Food for Thought: What’s Your Primary Customer Onboarding Model?

Food for Thought: What’s Your Primary Customer Onboarding Model?

January 10, 2018
Training Strategy
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Have you ever heard someone say, “We don’t need customer training; our product is easy enough to understand”?

Yes, your product may be designed well. No, this does not mean your users will understand how to get the most value out of it without an effective onboarding program in place. 

Continue reading to learn more.

To design a great onboarding process, you first need to figure out which of the following three models fits your customer and product type. We like to use the metaphor of getting dinner, as described by Skilljar's Sandi Lin in her CS100 presentation.

1. The self-service model

In the self-service world, you do everything on your own. You find a recipe, go to the grocery store, then cook and clean up. In the SaaS world, an example of this would be buying a domain name or signing up for Spotify. Companies with this type of model often have:

  • A simple product
  • A high volume of users
  • Freemium or low all-commodity volume (ACV)
  • B2C, Dev tools

2. The low-touch model

The low touch model is similar to a taco truck. The vendor supplies a few food options, but you still do a lot on your own. The options are limited, there’s no place to sit, and maybe you even get your beverages. This type of model is common in sales and marketing. For instance, someone may use Google Adwords, which requires some specialized knowledge but far less than, say, a full CRM implementation. Companies with this type of model often have:

  • A mildly complex product
  • Varied use cases
  • Some friction in adoption
  • SMB, small team users

3. The high-touch model

Finally there’s the high-touch model, where you’re at a restaurant with the best menu and service, valet parking, and organic local gluten-free ingredients. This model aligns with businesses introducing new ways to use a product, as that requires education around best practices. One example of this might be surgeons using Google Glass. Companies with this type of model often have:

  • New product/behaviors
  • Extensive implementation
  • Many stakeholders involved
  • Enterprise users


Think about which of these models is the best fit for your customers and product. Also, don’t worry if you have customers in multiple categories. Identify your priority customer base first, then build out your strategy from there.

Where companies run into challenges if there is a misalignment between what you think your customers wants and how they actually behave when implementing your product. Remember, every team wants to scale, but not every product is self-service.


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