How to handle a SaaS that requires a lot of onboarding

I’ve had a software company (selling speech therapy software for patients and therapists) for over 20 years.

In the last 5 years or so, I’ve realized that SaaS is the way to go. It lets us focus on the users who get the most benefit.

One other thing I’ve realized in the last year is that users really need a lot of hand holding. Part of this is b/c our software could be more user friendly but mostly because the patients don’t know much about how they should be practicing their speech therapy. I.e., they really need someone to find out their needs, maybe by watching them use the software, and then suggest what to work on next.

So I’m considering a lot of different things:

  1. Changing our free trial to a limited demo to encourage them to sign up for a paid subscription sooner. The paid subscription includes a free 1:1 Tour that covers the above.
  2. Live group demos. (This converts much better if we do not have a fully functional trial. With a fully functional trial there is no reason to subscribe at the end of the tour, no matter how motivated they are.
  3. Free accounts for therapists (professionals). This makes sense if it gets us active therapists users and is somewhat viral.

Any other suggestions?
What have you done to provide lots of hand holding?

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I don’t know what your LTV is and if that is enough to make the increase in sales from live group demo’s profitable or not?

As a nerd my automatic reaction is to run in fear from anything like that -
not salable, expensive, committing to a particular time and not a lot of fun to do (for me)) but thats not necessarily a good idea!

How much of a user guide do you have in place?

Could you do something like have ‘in place’ walkthroughs?
(Like this - there was a chap on here running a similar service maybe a year ago -

Can you get all funky with email automation in response to behaviors - e.g. if someone starts the trial but doesn’t do certain key actions send a follow up email getting them started again. If they look all keen but then stop another one?

And of course - have you managed to watch some people use your software? There are likely a few real quick wins where a lot are getting stuck and will be really obvious if you watch (with your mouth gaffer taped shut). Its startling watching the less computer literate try and use something you think is simple)

With MoreSpeech I wonder if there is a sense of being overwhelmed by too much choice. 6 in the first screen, then under each there is another 10 to 40ish choices. I’d bet if you took away the “risk of making a bad choice” from the user they would feel more comfortable exploring the app and sticking with it. A design that focuses on Gamification and unlocking the next exercise instead of showing all exercises at once might reduce the problem. On the landing page you show Achievements and work in the psychology of collecting those markers and the stickiness might go up.

Ask yourself why the user opens the app the first time, the sixth time, the 20th time. Likely what the user wants to see for each of those is different. The First time is an obvious place to put a quick UI tutorial, ask some probing questions to setup their flow through the exercises (prioritized based on symptoms?), the sixth time you are probably introducing the last (prioritized as least important) top level category with a tutorial on how to “play/complete” the exercises in this category. On the 20th launch the user might be coming to their scoreboard with a big button that say “continue exercises” and the app picks the next “appropriate” lesson. They feel good to see that they’re 23% complete, and have 7 hours of therapy this week under their belt. A lesser button on the dashboard might be to “repeat exercise” which shows the more complex UI that is the app today so the user can go back and try again, improve score, etc.

Questions I’d want to know before I’d start doing 1:1 tutorials:

  1. How long does typical therapy last (duration in months X price/m)? can you afford to do 1:1 and still be profitable?

  2. Is the Purchaser always the person under therapy? As a son-in-law to a boomer who has had a stroke I might buy the app for my father-in-law (and the iPad to run it). And my wife might be enforcing (encouraging) its daily use in the beginning of therapy. Are there features in there for Me and My Wife? Can she see/monitor his progress and participation? (my wife is doing your 1:1 tutorial for free)

It looks like a great app and awesome content within. At the very least I’d kill the free trial and go with limited demo. Keeping 99% of the content behind the paywall. (Option #1)

Yes, do the Live Webinars and then afterward replaying the recordings makes more sense to me than 1:1 hand holding (option#2), employ a Drip strategy to educate people who give you their email (signups in paid and demo category). Sending out links to upcoming webinars, or past recordings.

Option #3 is much like the features I imagined for my wife above. I’d be careful building more features ahead of talking to customers. Talk to therapists and children of patients before doing any coding. This is really about lighting up new marketing channels.

An Option #4: affiliate program where the therapist earns a portion (say 20%) of the monthly subscription and has their dashboard view of all their patients, thus enlisting them into the sales process. (give each therapist a “coupon code” to track their patients’ signups) Again, talk to therapists before building this thing. Get their commitment before doing the work. Note: running Affiliate Programs tend to invalidate your merchant account agreements. Check into that too.

(please forgive many of my assumptions if I’ve missed something, I’ve gleaned the nature of the UI from the YouTube vids)

EDIT: It occurs to me we have a blind spot based on the phrasing of the questions. Instead of Free to Therapists, introduce a “Practice” License that a Therapist Office can buy for say $15000/yr and all their patients get the Service for Free under that license. This changes all of your support struggles and make 1:1 part of the sale. At that price they could expect onsite training.

