Here’s a riddle for you. How many CSMs would it take to walk each and every one of your new customers through a detailed tutorial of your product, one-on-one?

Now, how many would it take if you grow your customer base by 50%? 100%?

While it may sound dramatic, it’s not a far-fetched scenario for some SaaS companies. After all, isn’t quickly acquiring new customers a primary goal for most software providers? But, once you’ve got them, the customer journey begins, and the transition through the onboarding process is critical. Your Customer Success team needs the right tools to create an experience that maintains your customers’ enthusiasm as they navigate your product.

But, as Customer Success has come into its own, mastering operational efficiency while scaling remains elusive. Technology and tools that can automate your friendly, personal customer experience without making your customers feel stranded are a key element missing from too many Customer Success organizations.

So, what’s the answer to our riddle? Hiring an army of CSMs to cater to your customers’ every whim? Or painstakingly preparing an exhaustive training seminar that you hope your customers will sit through? Okay, I may be exaggerating on that one, I would never underestimate the power of good training!

The real answer is constructing interactive, in-product tutorials to onboard your customers and guide them through adoption and expansion. Enter your friendly, neighborhood in-app engagement software. Also commonly referred to as in-product engagement tools, think Pendo or WalkMe.

These tools educate your customers about all the great uses for your product as they use and explore its features. You can build customizable windows to pop-up and describe features and functionality to your customer in an immersive, interactive way.

The evolution of Clippy, everyone’s (least) favorite virtual assistant

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Every computer user from the ’90s remembers Microsoft’s virtual Office Assistant, popularly nicknamed Clippy. Perhaps one of the most iconic virtual assistants of all time, Clippy would appear on the edges of Microsoft Office documents with offers of help, tips, and advice for users. You could click through dialogue trees for walkthroughs on general or specific functions within the software. Or, perhaps more often, you could click the box for “Don’t show me this tip again.”

Clippy is no longer with us today, having been fired by Microsoft in 2007, but the intrusive, little paper clip has left a legacy from which all in-application virtual assistants have sprung. But please don’t let this comparison discourage you.

Taking inspiration from video game tutorials

It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.

Video games have been using in-game tutorial functions since, well, basically forever. The Legend of Zelda begins by giving you the prototypical sword, which Link holds up triumphantly before immediately going out to battle some forest monsters. Portal 2 is infamous for its hilarious introduction where the robot, Wheatley, tells you that you might have brain damage from being in suspension. These are good examples of a fun way for the game to introduce you to the controls, the world, and the story.

Think of in-app (or in-product) notifications created by these engagement tools as guides for your customers – they function similarly to these video game tutorials. As your character walks around, a pop-up will instruct you how to move, jump, look up, look down…you get the point. You can’t usually proceed beyond this stage without following the directions or at least clicking through.

These video game tutorials have gotten exponentially more creative over time – enhancing the gameplay experience beyond a ‘push this key to punch’ dynamic – but underneath it all, the point is still the same. In-app tutorials teach users how to play without yanking them out of the game world and the story.

The call to adventure in your customer’s journey

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We’ve come a long way from the days of Clippy calling out from the edges of a Word document, but your customers still need guidance to learn about their amazing new software. In-app engagement tools like Pendo, WalkMe, and even Customer Success platform ChurnZero, make educating your customers about using your technology simple and straightforward. Typically functioning as an overlay on your own product, they enable you to customize the adoption experience with step-by-step instructions for new users as they begin their customer journey.

The Inaugural Customer Success Leadership Study discovered that only 28% of CS organizations are taking advantage of in-app engagement tools to support their customers today. We expect that number to increase as more CS teams reach higher rungs of the Customer Success maturity model and reach for the best technologies to scale.

Tracking your customer’s journey from the first monster-slaying

I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow in the knee.

Another advantage to embracing these in-app engagement tools is being able to see, in real-time, your customers interacting with your product. You give Link the sword, and then you get to watch to see if he immediately begins slaying monsters. Or does he get lost in the forest? Product teams love this kind of insight. No more guessing about why a customer dropped off at a certain point of onboarding; you can see exactly what happened and even tailor in-app directives to help users avoid getting lost altogether.

The ESG team has seen this work seamlessly, firsthand. We’ve developed in-app customer engagement strategies to completely re-create the onboarding process and experience for one of our Enterprise customers. Custom pop-up windows sit on top of their Enterprise software to streamline the user learning and adoption experience. We even created these messages in over a dozen languages, tailoring the how-to tutorials to meet the needs of customers around the world.

Seamlessly releasing new features, steering customers toward desired behaviors, optimizing your customer’s experience – anything you need to educate your customers can happen in-app, while they are immersed in the world that is your product .