The Difference Between Client Onboarding and User Onboarding


Many people use the terms “client onboarding” and “user onboarding” interchangeably, but these two things have some key differences. Understanding the differences can help you choose the right onboarding software to meet your needs as you bring in new customers.

User Onboarding

User onboarding consists of a set number of steps that get a person set up to engage with your product. That often includes setting up a username and password and sending some basic instructions or short videos on how to start using your software program. It may also include helping people set up preferences or permissions within your system. In general, it’s a pretty quick process to get them up and running. For many companies, it doesn’t require an entire project management software, just simple automated communications.

Client Onboarding

Client onboarding, on the other hand, is often a longer and more in-depth process than user onboarding. It will usually take several weeks (perhaps even months, depending on the complexity of your product or service), and it’s when your onboarding team establishes and builds a relationship with a new client.

Your client onboarding process may include one or more steps to help with user onboarding. For example, suppose clients are preparing to use your accounting software program. In that case, one of the steps in your overall client onboarding process might be to set up all the usernames, passwords, preferences, and permissions within the system for the individual users. However, your full client onboarding process goes far beyond just giving out usernames and passwords.

To build this relationship, it’s essential that your team can communicate with the new clients throughout the process, complete all your tasks on time, and provide a five-star experience, so the new clients are ready to succeed.


One key feature differentiating user onboarding from client onboarding is the concept of time-to-value (TTV). Part of your onboarding goal for more complex products or services should be to help the client see the value or ROI potential as quickly as possible. The sooner you can get clients to their TTV point, the more likely they will stay with you for the long term. Every company should know where clients achieve that TTV, but if you don’t, take a step back from your onboarding to figure it out using data from past clients who stayed or left or by reviewing the key benefits and differentiating features of your product.

Successful client onboarding often includes user onboarding, but it’s more about building a relationship than just setting up a user in your system.

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.