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You made me think of two important things:

  1. Set up a finer granularity of Email “onboarding”. (so ONE step “action” per email, so works as a “todo” for them.
  2. Change our current fully functional free trial to a free “find your level” mode. So they’ll get only 2 exercises per lesson and that will let them quickly advance to exactly the level they want to be at AND encourage them to subscribe.

Replies to your specific questions:

  1. Answering your last question first: Yes, I have watched a lot of folks use it. (I shout that everytime I can “Watch your users you’ll be amazed”.)… We’ve made lots of small changes with huge improvements in usability (from 70% of users completely misuses one Skill Area to 90% using it exactly as intended). Most folks now seem to be able to USE the app OK. They just dont’ know WHERE to start. It does automatically advance them through difficulty levels.
  2. No user guide. Clay’s Law: the chance of a user reading something is 1/nWords where nWords is the # of words.
    We have the intro video instead. We also have automated emails that link to videos on each skill area.
  3. I enjoy working with them on the speech therapy side of things (helping them understand their needs, and what might help. I do not enjoy dealing with folks who are computer newbies and can’t type in their email. (Not their fault, just not fun to deal with). LTV supports the first of these.
  4. We have a video demo on the home page. That helps. I’m not sure an in-app walkthrough would help any more than that. In UX testing folks understand the app. They just don’t know which Skill and Test is appropriate for them to start with. That’s because they don’t understand their survivor’s speech-language deficit. (I don’t expect the brain injury survivor to use it on their own the first time. We expect them to have a Caregiver to help)
  5. We do the automated emails now. I am planning to make them “finer grained” so that they are more “1 step per email” . However, we currently ask (several times) : Did you find something that is a good challenge? If not, we have a free live tour. Very few folks take us up on that, so either they are not reading the email.

Thanks. Some interesting ideas.
Your post and the one before gave me some ideas. See the reply to the other post with my two thoughts (using the demo as a “find your level”, and better onboarding emails).

It’s very tricky selling through therapists. And unfortunately they have no way of billing their customers. (Very few people pay for therapy directly. It’s billed to insurance).

See my other response to @Rhino : the biggest issue isn’t that the users (caregiver) don’t understand the program, it’s that they don’t understand their own speech-language needs, and thus don’t know where to start. But the idea of using the DEMO for that would be a very good idea, and replaying the Webinars might not be useful. But maybe I’m underestimating how willing people are to watch videos :slight_smile: (They might need to watch 20m to get what THEY would need out of the 2 minutes)

What they are expecting (based on UX observations of 30 or so users over 6 months) is to be appropriately challenged.

So if it’s too easy, they assume it’s ALL too easy. If it’s too hard, they get frustrated. And they sometimes want to work on a specific area (reading, etc.) AND want it to be appropriately challenging. And of course, patients vary in attitude: some want something HARD, some want something EASY (for them). The creates a HUGE spectrum of starting points.

Bear in mind that it takes a trained therapist an hour to figure out what they should be working on. Our task is a little easier: we just need to find ONE thing that’s a good challenge for them.

So… I’m thinking change the free trial to a demo-to-find-your-level with a video explaining they can jump around. Start in the middle. Too hard? Jump up halfway from where you are to the 1st level. (So, a binary sort :slight_smile:

I’ll play-test that during a UX test and see how that works.

So that looks like your way in then - some sort of Q & A / survey process that produces a personalized plan - the plan could be anywhere between manual / semi-automated / fully automated. (Maybe start manual and move towards automated as you refine the process)

EDIT - Just thought that you would have to be careful about giving what could be construed medical advice but I imagine that this is a line you’ve already learnt to navigate.

This could also work really well with a lead-nurturing automated email course, something along the lines of Brandon’s “Double your freelancing” where your getting people to sign up for useful content (as thats an easy sell) before later nudging them into full customers. By segmenting based on the survey answers you’ve got you could send hyper-personalized stuff to them that would likely convert really well. (e.g. an email or series for those recovering from a stroke, those recovering from larynx surgery etc etc)

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  1. You are right, there are too many choices. But it’s like going to the big box hardware store. Too many choices, but they also can’t read my mind and have ONLY 3" phillips screws.
  2. Therapists don’t have the money to pay for software. They are reimbursed based on hours of service. The quality of that service does not factor into how much they can charge. So we could get patients 10x as much treatment for a 1% increase in cost, BUT they can’t bill that 1% increase. And very very few are competing based on outcomes (quality). BUT that’s another Channel to investigate (find the really high end therapists (that .5% that do compete on quality) and try to sell a clinic license to them. (Although to be honest, I’ve tried this with private practitioners for the last 20 years (they are the .5% that do compete on price) and maybe 10 have done something with that.