Winning your Users after Purchase using Onboarding with Ryan Kirkpatrick

Onboarding is the blue pill needed to dissolve cognitive dissonance in post-purchase. Let’s understand the best practices in onboarding with the help of a customer’s post-purchase psyche with Ryan Kirkpatrick from CoProcure, ex-Superhuman.

Sinduja Krishnakumar
  • 2 months ago
  • 9 min read

When it comes to marketing, one of the companies we love checking out is Spotify.

We bet you’d have seen the below banner as it was making its rounds trending on social media.

This was an advertisement Spotify used in 2019 to showcase their collections feature. The lighted billboard placed in key areas of the city not only highlighted Spotify’s new feature but also hit a soft spot on relatability.

This billboard meme marketing has been a massive success for Spotify by a measure of the people who easily recognize it.

But does marketing end with a purchase?

What happens when a user, smitten by your billboards or LinkedIn ads, who without question pays for your highest plan, but ends up inactive on your product?

A thread from two years ago on Reddit ranted on how Spotify is overrated. If this is what happens to a product that revolves around personalization and has deep pockets to spend on ad budgets, what happens to the rest of us?

Where should we look to maintain our customer smiles post-purchase?

Why should you focus on your user’s post-purchase behavior?

Loop, the exchange and return platform for Shopify, defines post-purchase behavior as ‘the way a person thinks, feels, and acts after they make a purchase.’ It is a concept most studied in B2C or within the spheres of e-commerce.

Good post-purchase behavior is characterized by repeat purchases, raving fans, and good reviews, while negative reviews depict bad post-purchase behavior, along with the user ghosting the product.

Considering the world works on people doing business with each other, let us carry forth the same logic to B2B SaaS.

Why are you remorseful after that big purchase?

We searched the internet to understand why we are not as happy as we ought to be after a well-thought purchase. After seeing back-to-back rants of Shein's ‘What I saw vs. What I got’ videos, our worst fears were confirmed.

Many times people are simply not happy with their purchases. This behavior is called the ‘post-purchase dissonance’. Dr. Dave Chaffey explains post-purchase dissonance as a type of cognitive dissonance. Or, in simple terms, a ‘conflict in mind about a decision’’.

Funnily we also noticed that post-purchase dissonance in B2B SaaS is not well-researched.

We needed answers!

We sought to find the best person who could tell us why, oh why did, the purchase of the latest tool sanctioned for a team of 50 doesn’t make anyone sleep better at night!

We zeroed in on the first step of post-purchase in SaaS: onboarding.

That’s when our team at Trainn caught up with Ryan Kirkpatrick, someone who has helped build onboarding at Superhuman for almost four years and has now moved to Co-Procure as an Onboarding lead. We spoke to him to understand how onboarding can save dissatisfied teams from churning a product.

In this interview, we unearthed the well-kept secrets of onboarding which (surprise, surprise!) finds its essence in human behavior.

What is customer onboarding, and how to make people understand its importance?

According to Intercom, customer onboarding is the process by which you welcome new customers and get them acquainted with your products and services.

Onboarding is the lifeline you throw your customer after they have taken the leap of faith. The sooner you pull them ashore, the better they would feel.

But onboarding is not easy.

Ryan says, ‘Historically, onboarding hasn’t been great.’ Software was introduced to the world as a tool that was uploaded into your systems, which took up space and sometimes gave birth to bugs that made your system run slower.

People have had more negative experiences with onboarding, mainly because the experience has more unknowns and grey areas.

In the world of one-minute Instagram reels and Tiktoks, people simply do not have the time to learn and understand products, even if it saves them time. The importance of onboarding today lies in easing people's minds from ‘is my investment worth it?’ to ‘wow, this solves all my worries.’

Ryan proceeds to say that the key to successful onboarding lies within the stakeholder who purchases your product for the team, where only a tiny percentage of the people know about your product.

Organizations have to work with this main stakeholder to get their teams equally excited and send the message that this new product could be the next radio-active spider to their soon-to-be adventure-filled lives.

But,

Source: Tenor

How do you know your current onboarding process is not working?

Most of us understand what customer onboarding is and its importance. But how do you know that your current onboarding process is not working or whether it is doing up to its full potential?

Ryan says there are two ways to check the efficacy of your onboarding process

Hidden messages in onboarding calls

The customer onboarding calls are crucial as there is more to it than meets the eye.

Notice the “Umm…”, “hmmm..”, and “ahh..”s in this call with your customer. If the user is not questioning you or actively participating, you have lost them. Calls are helpful because they let you see the user face-to-face and understand their posture, facial expressions, and body language.

Combining this verbal and non-verbal information is the first step to gauging your onboarding process.

Onboarding metrics for the win

After onboarding, the best way to decipher the success of your process lies in the metrics. Are your users using the features you have pointed out for their specific problems in an optimal way?

Let your tools provide a data structure to show how well your users use your product for their needs. Reliable data is the backbone of onboarding, and a pivotal question to ask throughout the process is – How are your users experiencing your product?

