How To Avoid Onboarding Overwhelm And Drive Customer Action Instead

5 tactics you can use to avoid customer overwhelm and drive action during onboarding

Stuart Balcombe

September 10, 2022

5 minutes

This is awkward.

Yesterday my boss sent me a message:

”I talked to someone at Inbound today… they looked at Arrows a while ago. Currently use a google doc for onboarding but they copied our HubSpot pipeline guide but never used it with Arrows… we need to think of ways to fix this, so people don't see our content but not realize where the product is today.”

Being responsible for helping people understand where Arrows could fit in their onboarding stack, this was … not great.

So today, I have 5 tactics you can use to avoid customer overwhelm and drive action during onboarding - and just for Daniel (my boss), how Arrows is designed to help you do them!

1. Provide context - align on the desired outcomes

Spending more time upfront to understand your customer's desired outcomes and then keeping them front and center in your onboarding plan is a great way to ensure accountability and anchor the work you're asking customers to do during onboarding.

Add a call out for the goals you want to reach together at the top of your plan and reference them in every customer touchpoint.


Every plan in Arrows starts with a friendly welcome card - it’s what your customers will see every time they review the plan overview and it’s a great place to add context, reinforce the goals you’ll be working towards together in the plan, and provide a friendly welcome with a personalized video message.

2. Create a path to success - stay focused on what’s next

Here’s a sentiment we hear often:

“it's not clear for the customer the full process of the onboarding (even though we do most of the steps for them) and either the tasks they need to complete in order to progress.”

To be successful, your customers need to know 2 things:

  1. What is the path to success - Not having one defined can be confusing and reduce trust that you are going to help customers achieve their goals.
  2. What do I need to do “now” to make progress towards my goals? - Do customers could do, what should they prioritize first.

Ensure your plan reflects a clear hierarchy of what can be done later and what needs to happen now to not block forward progress.


Unlike your typically overwhelming project management tool or spreadsheet Arrows creates a clear focus on the next action needed in the plan.

  • The next task is always called out and accessible at the top of a plan.
  • All future phases are collapses and hidden to keep the focus on what’s next.

3. Set due dates and DRI's - be explicit about implications

Clearly communicating what needs to happen and when isn't only important to help get tasks completed on time (onboarding isn't a check the box exercise).

Being transparent about when tasks need to be completed and who will need to complete them improves everyones ability to plan ahead and increase the chances we hit our target timeline as planned.

Successfully onboarding to your product isn't the only thing on your customers plate. They have other work they need to prioritize and internal deadlines they need to hit.


Arrows tasks can be assigned (and reassigned as needed) to individual participants in a plan, or specific roles.

Setting due dates relative to the plan start or target date means you can configure them in a template and adjust as needed for customers without starting from scratch every time.

Setting due dates also enables automation of task reminders and reporting on plans that are behind schedule and at risk of missing targets.

4. Keep tasks inline - help customers get in flow

The more momentum you build with customers, the faster they see value, the faster they go live, and the less likely they are to be thrown off track and get stuck.

But there are 2 common behaviors we see that kill momentum during onboarding:

  1. Laying out the plan for your customers by sending an email with a laundry list of tasks – they quickly get overwhelmed and have to jump back and forth between completing tasks and their inbox.
  2. Sending customers to a siloed experience to complete a task – This might be filling in a form, booking a meeting, or any number of other actions but there is no way to get in “flow” once they complete the task they're stuck waiting for you to tell them what’s next.

Instead, make the next step accessible in the success state of the current one.


Arrows provides 4 task types - Links & Embeds, File Downloads, File Requests, and Forms Submissions. These task actions allow customers to complete each task without opening another tab.

When a task is marked as complete, the customer is met with a moment of celebration and presented with the next step. This reinforces the forward progress towards their goals, and removes you (or their busy inbox) as a blocker to moving faster.

5: Capture data to understand what’s working (or not)

I get it, post-sale teams are notoriously under funded and under supported.

…BUT without bringing data to the budget review table it’s always going to be tough to make the case to leadership and the CFO about how more budget will improve performance.

And it’s not just getting budget approval where data is a powerful negotiation tool:

If you can show the product team the impact on customer adoption of a missing feature or unclear UX, you’re much more likely to get change prioritized.

If you can show the sales team the impact on renewals and expansion revenue of closing a specific customer persona, or highlighting a specific use case, you’re much more likely to get their buy in.

You get what you measure. Your entire onboarding strategy gets built around the strength of the case you can make with data.


Arrows plans attach directly to Deals or Tickets in HubSpot, giving your team a real-time view of any plan's status and progress inside of the tool they're already using.

Arrows also captures every plan interaction and syncs back more than 30 data points to HubSpot properties to power automated workflows and reports.


Laying out a detailed onboarding plan for customers can sometimes feel like it's going to cause confusion and overwhelm.

But remember, your customer signed up for your product to reach an outcome that improves their situation. Being transparent about how you'll help them get there builds trust, sets clear expectations and avoids the certainty of confusion later.

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