Many businesses today focus on delivering quality rather than just making a sale. It is obvious, as building meaningful relationships with your customers is the key to beating off stiff competition. The early stage of fostering a connection with your users is customer onboarding. This process can either become the beginning of long-term loyal interaction, or your product may just get lost in the pile of ‘tried but not activated’.

So let’s find out what is intimidating in the process of customer onboarding and discover ways how it can be improved with a CRM system.


What is customer onboarding and why bother?

Customer onboarding, in a nutshell, is the initial process of new users starting to use your product. It includes signing up, activating a product, and the early stage of use.

This process is one of the essential stages, as it builds the foundation of the relationships between a customer and a product, as well as the customer and your company.

Customer onboarding is the first impression that matters. Basically, it involves steps:

  1. Signing up (Guiding your potential customers through free trials to the sign-up and making this process as easy as possible)
  2. Welcome email (Thanking for signing up and a CTA button to get customers back into a product)
  3. First log-in (Smooth initial stage with a guided tutorial that helps your customers to get started)

It all seems pretty clear. However, how would you feel about getting the most out of customer onboarding and even making it an effective part of your marketing strategy? Let’s dive in and discover customer onboarding challenges and ways to overcome them.

Common customer onboarding challenges

Guiding your potential users to activate your product can become a tough nut to crack due to some common challenges on the way. 

  • Difficulty turning free trial users into paying customers

You may easily target users and succeed in reaching the desired number of free trial downloads, but then it may become difficult to turn them into active customers.

  • Users not using the full potential of a product

Customers sign up and activate your product, but for some reason stick to some basic features without using all the potential. As a result, users don’t see the maximum value of a product and stop using it after some time.

  • Users ignoring your emails

Bombarding your customers with irrelevant emails will result in hundreds of emails left unread and failure to convert new users or offer valuable experiences to your regular customers.

4 ways to boost the onboarding process with CRM

So the question is ‘How to deal with all these challenges and turn the onboarding process into an effective campaign?’ Here are 4 easy-to-follow ways that will enhance customer onboarding and help you drive more sales.

1. Leverage free trials 

Free trials offer a unique opportunity for your potential customers to get involved with your product. This way a customer can test it and see all the benefits for themselves. If your product meets the customer’s needs, it means you have a new lead, or does it?

Offering a free trial is just a part of the actual sales process and this is where CRM provides a great deal of help. Firstly, with CRM assistance free trial downloads equal collecting databases of potential customers. Make sure that you send a welcome email and a follow-up tutorial email to those who downloaded a free trial. This is the first stage of breaking the ice.

Secondly, don’t hesitate to offer paid version capabilities of a product for a limited period of time. Doing so lures the potential audience into wanting the features that exist in the software version that needs to be purchased. 

Finally, remind them about purchasing your product after a free trial with another email. CRM will be of great help here as well. It enables collecting data of customers who meet the criteria of potential target audience and who don’t. This way you can create a segmented list of customers that are most likely to buy your product.

Another essential CRM benefit involves examining how the users interact with a free trial. One such example can be monitoring users who have struggles with a product. If they frequently check tutorials and FAQs, they may just bail on your product thinking it’s not for them. However, at this stage, you can connect with them via email or messenger, offer a bit of assistance, and don’t lose a potential customer.

2. Improve cross-selling 

Using CRM can also help you boost cross-selling. Say, you’ve succeeded in turning your leads into paying customers. Is that it? Was this your final goal? Or maybe you’d like to sell some other programs to them?

By using CRM you can promote upsells to higher billing or offer other suitable products with the help of convincing lifecycle emails. CRM can help you collect data about users’ behavior and then foresee which other products they may like. This way a sales rep can easily access a customer profile, analyze all the data and send the right email at the right time.

What is more, by examining repetitive purchasing patterns, your salespeople can better understand customers’ needs and then use this knowledge to drive more new leads. 

Cross-sell recommendations are more accurate with a CRM system, as they are based on precise data collected regularly. This way not only will you improve sales, but you will also foster stronger connections with your users by recommending a perfectly suitable product that they really need.

Keep in mind that cross-selling emails have a lot to do with building strong and loyal relationships. To do so you need to create a well-thought-out email marketing strategy:

  • Manual sending or email automation
  • Promotional or sales emails
  • How to address your customer
  • What content to include

3. Automating custom onboarding 

Automation is a great tool to ease the routine of your salespeople. Plus, smart analytics and automation lead to better decisions regarding the right actions at the right time. One such example may be sending an email at a perfectly chosen time period thanks to in-depth analytics of customer behavior.

However, make sure you don’t overdo and overgeneralize automation. In such a case, constant irrelevant emails may only irritate your users.

The smart way to do it is to automate personalized custom onboarding. With a CRM system, you can examine a customer’s behavior, analyze how they interact with your product, and send a personalized email. Whether a potential user started to fill in the registration form and then left it unfinished, or your regular customer stopped using your product – the way you approach a customer via email should be individual.

What is more, complete website speed testing to ensure that your website is optimized. This is essential for effective automated custom onboarding. Otherwise, no matter how well-thought-out your onboarding process is, customers will just get annoyed with the slow site speed. You may lose up to 53% of mobile users if a page loads for more than three seconds.

4. Enhance overall customer experience 

According to a recent investigation, customers stop using the product not because there’s been a price change, but rather because they’ve experienced poor customer support. Despite your product being ultimately flawless and easy to navigate, you should be ready to assist users even with something that may seem pretty simple. Invest time in coaching your sales reps to deliver personalized customer assistance with a product.

You need to understand your users better. Collect all the relevant data with a CRM system to study even the slightest behavior and action changes.

Don’t hesitate to monitor and examine users’ feedback and satisfaction. By leveraging a robust CRM system, your employees will find it easier to use a personalized approach with customers. Even a slight tweak in addressing your users by name rather than Mr or Ms has a huge impact on interaction with your customers. This way you can receive honest reviews and suggestions by building trust-based relationships with your users.

Speed up the response rate if you want to foster a better customer experience. If something can be automated into a self-service experience with Machine Learning or AI, do it. If it can’t be programmed, ensure that your users will receive a fast reaction and valuable assistance.

Finally, check if your users make the most of your product. If not, show them, guide them, and train them. This will demonstrate that you care about their struggles and experience, and help them enjoy the true value of your product.


A CRM system isn’t a holy grail when it comes to improving customer onboarding. Still, it’s a very powerful tool that can facilitate many processes and open new opportunities for building stronger relationships with your users, as well as showing them the value of your product. A good CRM will empower your sales reps and help you coach your team to make customer onboarding smooth and effective.