Web Design, Thought Leaders

The Top 5 Customer Onboarding Challenges & How to Solve Them

May 18, 2020

by Sam Makad

Marketing Consultant

Onboarding customers is never easy. Simply converting a lead does not necessarily mean that your business will earn a new customer. Learn how to overcome customer onboarding challenges.

When does business successfully acquire new customers? Merely converting leads does not count as gaining new users. If your newly converted prospects don't survive the onboarding phase, you might as well not have had any customers at all. 

Onboarding is the most critical part of a consumer's digital journey and is what determines your relationship with the customer. This phase is not over until the user can use your product without any interference from your end. To understand how vital this phase is, consider the relevant statistics:

In other words, overlooking this essential part of the customer journey can be the difference between winning a customer for life or contributing to yet another churn statistic.

So, if you want to keep the likelihood of churn low, you must be aware of the potential hurdles in the onboarding process and come up with viable solutions for the customers. To that end, consider the five most commonly customer onboarding mistakes and how you can solve them.

1. Abandonment Issues After Sale Completion

Let's address the elephant in the room first. Few things are more frustrating than an election candidate failing to deliver on their promise after being elected. Successful onboarding means nurturing customers before, during, and after a sale is carried out. An example of what a typical situation looks like from the eyes of a customer is:

  1. In the beginning, there is a steady barrage of proactive communication from the business.
  2. This communication continues and is at its best until the sale is completed.
  3. After the sale, the proactive representatives are nowhere to be found until they are reached out to.

So, how do you effectively handle the likelihood that customers stop engaging with your product after the sale has been completed.

Once the customer has been acquired, it is time to swoop in, literally, to deliver on the promise you made to them in the pre-onboarding phase. Implement a live chat on your website and send a customized thank you note to greet your new user or send follow up emails to prevent churn.



Borderlinx has a particularly effective post-sale process with a customized thank you note that engages people in the shipping process.

By keeping customers engaged post-sale, your business can make customers repeat purchasers.

2. Cluttered User Interfaces

Ask people what puts them off the most during the onboarding journey, and they will possibly respond by lamenting tough-to-use interfaces. An interface that overwhelms users with pop-ups, product tour, tutorials, and calls-to-action may cause customers to abandon your website.

When you try to fit in too many things in your app, the UX contracts, people feel swamped with choices, and the clutter messes up the experience.

Don't overwhelm your users with too many options. Present them with explanations of the main features first and how they can begin using them. By incorporating more detailed and dedicated stages, you can help the user understand your product thoroughly and get them to start using it soon.

slack user interface


Slack’s strategy is particularly effective: They dim every feature except for what is highlighted. This helps the user understand the function in question better.

With a sleek, non-cluttered interface, Slack users can better engage with the platform.

3. Failing to Take Feedback Seriously

Unhappy customers are often silent. Some find a way to work around the problems on their own while others just get used to the fallacies of your product and leave without bothering to say anything.

So, if you are not dynamic in your quest to reach out to customers about their troubles with the onboarding process, you will keep losing users.

What is the best way to avoid using customers?

Be proactive in trying to collect feedback from the customer. Ask them for how easy or difficult the onboarding process is, their general view of it, and even how helpful or useful your interference was. A few ways to do it are given below.

4. Treating All Customers the Same

Different people have different expectations from a product/service. Do you think that a software developer will be interested in a tutorial video of C++ for Beginners, or do you think if the sales head of a team would like to know more about how to handle HR and recruitment?

Personalization is important. You cannot simply offer the same services to all your customers because your customers aren't all the same. Their needs, motivation, capacity, and cause to choose your product all vary.

Make sure you customize the onboarding process for different users based on the customer data available can help you make the experience more seamless and engaging for everyone.

Justinmind, a prototyping tool, allows its users to choose the expertise level, namely 'expert' mode and 'beginner' mode, depending upon their skill. Expert users are given instant access to the full interface while 'beginner’ users are made to go through support pages, an interactive tour, and YouTube tutorials of the product.



Make sure you customize the onboarding process for different users based on the customer data available can help you make the experience more seamless and engaging for everyone.

5. Failing to Have a User-Friendly User Interface

Sometimes, the onboarding process is a failure because users feel that the user interface (UI) is too complicated to work with. Customers can get turned off your product if it feels technical or cumbersome to them. The longer it takes for them to be comfortable with your product, the less convinced they will be, and this will breed a feeling within their minds that they wasted their time and money on your product/service.

How can you make sure your UI isn’t too difficult to understand?

According to studies, minimizing the time it takes between a customer adopting a product and the first moment they experience success with it is key to gaining their lasting attention.

Businesses should conduct usability testing because it will help them analyze and determine the friction points with user testing. Usability testing makes clear how users transition from the sign-up phase to using the product for the first time.

For example, Patrick McKenzie of Stripe noticed 18% of visitors skipping one of the most critical steps in his onboarding process, he made his progress indicator cleaner and more straightforward.

stripe screenshot


The result? A 12% overall improvement in people moving through to the next step in the process.

Companies are also well-served by focusing on benefits more than features. For customers, an onboarding process that only preaches the product without explaining the elements is no good. However, by telling users about what the elements can do for them, you can help them understand how soon they can experience their first success.

For example, Evernote, the popular note-taking app, is a perfect example of this. Instead of just highlighting their features, they focus on telling the user what they can achieve with the help of them.

evernote screenshot


With a strong commitment to a user-friendly interface, your business will be more likely to drive revenue.

Use Customer Onboarding to Develop a Long-Term Relationship

When setting about to tackle onboarding challenges, you should always have your customers in mind and think from their perspective. They just want to use your product as soon as possible and don't have the time to go through lengthy onboarding processes.

Today, every effort you make towards making the CX better counts. It helps you gain the attention of the customer and ensures that you aren't forgotten soon. So, keep things simple, clear, and avoid the aforementioned mistakes. If you do this, users will eventually start coming back to you, and that is when your onboarding will finally be complete.

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