Success in the User Journey: Sales, Onboarding, Adoption, Lagging


Motivated co- workers sitting next to each other and looking at some contracts.

We hear a lot about a customer’s journey to make a purchase or sign a contract for your product. Companies spend a lot of time and money streamlining the funnel to find customers and attract new business, but perhaps an even more important customer journey is the one that starts as the sales process wraps up. That’s the journey of an existing customer: onboarding, adoption, and hopefully retention (or indicators that the customer is lagging and likely to switch).

Why Retention Matters

Most people are aware that retention is important and know that having a high volume of churn is not ideal, but they may not know the true costs:

  • 33% of people would consider switching to another company after a single bad experience with customer service
  • It costs about five times as much to attract a new customer than retain an existing one, but that could be significantly higher for companies with large or complex products
  • A mere 5% uptick in customer retention could increase profits by 25% to 95%
  • The success rate of selling to an existing customer is between 60-70% while selling to a new customer has a 5-20% success rate

How to Improve a Customer Journey

The customer journey within your company starts when sales hands off a new client to the onboarding team. This is perhaps one of the most critical points in your contact with the client because it sets the stage for future interactions. If your onboarding team is proficient, helpful, and friendly, the client will have a great first impression and feel confident they will continue to get exceptional service from you.

Customer Onboarding

To improve onboarding:

Have a plan for onboarding that is consistent, and you can easily deploy it as soon as the sales team provides information about a new client

Customize the experience for each client’s needs (but use software like GUIDEcx with customizable templates, so you don’t have to start from scratch every time)

Create an onboarding process focused on your clients and their needs, not on the product—too many companies have onboarding that is just a knowledge base in-person to checkboxes on showing how certain features work, but it should be a process built around helping the client realize the software meets his or her needs

Stay in touch with clients throughout the process, so they know exactly what they can expect and when onboarding will be done

Keep everyone on your team and the client-side accountable with visibility into upcoming tasks and reminders

Top 7 ways customer onboarding is important to customer success

Product Adoption

The onboarding process aims to get clients to that “aha” moment in the shortest time possible (often called time-to-value, or TTV). You need clients to reach the adoption phase and begin using the product in a way that benefits their business.

However, increasing adoption rates or improving time-to-value is impossible if you don’t understand customers’ needs. It’s critical that you analyze the “what” and “why” for your customers to see what creates loyal, long-term clients. In other words, what are the actions your top retained users take? Alternately, what actions lead to a high level of churn? Having quality reporting features within your onboarding software and customer retention databases can help you find this information. It’s important for the onboarding and customer success teams to share this information, then brainstorm how to improve onboarding and retention efforts based on what you discover.

Companies that can successfully align the reason for a user purchasing your product (their why) with the features that will create ROI (the what in your software) will get people to that “aha” moment quicker. When clients are using your product in the way that provides them with the most benefit, they’re far more likely to renew.

Another important process for successful companies is the integration between customer onboarding, customer success, and product development. Onboarding and retention teams can help identify concerns or requests from clients that would improve the product and should be sharing that information with product developers regularly.


A lot of companies are aware of and track leading indicators—KPIs like adoption, usage, customer engagement, satisfaction, and net promoter scores. On the other side, lagging indicators are also important to measure and often can help you identify which actions create long-term, loyal customers. The key is understanding the link between lagging indicators and the actions that can improve them. Some important ones to track include:

  • Renewals
  • Growth through cross-selling and upselling
  • Churn

While many companies have this information, the most important thing you can do is identify the clear links between specific actions and positive or negative consequences. For example, if your high-churn customers take 50% longer to reach their TTV, you may need to create a more customized onboarding process to help these clients see the value of the software sooner. A competent and comprehensive approach to measurement and analysis can provide a better understanding of what creates loyal, lasting clients.

Talk With a Guide Today

Discover how GUIDEcx can help you improve efficiency by reducing your customer onboarding timeline and increasing the capacity of your project managers. Our unparalleled professional resources and unwavering commitment to excellence support our industry-leading customer onboarding solution.