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  • Writer's pictureMarc Chia

3 Ways to Implement In-application Onboarding, Training and Support

Updated: Jun 25, 2020

Getting users signed up to use your Software as a Service(SaaS) product is only part of the puzzle for business success. In order to grow your SaaS business and form a strong core of clients, it is crucial to retain your existing users and eventually convert them to power users so that they can lead and champion the full capabilities of your product.


Alongside traditional means of providing such services like training, webinars and support calls a key tool to ease this process is the use of in-application tools. These are tools that are inbuilt into your application itself and is meant to offer a seamless way for users to access critical information when they want it and thus enable self-learning and self-help. Crucially they are scalable solutions that can also help relieve pressure on support and training resources.


In the following we introduce 3 in-application tools to support your onboarding, training and support activities:

  1. Tooltips – A unobtrusive way to provide quick and simple information and help users navigate.

  2. Product Walkthroughs – A structured product tour especially helpful for onboarding and complex processes.

  3. Chatbots – A way to automatically provide personalized support.


Tooltips

+ Unobtrusive

+ Keeps UX/UI clutter free

- Inappropriate for complex interactions/long processes

Tooltips or hoverboxes are tiny windows or overlays that appear on screen when additional information about a specific interface component needs to be shared with the user. The iconic Google search page shows a tooltip when the cursor hovers over the mic icon on the right in the search bar.

Image 1. Google Searchbar With Microphone Tooltip


The power of tooltips lies in the fact that they are non-obtrusive as they are shown only when required. Typically, these are up to a few lines of text and will be hidden when not in use. This helps keep the UX/UI clutter-free and avoids long, complex textual elements.


In today’s day and age, designers often utilize icons in their apps. This improves the UX/UI for experienced users as they can recognize visual cues faster than textual elements and this helps improve the navigability for users. However, for new users or those with less experience with current generation design frameworks simply having an icon may be confusing. In such instance’s tooltips are especially useful to help explain the icons and these can be triggered only when hovering over the designated icon.


Tooltips can also be a generally helpful tool for explaining different sections of a page. This is typically done by including a tooltip icon that users can hover over for more information. Tooltips are however not suited to explain lengthy or complex processes with multiple interactions and should not be used for this purpose.

Product Walkthroughs

+ Good for directing users directly to important features and “Ah-ha” moments

+ Useful for explain complex interactions/long processes

- More obtrusive than walkthroughs

- Without proper setup, can be irritating for users

Think of a product walkthrough as an orientation session new students attend on their first day at college. In this orientation, they get to know the college and have attention drawn to important features that would be helpful or interesting. A product walkthrough delivers that same experience for a new user starting to use a product by highlighting important features in a structured manner. A product walkthrough is especially helpful in establishing value proposition to users early by directly guiding them to useful features and “Ah-ha” moments.

Product walkthroughs can also be used to highlight new features that are launched to existing users as well as where an application has undergone a complete design overhaul. A product walkthrough would help users understand the change and how to fully utilise it.


Pinterest sets a good example of an interactive product walkthrough that helps new users learn how to use the platform. It is informative, but does not get in the way of usage. Their product walkthrough uses a completion list setup which sets goals for the user to take and in the process helps the user to learn the product.

Image 2. Pinterest Onboarding Product Walkthrough Checklist

Over time, the product tours can be made more advanced and modular to provide training about complex features in bite-sized bits that are triggered only when required or upon request. For especially complex products targeted at a range of different user personas may find it helpful to develop different onboarding experiences to ensure the experience is contextualized to their needs and they get brought to their respective "Ah hah" moments mo.


The structured nature of product walkthroughs ensure users are guided through a specific process as the designer intended. They are especially useful for guiding a user through complex or long processes. On the other hand, product walkthroughs are more obtrusive then tooltips. Without proper design, these may not be contextualised to the immediate needs and concerns of users. Lengthy product walkthroughs can also be cumbersome and ultimately unhelpful for learning.

Chatbots

+ Feels like personalized attention.

- Can be expensive/complex to setup.

- Can be frustrating if directed to incorrect/irrelevant information

Chatbots have only recently become a commercially viable option for companies with fewer resources than the likes of Microsoft and IBM. Generally there are 2 kinds of chatbots, Artificial Intelligence(AI) bots that can interpret natural language or directed inquiry chatbots with buttons on the bottom where users can easily select their desired outcome. Both these options seek to replace or augment customer service officer manned chat boxes and can be used in conjunction.


Deciding whether and what type of chatbot to use depends on the context, but as a general rule, the type of chatbot to use depends on the complexity of questions you expect from your users.


Slack an enterprise messaging application has a relatively simple setup and feature list. It uses a fully automated AI chatbot using natural language processing to assist users. This chatbot can help users getting familiar with the interface and basic features of Slack.


On the other hand, Amazon deals with a range of inquiries from simple procedural tasks to complex requests for aid and assistance. They use a directed inquiry chatbot with buttons but also include a free text field for users to ask questions to their AI. If all else fails one can also request to speak to a customer service officer via the bot to be redirected accordingly.


Image 3. Amazon Chatbot With Directed Inquiry and AI Free Text Options

Chatbots are a good way to help users feel like they are getting personalised attention. With a good setup, users can quickly and easily get their problems resolved on the spot without having to wait on the line for a customer service officer. On the other hand, chatbots can be expensive and complex to setup. This decision depends ultimately on the complexity of your product and inquiries coming in. Improper setup of a chatbot can also result in users being frustrated and getting directed to incorrect or irrelevant information and should be designed carefully and with proper signposting for redirecting inquiries to a customer service officer where needed.

Conclusion


Ensuring that your users are using the product the right way and to its full capabilities is important for generating growth and reducing churn. In-application support can be crucial to achieving that in a scalable way that keep costs low while ensuring an excellent user experience and should be a requisite tool for any SaaS company looking to scale their business.


UserTip is a Digital Adoption Platform offering no-code builders for product walkthroughs and tooltips that can be pushed to your platform within seconds. Click here to find out more, or click here to speak to a product specialist.

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