User Onboarding

Onboarding Calls vs Automated/Interactive Onboarding - which one's better for customers?

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    Home / User Onboarding / Onboarding Calls vs Automated/Interactive Onboarding - which one's better for customers?

    Ever since I started writing for the Internet - honestly even before - I have been a strong believer that calling people sucks.

    They can be great and personal, they can make customers feel better about their learning experience and yes that’s great. But hear me out.

    75% of millennials and Gen Z would rather text than have a call.

    And guess who just entered the business chat?

    Millennials and gen Z.

    onboarding calls vs interactive onboarding
    Onboarding call enthusiasts trying to blend in like:

    So now, it is time to look for a better option. You guessed it: automated/interactive onboarding.

    Let’s dive into it.

    What is Onboarding?

    Onboarding is a term used to describe the methods and strategies used to get users and customers accustomed to a tool, app, service, or product. There are various ways of onboarding users to your tool like video onboarding, onboarding through call, and interactive onboarding, all of which with their pros and cons.

    What is a Customer Onboarding Call?

    A customer onboarding call is a method of onboarding users or customers to a platform, service, software, or any other product. Such an onboarding is performed by an onboarding specialist from sales, support, or another department and each call can take from ten minutes to an hour on a weekly basis for a month or two.

    What is Interactive Onboarding?

    Interactive onboarding refers to the type of onboarding that is triggered automatically on a product when a user, customer, or employee starts using the product. Such onboarding is performed using onboarding UX patterns such as walkthroughs, guides, checklists, and tooltips.

    Customer Onboarding Calls vs Interactive Onboarding Flows

    Don’t let me be too harsh about it, onboarding calls were greatly effective up until a couple of years ago.

    But so are interactive onboarding flows now.

    It is important to consider whether your business can benefit more from onboarding calls or onboarding flows before any change that may be initiated in your company.

    So let’s do that, right here, right now.

    Here is a comparison of onboarding calls and interactive onboarding flows in terms of cost, scalability, personalization, quality, and effectiveness.


    The expenses for user or employee onboarding can depend on many different factors like:

    • Company size,
    • Number of users to be onboarded,
    • Number of employees to be onboarded,
    • Number of employees that will perform the onboarding process, and of course
    • The tools and methods to perform the onboarding process

    Because it is hard to think of every type and size of business, let’s imagine the pricing through a small company with no more than 20 employees.

    In such a business, it is a given that money doesn’t grow on trees.

    Another thing that is probably true is that such a business has small teams.

    Then what kind of onboarding should this business adopt? What can be affordable and possible in terms of employee count at the same time?

    Probably not onboarding calls.

    To be fair, when given the manpower to support onboarding calls, a small business can benefit greatly from it.

    But the everyday reality of a small business is even smaller teams and no money to afford someone to deal specifically with onboarding or the systems to make sure an onboarding call is going smoothly.

    An interactive onboarding flow, on the other hand, can eliminate the need for hiring and extra costs completely. You can start with an onboarding tool with a price ranging from $100 to some thousand dollars, or even for free.

    So let me say it once and for all: in most cases, paying for an onboarding tool is cheaper than onboarding calls.


    How do you scale an onboarding call?

    There are some ways to make sure your onboarding calls take effect, like:

    • Spreading the onboarding process over a time period - Every product is different, some take shorter to learn, some take longer. But in most cases, it is best to spread your onboarding calls on a weekly or monthly basis. 
    • Adopting supplementary software - relying on an onboarding specialist or your customer support team can go a long way, but not long enough. That’s why adopting software to schedule calls, reach out to users on other channels, and control user computers when necessary is important.
    • Streamlining the process - the best kind of scaling in any context is to streamline the process. By organizing your team to work better (not harder) it is possible to scale the onboarding calls.
    • Making use of interactive onboarding - One thing about onboarding calls, is that it gets tiring. So it is recommended to use self-teaching in the onboarding process even when using onboarding calls to let users get a breather and help themselves.

    And how do you scale interactive onboarding?

    Within itself.

    If you choose the right software, it is possible to scale your onboarding through meaningful analytics, targeting and segmentation, and a wide array of customization options.

    So, in the end, you would have to consider many options - including interactive onboarding - if you prefer onboarding calls. If you prefer interactive onboarding, the data you need to scale is within the onboarding tool you are using.


    If I said onboarding calls don’t do a great job of personalization, I’d be lying.

    Users do get annoyed with phone calls, but it is a different case when their experience is highly personalized. To make use of personalization in onboarding calls you can:

    • Ask how the user you are talking to wants to utilize your tool, what their goals are, and what they need from you
    • Look into specific user data to see further what exactly the user/customer on the phone may need or want
    • Put each user in a specific segment to work with user personas better
    • Introduce them to specific use cases and success stories from businesses similar to theirs or users with similar needs

    And so on. The truth of the case is, we don’t want to pay for anything if it isn’t personalized for us individually.

