When people sign up for a product, they want to see a return on their investment as quickly as possible. In fact, there’s a direct connection between customer satisfaction levels and the time it takes for customers to see value from a product or service. For example, McKinsey found that banks reducing time to value for opening an account saw customer satisfaction rise between 10 and 30%.
This connection affects your business. If customers don’t see how your product can benefit them, they’re not likely to keep using it. The best time to prove your value is right at the beginning, during the onboarding process. We’ll show you how to use onboarding to decrease time to value for your customers and increase customer satisfaction and retention in the process.
What Is Time to Value?
Time to value (TTV) is the length of time it takes before a customer sees positive results from using your product and can justify their investment.
Exact time to value will differ, depending on your product or service. HubSpot’s Website Grader offers immediate TTV because you input your website URL and instantly get what you want from the software (a grade). On the other hand, it will take longer to realize value from chatbot software. The chatbot has to be running for a while before you can gather feedback from customers or calculate savings in labor costs to figure your ROI.
Why Should You Decrease Time to Value?
Customers need to know that your product will solve their problem and be worth what they pay for it. If your customer is another business, the purchaser likely needs to justify paying for your product to their superiors. If it takes months to see any benefit to their company, they may decide to look elsewhere.
If you offer free trials, decreasing time to value is even more critical. The point of a free trial is to show customers how great your product is and the value they can get from it. If someone reaches the end of their test period and hasn’t seen any benefit to using your product, why would they pay to continue using it?
5 Customer Onboarding Strategies to Reduce Time to Value
Your onboarding process is the first thing your customers experience after they decide to try your product. That means onboarding is the perfect opportunity to show value right away and convince customers they made the right decision. These strategies will help make for a friction-free onboarding experience that clearly illustrates the value of your company.
1. Send Onboarding Emails
Engage users right away with a series of emails that begins when they sign up for your service. The first email welcomes the customer and offers the information they need to get started. Then, send follow-up emails weekly to keep your product fresh in the customer’s mind and give them tips about using different features. Save time and effort by using a third-party scheduler like Autopilot to automate the email series.
Onboarding emails are an excellent opportunity to highlight parts of the product the customer would find valuable. Even if the reader never clicks through, they still see features they might otherwise never have discovered on their own. This will help them see the benefit of your product without going through every section themselves.
Onboarding emails help customers learn about and engage with your product. One study found that people who receive welcome emails are engaged for 33% longer. This is why even industry giants like Google set up welcome emails for their products:
Google welcome email for G Suite free-trial users
Google uses their welcome email to inform users of the next step and offer resources, like a “frequently asked questions” page.
2. Implement a Digital Adoption Platform
One of the reasons customers abandon a product is because they don’t know how to use it. One survey found that 80% of respondents have deleted an app because they found it difficult or confusing to use. Digital adoption platforms (DAPs) help prevent user frustration and show them how to use each feature.
DAPs have multiple features that make it as easy as possible to learn your product:
- Knowledge-base articles
- Self-help menus
With a DAP, your customer can learn to use every aspect of your product, making it more likely that they will recognize its value quickly. The self-guided nature of DAPs also means customers can find answers to many of their questions without having to submit a support ticket and wait for a response.
DAPs help your team as well. Customer success teams spend 60% of their time ensuring a smooth onboarding process, facilitating end-user adoption, and reducing churn. A digital adoption platform reduces the support tickets they have to deal with so they can focus on more proactive efforts to increase customer satisfaction and retention.
The platform decreases time to value by walking users through the different features of your product so they can see the benefits for themselves. This decreased TTV leads to higher customer satisfaction and end-user adoption rates. When Dimensions UK implemented Whatfix, they increased their user satisfaction score to 5/5, and raised their three-month user adoption rates from 10% to 50%.
3. Assign a Dedicated Customer Success Manager
Another way to decrease time to value for your customers is to have a dedicated employee who is responsible for pointing out features the consumer might find useful. A customer success manager (CSM) acts as a point of contact for your customer. They answer questions and make the onboarding process as smooth as possible.
CSMs personalize the onboarding process. They greet the customer by name in a welcome email and offer tailored recommendations and advice. Because answers and suggestions are personalized for the customer’s needs, they can clearly see the benefits of using your product. And the reduced time to value has a significant impact—almost one-third of surveyed companies said having dedicated customer success efforts resulted in a 20% or more rise in annual recurring revenue.
Proposify, a business proposal software, has a dedicated customer success team. Their CSMs act as an inside adviser to their customers, showing them how Proposify’s software can solve their business problems. Managers even consult with the product team about what new features to add. They can then go back to the customer and show them a new feature added specifically to take care of a customer’s problem.
4. Leverage Data Analytics
Arguably, the best way to make a frictionless onboarding process is to see where customers are struggling. Track how customers are using your product, and see whether there are certain features or parts of the onboarding process where they get stuck.
If you find a particular point in the onboarding flow that multiple users have trouble with, you can address the issue and prevent future customers from experiencing it. Track search queries in the knowledge base to see if many people are asking the same questions. Then, you can fix the root cause of user concerns instead of just addressing support tickets one by one.
Look at feature usage data as well. Are there features that very few people are using? If so, consider redesigning them to make their value more obvious or changing their location within your product, in case they’re being overlooked.
Patreon, a platform where fans can pay creators for content, uses Amplitude to track and analyze subscriber behavior. They watched how potential subscribers moved through the sales funnel and identified several features that increased conversion rates. By implementing these, such as making checkout more secure, Patreon doubled their subscriber conversion rate.
5. Shorten Your Free-Trial Time
It may seem counterintuitive, but a longer free trial doesn’t necessarily lead to a higher conversion rate. When users have less time to play around with the product, they work faster to try out all the different features. As a result, they shorten their time to value.
With a shorter free trial, there is also less time for your welcome emails and support information to get lost in the customer’s inbox. This is especially important if you offer free trials without a credit card. There is no penalty if the customer simply forgets they signed up. A short free trial will encourage them to start using the product right away, which will help them discover how it can benefit them.
Product management software ProdPad cut their free trial from 30 days to 14. They based their decision on the fact that they could usually predict by day nine if the customer would stay. The strategy paid off: the company saw their conversion rates double.
These strategies serve to show the customer how to use your product and how it can solve their business concerns.
Decrease Time to Value with a Seamless Onboarding Experience
You know the benefits of your product and the problems it solves. But you have to convince your potential customers of this. If they have a rough onboarding experience, it is harder for them to learn to use the product and see everything it has to offer.
Adopting customer onboarding technology, like digital adoption platforms, helps make the onboarding process as smooth as possible. This tech helps your customers quickly learn the different features of your product and see the specific value it holds for them. The faster they can learn to use your product effectively, the shorter their time to value.