Can Your Software as a Service Company Get By with Self-Service Onboarding?

Establishing no-touch onboarding takes a data-driven approach and planning to provide optimal user experiences.


Software as a Service companies have automated many of the engagements that were once a part of software sales. Users can now search for software solutions online, purchase them, upload them or set up an account on a browser, and begin using them – all without ever talking to a human. So, is it a good idea to establish self-service onboarding as well?

The Purpose of Onboarding

Onboarding is the process of providing information and guiding users through training to learn to use your software. Effective onboarding leads users to the aha moment in which they realize the value your solution offers. Users who see the value are less likely to churn, more likely to have teams with a high adoption rate, and more apt to recommend your software to others.

It’s easy to see how effective onboarding can increase business growth. However, keep in mind that the best onboarding method for your users and your software may be different from the optimal methods at another company.

You can categorize your options for onboarding by the “touch” involved:

  • High-touch: If your software is complex, for example, meant to be used by enterprise teams or designed for IT or other skilled professionals, you will probably find that arranging for one-to-one training and guidance is beneficial. High-touch onboarding provides clients with dedicated account managers who can guide users through a software tour, help them choose their first projects, and be on hand to provide support.
  • Low-touch: If your product requires some guidance to ensure users get the most value from it, but it’s not necessary for a dedicated resource to walk through a user step-by-step, low-touch may be a good choice. This method allows your onboarding team to interact with users through emails or chats, monitor progress with analytics and reach out if they need to get users back on track.
  • No-touch: Software as a Service companies that develop solutions that are relatively easy to use and intuitive can provide self-service resources for onboarding. Users refer to onboarding materials, such as video tutorials, a knowledge base, and in-app support, as needed.

What Does Good Self-Service Onboarding Look Like?

Software as a Service companies that determine that self-service onboarding is the most effective for their users don’t need FTEs to guide new users through training. However, they do need to do quite a bit of work upfront to ensure users have onboarding experiences that build a foundation for long-term relationships.

Self-service doesn’t mean simply publishing data and letting users fend for themselves. You need to carefully consider a new user’s journey and organize content so they have what they need to get started and then build on their skills.

Tips for enhancing self-service onboarding include:

  • Welcome users with messaging, personalized if possible.
  • Create user-centric content rather than software-centric – focus on users’ needs and problem-solving.
  • Allow users to find a learning track that helps them address their priorities rather than forcing them through content they aren’t interested in or ready to see.
  • Leverage data from your current user base to answer common questions or highlight features that are most valuable.
  • Analyze user data to pinpoint any roadblocks that users experience and ensure you provide resources for how to overcome them.

Why Software as a Service Companies Also Need a Backup Plan

One of the benefits of self-service onboarding is the cost savings for your business by not requiring employees to devote their time to the process. However, users may need to speak to a human from time to time, and providing a way to contact customer support for help is essential to ensuring you have your users’ backs as they learn your software.

An increase in the volume of calls will also indicate that you need to revise the resources you provide for self-service onboarding so more users can navigate and learn your software on their own. Once you land on the right strategy, self-service onboarding can be an effective way to help users learn how to derive value from your solution and familiarize themselves with your company and your brand.

Make data-driven decisions, plan your strategy, monitor results, and ensure all your users have the opportunity to reach the aha moment when they realize your software is a valuable part of their tech stacks.

Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.

Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.