What happens when your product is self-serve?

When I set up my first Mailchimp account, it was 1:03 am, and I was in a fetal position in my bed,” says Martin, an early adopter of Mailchimp and someone who suffers from back pains.

No person was there to oversee Martin’s body language or wild groans when he could not figure out how to add a new section to the email body.

Yes, you can embed Trainn product videos which you can make within five minutes along each step of your product journey, but how do you measure the efficiency of your onboarding in self-serve?

Ryan, however, had the perfect answer. He says the key to onboarding in self-serve lies in understanding the user. Ask the following questions about the user,

  1. What is their attitude towards technology, and how technology-heavy is your product?
  2. What is their main struggle, and why do they seek your product?
  3. Are they excited or forced to try your product?
  4. What is working for them, and what is working against them?

Onboarding is never a one-size-fits-all. Everyone can’t be sent through the yellow brick road. Choose the most suitable adventure for your user to go down.

Why is it important to rethink onboarding?

The truth is everything changes. Ryan picks an example from an early-stage startup to depict this.

“Your product’s early adopters are the most excited. They have incredible results on the metrics. After twelve months of exciting chats during onboarding, you move to your next set of adopters who have skepticism tinging their yesses and nos.

Retention numbers drop. An existential crisis begins to dawn on you, and a frustrated moan by a salesperson puts you at the deep end.

This is because your customer base has changed. Your product is also ready for new features.”

Ryan asks us not to stick a gun to the metrics. He proceeds,

“Have a scientific eye to evaluate what you’re doing. Make sure that the criteria you are using are relevant in the present.”

Ask yourself, what are the different things you can do to enchant this new person who’s not as excited as your early adopter? Rethink onboarding to recreate the ‘aha’ moment with different segments of your users.

3 best practices in onboarding approved by psychology

SuperOffice asked 1920 business professionals to share their top priorities for the next 5 years. This is what the results looked like,

With customer experience taking the forefront, the focus comes to the post-purchase journey. If Spotify’s billboard ads on their collections let you subscribe to their product, how does Spotify keep you a happily paying customer for the rest of your life?

A good post-purchase experience helps builds loyalty, aids upselling, and helps retain customers. At the very least, it can prevent post-purchase dissonance.

This dissonance can be anticipated and tackled beforehand through onboarding. With an educational background in psychology and a deep understanding of onboarding users, Ryan was our perfect choice to tell us how to beat your user’s blues after buying your product.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in onboarding

In 1943 Abraham Maslow proposed the theory of human motivation with five key categories of human needs that dictate an individual’s behavior.

Every user at some level is trying to tick a box on their triangle of needs. Ryan asks one to deeply understand who the user is and where the alarming red light in their triangle of needs is coming from. What is it that they are trying to overcome?

He says, “Ahead of your onboarding call, try to understand your user's greatest pain points and provide them with a solution that fixes this need. You have then painted a picture of what your user’s future would look like with the solution. The feeling this invokes on their end is relief and excitement for the future.”

This would also help them return to you, at least for the adrenaline rush.

Reciprocity trigger and freebies

How many of you knew that Krispy Kreme gives away free donuts when the ‘Hot Light’ is on?

“Free” is a powerful term. In the book Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely says people are more willing to comply when something free comes along. When something free is triggered from surprise, it adds more impact.

Ryan says while he was at Superhuman, they would mail T-shirts to people who used the tools for a certain time, who flagged deadly bugs, or even someone who had achieved specific accomplishments within the tool in a particular period.

He suggests that giving gifts with no strings attached can help keep users happy and rewarded.

Tapping into the caring effect

The theme song of the iconic show Friends tells everything about why you go back to re-watch it for the 52nd time.

When Rembrandts wrote the song, with the chorus saying ‘I’ll be there for you,’ to signify the root of relationships between friends in their twenty-somethings, it unveils a more profound layer into the psyche of relationships.

It is comforting to know that someone is looking out for you when ‘you’re always stuck in second gear’. This caring effect helps hold trusting conversations and establishes healthy bonds.

You can watch the video here to take a shortcut to the 90s.

Who said your business couldn’t have your own theme song with your customers?

Ryan asks everyone working to sell a SaaS product to be there for their customers. This means being relentlessly customer-centric. He says, “Do right by the customer even if it doesn’t rationally make sense at times. This might initially affect the bottom line, but going above and beyond will pay off in the long run.”

People are not dollar signs on quarterly catchups, nor are they colored dots moving through a funnel-like diagram on your drawing board. They are humans. Businesses need to understand what they need and wholeheartedly support them.

Ryan gives us a closing punch-line: “At the core of every decision you make, ask yourself how it will impact your customer. If it’s going to be in their best interest, you’ll know you’re on the right path!”

We don’t like to brag, but we also go crazy for our customers. Feel free to book a meeting with us to experiment with Trainn or to discuss Friends.

We profusely thank Ryan Kirkpatrick for agreeing to interview with us and sharing his valuable insights for our blog.