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Solid Customer Onboarding Drives Higher Retention, Willingness to Pay

Neel Desai Feb 20 2019

On this episode of the ProfitWell Report, Jonathan Kim, Founder of Appcues, wants to know how a company's onboarding impacts customer willingness to pay and retention.

To answer J-Kim’s question, we looked at just under 500 different software products spread between B2B and B2C and nearly twenty five thousand customers of those products. Here’s what we found.

This was actually the trickiest question to date, because coding onboarding perception and then measuring willingness to pay is a non-trivial task. 



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We coded respondents perception of a company’s onboarding before measuring their willingness to pay. 

Those customers who perceived a company’s onboarding positively had between a 12% and 21% higher willingness to pay than the median. Those on the negative side had a 3% to 9% drop in willingness to pay, indicating that poor onboarding doesn’t necessarily detract too much, but can certainly miss out on some large willingness to pay gains.


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Digging further, we compared those companies with purely functional onboarding to companies making a greater effort, doing things like introducing the team, pointing out how the product’s going to help the customer, etc.

Those with purely functional, but well perceived onboarding, did boost willingness to pay for the product between 8 and 17 percent, but those who additionally focused on value squeezed roughly another 10% in terms of willingness to pay.


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Retention is where things get really interesting. When comparing the first 60 days of customers with poor perceptions of onboarding to those with positive perceptions, those customers with positive perception have much less drop off in the first 21 days of being a customer.


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One point to keep in mind is that we found extremely high fragmentation amongst customers in their perceptions of company’s onboarding. Put simply, most customers didn’t agree that a product had good or bad onboarding, which indicates this is still a new area we’re trying to master as a community within our products.

That being said, data indicates that great onboarding is essential to engraining the value of a product within a customer or at the very least greases the skids of your customer to start to see the value in your product, accelerating their journey significantly.

Well, that's all for now. If you have a question, send me an email or video to and let's also thank Jonathan for sparking this research by clicking the link below to share on Linkedin to give him a shoutout. We’ll see you next week.

By Neel Desai

Product Lead, ProfitWell

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