proactive and reactive perspective:

  • Reactive Automation:
    • If you are tracking journeys against expected milestones, you’ll know when (and where) customers are not progressing as expected.
      • Ex: Deploy WalkThrough, Create Task for CSM
    • Proactive Automation:
      • Is your customer achieving their expected milestones?
        • Ex: Send an In-App congratulating them.
      • Has a customer mastered sticky feature #1?
        • Ex: Introduce sticky feature #2 via automated email

Just remember that automation around the onboarding journey is an ongoing process. Paying attention to the success of this automation will help your team better understand when customers just need a push versus where direct human intervention is necessary.


Post-Onboarding Surveying

Deploying surveys following your onboarding process can also unlock key insights. This is particularly true when it comes to metrics like customer satisfaction and ease of onboarding.

  • NPS (Net Promotor Score)
    • How much effort does a customer need to exert to have a response answered, purchase an upgrade, or have a request fulfilled?
    • Do customers view your team as a prompt, reliable, and helpful partner?
  • CES (Customer Effort Score)
    • How much effort does a customer need to exert to have a response answered, purchase an upgrade, or have a request fulfilled?
    • Do customers view your team as a prompt, reliable, and helpful partner
  • CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score)
    • Are your customers satisfied with your company, product, and interactions with you?
    • Do results show that customers are well positioned for success (satisfied and excited) as they move into the adoption phase?

Most teams will reply upon NPS and CES surveys for this stage of the customer lifecycle. That said, the survey type used matters less, but rather how you respond is what is important. When responding to post-onboarding feedback don’t just consider each individual customer, but rather any overall trends.


Support Tickets and Self Service Resources

Support Tickets and other Self-Service Resources (like videos, guides, knowledge bases) provide telling metrics around your onboarding process. They can show the good, bad, and ugly by providing Customer Success teams a means to identify specific friction points. Consider the following metrics and the conclusions they can help us draw:

  • Number or Frequency of Support Tickets Opened
    • Is the customer being supported enough by their CSM or Implementation specialist?
    • Are resource materials complete and thorough enough for self-service?
    • Are customers repeatedly experiencing specific roadblocks at certain parts of the onboarding journey?
  • Support Ticket Time Response
    • How long do customers in the onboarding stage wait for responses to their support tickets?
    • If response times are over 24 hours, how does this impact your customer’s adoption (and time to value-realization?)
  • Support Ticket Content
    • Do specific topics come up frequently? Are their gaps in self-service content?
    • Are customers appropriately using their CSM / Implementation Team / and Support Teams properly and most effectively?
    • Are misdirected requests being properly re-routed
  • Engagement with Help Guides, Videos & other Knowledge Base Resources
    • How much handholding does your onboarding process entail? Are customers using these resources to their full advantage?
    • Which guides/videos/resources are being used? Which are not being used?
    • How can CS automation help serve up the right content at the right time?

I hope these metrics help your team think through customer engagement during the onboarding process. Just remember that there are many more metrics to consider, especially those directly related to your product or industry. By monitoring and reacting to these metrics that matter, your team will more quickly help customers realize product value.

-Abby Hammer