Hey there,

This week I want to talk about one of my favorite topics:

Concierge onboarding.

That’s what I’m doing right now for the first few users of my new product PaymentLink. There are lots of questions to answer when working on an infant product.

- Who is the right user?
- What barriers prevent adoption?
- What are users actually trying to achieve?
- What do we need to prioritize next?

I believe the best way to answer all these questions is to talk to users.

What is onboarding and why should you do it concierge style?

I like to define onboarding as:

"The process of ensuring people are successful using your product"

Onboarding is often thought of as a way to increase conversion of new users. It often takes the form of signup flow design and drip email campaigns. But how do you know what problems your early users are running into, or more importantly how their own context is influencing their experience.

Concierge onboarding is a one-to-one, personalized approach that can not only guide each user to achieve success but also provide the feedback you need to improve how future users interact with your product.

Spending time talking to each new customer is a great way to understand the problem they are trying to solve and tailor the experience based on their context. For the most part, users don't care about your product, only the progress it helps them achieve in their own situation. 

It's important to remember that making a new user successful will likely require integration with their existing workflows and environment. Product adoption can't happen in a vacuum which is why it's so important to understands new user's own context as deeply as possible.


How can you do concierge onboarding in practice?

The first step to getting started with concierge onboarding is to create an open dialogue with each new user.

1. Identify your users goals. Try sending a personal plain text email that asks a question to start a conversation about the user (people generally like talking about themselves). Some examples of questions to do this include: 

- What problem are you hoping { product x } can solve for you? 

- What was going on in your world today that prompted you to sign up for { product x }?

2. Understand the current barriers. Dig deep into what's holding a user back from achieving their goals. Try to uncover as much of the context surrounding a users existing behavior as possible by asking users to walk you through the current process they use to solving their problem.

- What’s holding you back from { achieving desired goal}?

- What solutions have your tried to solve your challenge with { current problem }?

3. Co-create solutions to bridge the gap. Here's the real secret power of concierge onboarding. Now that you know what a user is trying to achieve and the exact barriers that currently stand in their way you can effectively create a path to user success. Here are some ideas that might help new users unlock the value of your product.

- Educate users by highlighting best practices and known workarounds to improve task completion.

- Offer to do manual work to fill the gaps in your current feature set and ensure the user can still complete their job-to-be-done.

- Create workflow automations using Zapier to connect your product to the tools your users already use.

- Manually upload your users data to their account because you didn't build an importer yet.

- Build and iterate on new features. CAUTION. I would not recommend doing this to help a single customer but in some cases you may learn through the process of working with users that you can build a solution that removes a repetitive barrier to success. 


One note of caution is that concierge onboarding is by its nature, time intensive. So it's a good idea to try to do some qualification for intent. Some strategies I'd recommend to ensure buy-in include:

- Selling concierge onboarding as a premium productized service add-on. eg. Product = $49/month, Concierge onboarding = $300.

- Bundling concierge onboarding with a pre-purchase of your product. eg. Pay for 6-months up front, get Concierge onboarding included for free.

But remember there are 2 objective with concierge onboarding.

1. User success
2. Faster learning

I'd love to hear about your own experiences with concierge onboarding. Have you tried it before? Would you like to try it in the future?  

Hit "reply" and let me know.


Resources I found useful this week:

- Why you can’t sign up for my SaaS app (8-minute read). An oldie but a goodie. Nathan Barry explains why he chose to educate first with ConvertKit.

- ‘Get in the van’ and other tips for getting meaningful customer feedback (10-minute read). Michael Sippey ex VP of Product at Twitter, shares his tips for getting 

- Product marketing strategy at a product first company (9-minute read). Intercom’s Matt Hodges discusses how to align product and marketing efforts.



Stuart Balcombe
Copyright © 2018 Balsm Labs, All rights reserved.

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