    Don’t think so? Hear this out.

    So yes, personalization is a huge deal. And again, yes, onboarding calls are a great way of achieving it.

    But hey. There are other ways of personalization without paying as much, exhausting your sales/support team completely, and going for separate tools for each personalization step.

    That’s right. Interactive onboarding.

    Remember all the ways I said you can personalize an onboarding call above?

    Interactive onboarding is initially the same for everyone. But it is also fit for all those methods. And even better, most interactive onboarding tools have built-in features to make sure you personalize your onboarding flow.

    Personalization at its finest: Advanced Analytics and Segmentation 📈

    If you are a firm believer that onboarding calls are the way to go let me read your mind real quick.

    You think interactive onboarding flows are cool but you still hesitate since they can’t be personal like phone calls. You think they lack the human touch, that they are practical but not personal.

    I will have to prove you wrong.

    UserGuiding's recent Advanced User Analytics and Segmentation feature paves the way for your hyper-personalized customer onboarding flows that set you up for success. 

    With advanced analytics and segmentation you can:

    ✅ create specific guides for users who haven’t completed their onboarding in a given period of time,

    create interactive tours for users who haven’t checked out some features that they might like yet,

    ✅ create advanced walkthroughs for users who might need further directions after performing certain actions, and more!

    Quality Assurance

    Then there is quality.

    I can’t keep count of all the times I have promoted certain tools and platforms to my friends as a customer just because I was able to get quality customer service. And that includes onboarding calls.

    But then again, I had quite a lot of bad experiences as well.

    The truth is, when you include the human touch in your onboarding process, you have to remember one thing: the human in ‘human touch’ refers to an actual human being.

    And that human might not be the best fit for an onboarding call every day, every time.

    So are you going to leave your onboarding flow to chance or are you going to trust a more stable yet still human option for better quality?

    Bet you know the answer 🤭


    When compared to cost, scalability, personalization, and quality, effectiveness is a super relative metric.

    Yet we have some solid evidence that shows one true winner: interactive onboarding.

    How come?

    Let me introduce you to some success stories businesses in distress achieved with interactive onboarding.

    👉 Indicata, a car dealership platform powered by Autorola Group, was suffering from poor feature adoption rates. They were doing onboarding through video calls but sadly, they realized that it wasn’t sticking and users barely used the more advanced features.

    Life wasn’t easy for a platform working in 13 different markets.

    What they did was look for a better option for their onboarding flows and that was when they found UserGuiding.

    The first to realize the impact was the staff, interactive onboarding was supporting them in what they were doing and everything was simply running smoother.

    And the metrics? It took only 7 days for the new onboarding flow to prove its worth. Indicata’s feature adoption rate flew to 47% for that week.

    👉 Another great example is Next Fit, a management software for gyms, which was also going through some hard times with their onboarding calls.

    On top of the fact that Next Fit’s user persona is gym trainers between the ages 30-45, they also had to onboard multiple people at once due to the way Next Fit is used. In the same video call.

    They needed a change quickly before losing users and they found UserGuiding right about then.

    By setting up a 10-20 minute interactive onboarding flow spread into different sessions, Next Fit was able to reduce onboarding calls by 80% and support tickets by 50% which translates to a correlation between using onboarding calls and the need for support. 

    And how does all this relate to you? What do you choose? How do you decide?

    Onboarding calls vs interactive flows: what to choose?

    Let me put it all on the board and explain the advantages and disadvantages of both one last time.

    Onboarding calls are:

    ✅ Personal with a human touch,

    ✅ More affordable for startups and small businesses with few employees,

    ✅ High-quality service under the right conditions

    ❌ Too costly for a business with a growing user base,

    ❌ Not highly scalable and/or scalability depending on too many factors

    ❌ Quality depends on the employee performing the onboarding call

    Interactive onboarding is:

    ✅ Open and ready to be personalized with in-app features like analytics and segmentation,

    ✅ More affordable for growing startups and bigger companies alike,

    ✅ More scalable and effective according to numerous customer stories,

    ✅ The same performance and quality for all users, non-dependant on the human factor

    ❌ Not very affordable for startups and/or small businesses with a small user base,

    ❌ Harder to implement on outdated platforms and/or websites,

    ❌ May not reach its full potential used on products that require too little onboarding

    All in all, if you are a growing startup or company with a product that needs some explaining, you want interactive onboarding.

    If you are a startup with a small team that is not profiting yet or if you are a smaller business with a small, select user base and a rather simple tool, you want onboarding calls. 


    No startup starts up with a full-fledged interactive onboarding flow.

    We all go by calls and emails first. But as your business grows, it is important to be on the lookout for better opportunities to onboard your users to your product the right way.

    Hopefully, this article will help you decide whether you are good to go with good old onboarding calls or you are ready to jump to a more affordable and scalable option.

    Good luck choosing!

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