How Live Chat Enables SaaS User Onboarding

A mix of product tours, live chat and documentation enable user onboarding. Here's how to set that up.

Benjamin Brandall
9 minute read

Onboarding is the process of guiding users to new value in the product.

Whether that's first value or adopting an advanced feature, managing change at scale is easier said than done - and most products haven't mastered it.

user onboarding dropoff statistics chart

Users expect things to be done quickly, and when challenges pop up they want these solved quickly too. For new users, that's where the focus shifts from signup to success. However, streamlining your customer success isn’t as simple as slapping your company phone number on your website and calling it a day.

Product tours, help docs, and live chat are all important channels for onboarding, supporting, and marketing to users.

In this piece we're focusing on live chat because when onboarding users, products need something faster than traditional support tickets and phone support. Live chat has become an industry standard and its place in the onboarding flow is worth exploring in detail.

You’ve probably already seen live chat in action on a variety of websites. It’s especially common in the ecommerce world where customers make decisions quickly, but is just as important to SaaS.

live chat gif

Our online marketplace today is driven by Customer Success. One-third of customers today say they’d consider switching companies after a single negative customer service experience. If you’re failing to help your customers effectively when they have support questions, you’re not focusing on Customer Success.

In this guide, we’ll address why your SaaS company should be onboarding users with the help of live chat, and how to get started doing just that.

Serving your users quickly

We bet you've tried out a product's competitor in the time spent waiting for a support request - especially as a new user. This common flow aggravates the fact that the user onboarding process for SaaS is already fraught with friction and many opportunities to drop off.

What does this mean for your product? It means live chat is necessary to avoid any customer problems during the onboarding process that can't or won't be solved with the documentation, either because it can't cover every issue or because most users don't read.

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The benefits of using a live chat software are huge. You can:

  • Address concerns quickly, making users less likely to churn
  • Provide automated responses to common customer complains or tech problems
  • Direct customers to support docs and in-product tours to troubleshoot quickly
  • Avoid negative press by failing to handle concerns quickly
  • Provide a 24/7 line of support

Positive support interactions during the onboarding process lead to better customer retention and additional sales. In fact, 52% of consumers say they’ve made an additional purchase from a company after a positive customer service experience. Let’s face reality. Why do most people stop using a product or service? In general, they don’t stop because it’s not useful. They stop because it takes too much effort or time for them to get used to it.

Of the users who sign up for a free trial of your product, 40-60% of them will use it only once and never return. This doesn’t mean you have a failure of a product or even that you’re failing to keep your users engaged. It does mean you might be facing a Customer Success issue, and these need to be resolved in the onboarding stages if you're to build a mchine that generates happy, loyal users.

Live chat solutions defined

Utilizing a live chat software solution doesn’t just help your business become more successful, but it also helps your customer become more successful thanks to your software. As you might expect, these are tied up within each other. To understand Customer Success, first to take a look at the customer experience.

What are the common customer pain points? What journey do they take from awareness to trial to customer? Your live chat needs to align with these actions in order to find the Customer Success solution that’s right for you. From there, you can create a live chat solution that works. Here are the basics steps to follow:

  1. Research live chat solutions and their shared integrations with your stack
  2. Implement, test, and customize the widget
  3. Train and prepare your live chat agents for common questions by providing great documentation and processes
  4. Position your live chat support in an easy-to-find location and make it obvious you provide support
  5. Build in-product prompts that direct users to support when they need it. Chameleon helps with this.
  6. Understand and utilize your metrics to ensure you’re helping users - NPS, CES, and CSAT surveys are great for this

Using live chat to build high-touch relationships

You want your live chats to go beyond the basics. Relationship with big-ticket users need to be high-touch - outstanding, authentic, and trust-building. While many businesses think this can’t be done with live chat, that’s simply untrue. Just like how you can parse out details from an email message to respond with care, you can use chat as a way to address customer concerns in a human way.

Not convinced? Here are some facts and figures to show just how powerful live chat can be when building high-touch relationships for companies of all shapes and sizes:

  • Today, 30% of users already expect live chat to be available on your website
  • Visitors who engage with your business through live chat are worth 4.5 more than users who don’t
  • There’s a 10% increase in the average order value for customers who use a live chat feature

Essentially, your customers already expect there to be a live chat option during onboarding. Users can use this feature to ask questions, purchase upgrades, or even just solve basic workflows. Because live chat can be automated for common questions and concerns, it’s a fast, all-in-one solution for customer support during the onboarding process.

Customer Success is one of the most important things your company has. Phone and email are viable options, but they’re hardly as fast or effective as live chat. Customers are already using your software. Why not give them a help tool that’s built right into the service? Creating a high-touch experience through live chat involves 4 key steps:

1. Intervene at the right time. If your live chat solution isn’t available quickly and easily, it’s not featured at the right time. Understand when users are most likely to need assistance. When it comes to the onboarding process, this is usually early on in their introduction with the platform. It’s also common during critical milestones like plan upgrades.

2. Identify the customer’s problem or tech concern. You need to have a way to understand the customer’s problem in a clear, easy way. This might be as simple as having automated responses for common questions, or a clear and useful process for reps.

3. Provide a simple and convenient solution. Customers don’t want complicated, drawn-out solutions to their problems. These are known as reactive problems. You want to do the exact opposite by providing a solution that requires the least effort from your user. This helps them shift the focus from their problem to their success.

4. Educate your team and improve Finally, you don’t want to let these chats disappear into thin air. Educating your CS and support team with the best ways to deal with common problems helps your team close conversations faster and with more success. In addition, you can use metrics and analytical information about common problems to address these concerns and improve processes.

While these steps might seem complicated, they work together seamlessly in a chat space. It’s all about appearing with your solution at the right time, anticipating common challenges, and being prepared with the right actions and advice.

User onboarding mistakes

Finally, let’s touch on some onboarding mistakes common in SaaS so we can see how live chat will help solve these problems. First, let’s break down just why users stop using a product. In most cases, it’s not because your product doesn’t have the right tools or the ability to solve problems effectively. It’s because users simply don’t have the time or effort to learn all the different features. Onboarding is a long journey, full of pitfalls.

Simply put, if users don't know how to use your product quickly enough to see value before they get frustrated they’ll likely jump to a competitor or look for an alternative. So where do things most often go wrong?

SaaS Onboarding Mistakes:

  • Too many features too fast
  • Overwhelm users with information
  • Not listening to feedback
  • Poor customer service
  • Too technical or rigid

People adopt SaaS tools to make their lives easier not harder. There’s such a thing as too much information, too many complicated features, and too much to learn. It’s often a bit of a balancing act when walking users through their first experience with your product.

Your live chat software is there to swing the pendulum in the other direction. It’s a lifeline your users can call upon for those human-like interactions when needed. It’s not obtrusive, but it’s always there if the customer finds themselves a bit too overwhelmed or in need of specific assistance.

đź’ˇ One way to bake live chat into your product's experience is with Chameleon. Chameleon is a platform for delivering product guidance like tours, tooltips, and self-serve support. You can configure links in Chameleon prompts to trigger a new live chat session, or launch tours from links in support messages.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re onboarding new or existing users with live chat, you should take the necessary steps to ensure everything runs smoothly. Customer Success is more than just a buzzword. It’s a new way of thinking about solving problems in a proactive, tech-savvy way.

Recruiting new users means nothing if those users aren’t finding success on your platform. Live chat solutions offer a way for users to gain a greater understanding of your product without being too aggressive. Try it for yourself to convert your one-time users into paying customers.

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