Top 4 Nightmare Scenarios of Onboarding New Users

When you think back on the nightmares you’ve had in your life, what’s the common denominator? Did you have the dream where you were running in slow motion, being chased by something, and your legs didn’t work? How about the one where you’re walking through your old high school and you’re naked? Whatever it was, it was scary. The rules of the world you knew didn’t apply. You were in the realm of the uncanny, and you had no control over it.

A bad onboarding experience can be just like that for a new user. Bad website design, absent customer support, a poorly implemented tutorial, all of this can turn into a Kafkaesque nightmare for the unsuspecting customer.

Here are four of the most common customer onboarding pitfalls in the SaaS world and the equivalent nightmares we’ve all experienced at one time or another.

1. Stuck on the other side

A long, confusing signup process can confuse the user and make them feel insecure. The signup process can feel like an infinite feedback loop, forcing you to fill out redundant information, to click through seemingly endless, slow loading pages, to be tormented by unclear instructions and broken URLs. It’s like a dream where one is running from some kind of threat, trying to open a door but the doorknob doesn’t work, trying to knock on the door but their hands are numb and don’t work. Everything you want is just on the other side, but it’s impossible to get there. You don’t know what’s going on: you know what should happen, but it’s not working and you don’t know why. How can you get out?

2. Is there anybody out there?

Slow, non-responsive customer support is a very alienating nightmare. When the user tries to call customer support, and is on hold for what seems like hours. Nobody responds to their emails either. The SaaS company’s website is up and it even updates, but nobody responds to user messages. The lights are on, but nobody’s home, like a dream where you’re in a city and everything is empty. The buildings are intact, the buses and trains are running, there are cold sodas in the fridge at the bodega, but there’s absolutely nobody there. It’s eerily silent and the user doesn’t know what happened. Did the cold war go hot? Did the aliens come? The rapture? Who knows? But you’re customer has been left alone.

3. Falling through the world

In life, when the learning curve on a program is too steep, your user can feel very much like the ground broke underneath them. Things were stable. Things made sense. But the user had to learn too much, too fast and now they have nothing to hold onto. Studies performed by WalkMe show that over 80% of what is learned during new user training is forgotten. In dreams, the ground gives out below you and you’re plummeting through the sky and you feel the acceleration in your stomach. And then, thankfully, you wake up before hitting the ground.

4. When the masks come off

When a program fails to meet its promises, the reality that your user was promised vanishes, and instead they must deal with the terror of the unknown. Your user was captivated by the words “groundbreaking,” “seamless” and “revolutionary.” They signed up, they started the onboarding process and now they’re terrified that they made the wrong decision. There are dreams which start out normal before taking a turn for the terrifying. It’s a normal amusement park until it isn’t, your friends and family rip off their human masks, and their teeth are fangs and the roller coaster you’re on is descending down into the darkness.

Whoa?! Listen, onboarding can be a scary thing. It’s a big commitment. Make it as easy a process as possible for the new user and hopefully, the only thing they’ll have to worry about is bad dreams.

Boaz Amidor is Head of Corporate and Marketing Communications at WalkMe.

Originally published at on April 19, 2016.