Concierge Onboarding is Continuous Customer Development

Do you run a SAAS subscription app (a website that charges a recurring fee, e.g. MailChimp )? You already know a good onboarding process is critical for getting customers to use (and pay for) your product. Many successful SAAS companies are now using “concierge” onboarding.

At SoHelpful we’ve been doing concierge onboarding for the last two years. It has worked so well that other companies are asking me to teach them how to do it.

I’m even doing a new free email course called Double Your Paid Conversions with Concierge Onboarding – you can sign up for it right now.

Benefits of concierge onboarding for subscription services

  • Increase conversions to paid subscribers. found it doubled theirs.
  • Reducing churn or defection to competitors.
  • Customer Development.

Today I’m going to explain how to do Customer Development during concierge onboarding.

What is “concierge” onboarding?

Concierge onboarding means getting on a phone (or Skype, Hangout, etc.) call with customers who sign up for your product and helping them 1-on–1. It is most effective when your product is complex, expensive, or requires behavior change. The 1-on–1 interaction gives you a chance to earn trust, overcome objections, or answer questions before customers cancel.

It is also great if you’re struggling with converting customers to paid subscribers or high churn – in that case you haven’t hit product-market fit and need to keep doing Customer Development on your new customers.

Sound like you? Don’t feel bad, this is typical. Here’s how you do it.

Step 1 – Hypothesize at signup

Take a look at who your new customer is and what she does during signup. What problem do you think she has?

Why did she sign up? Why did/didn’t she tack the actions? Why might she decide not to pay or cancel?

Discuss it with your team and document it. This exercise is great for getting the entire company engaged with the real problems you’re solving for customers.

Step 2 – Get the customer on the phone (not easy)

Here is where we see most SAAS companies blow it. If you have a phone number you can try calling them directly, but 75% of the time (or more) you’ll get a voicemail or interrupt someone. You best bet is to try and get the customer to schedule a call with you.

Unfortunately … they will probably be reluctant to do this. The key is to position the call as an opportunity to teach/help/train the new customer so they want to get on a call. I cover this in detail in the course, but here some examples:

Bad concierge onboarding email – looks like form message from sales or support

Subject: Welcome to SuperCoolApp

Hello Tim,

Thank you for signing up for Would you like to schedule a call to learn how to start using SuperCoolApp? I can help you finish the setup and answer any questions. Just hit reply and let me know.

Good concierge onboarding email – looks like a learning opportunity from an authority who cares

Subject: SuperCoolApp (I hand-typed this email Tim)

Hey Tim,

I’m Jack, a founder of SuperCoolApp. I also teach our customers’ sales teams how to accelerate revenue using the CoolSeller technique.

Thanks for signing up – I took a quick look at your company’s website at (I see you’re in Orlando – I go there once/year to teach sales workshops, nice city). Let’s get on a call and talk about your company and goals. I may be able to offer a few easy tips but want to first understand your goals. To schedule a call with me …

Step 3 – Lead the call with GROW coaching

We don’t start our concierge onboarding calls by asking about our product or the signup process. Our goal is to win customer trust, get insight, and motivate the customer to change behavior – using the product is secondary.

Asking about the product puts the customer in the leading position – we want to lead the customer. We use the GROW coaching technique on our concierge onboarding calls.

Getting the customer talking about Goals, current Reality, and Obstacles (the G, R, O) allows us to interview the customer in a casual conversation.

Step 4 – Evaluate with your team

After the call just type up your notes in a quick summary. We post them to Google docs and drop a snippet into Slack so the whole team can scan them.

Then we have a follow-on call to review.

Results? Continuous learning about our customers while building the business

Customer Development doesn’t end when you roll-out the MVP. It continues until you hit product/market fit and your SAAS app builds stable MRR with growth.

Concierge onboarding is a great way to keep this learning going while you’re building the business – it just becomes part of your workflow.

Want to learn more about concierge onboarding?

Customer Development is just one benefit of concierge onboarding.

How do I double conversions to paying customers? Reduce churn? When do I contact customers? What do I say? What is GROW coaching and how can I do it? When should I follow-up with customers and what should I say?

And … how can I do concierge onboarding without spending a ton of my time? How do I hire and train someone to do this?

All topics I cover in Double your paid conversions with concierge onboarding.

Sign up for it today – I’ll respond to your emails and work with you 1-on–1.


Photo credit: Justin Connors


  1. rcauvin January 20, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    Forming hypotheses about why customers are signing up before you engage them is an important step in this process. Great post, Kevin!

  2. Joseph Ho January 26, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

    Great post. Concierge onboarding is a new concept to me.

  3. Marjory WIldcraft April 27, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

    Loved this post and just signed up. “Concierge onboarding” awesome idea. I can already see how we will avert some problems. Funny too in that we are the Grow Network… LOL synchronicity

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