In this FROGED Fireside Chat we sit down with the Director of Product at Shift, Michael Foucher, and discuss the importance of the user journey and how to build a great onboarding process to increase product adoption.

Transcript: Analysis and Implementation of Michael’s Onboarding Journey with Shift

Here’s a sneak peek at Michael and Shift’s origin story, and how daily struggles with managing email accounts and tools led to a new tool and understanding the importance of the onboarding journey.

Hi, everybody. I’m very excited today to have Shift, which is also known as Try Shift Director of Product, Michael Foucher. If you don’t know Shift, Shift is a desktop app for kind of streamlining, streamlining, and collaborating across your accounts and your workflows. It also, for some of us, speeds up our performance a little bit because we don’t have a thousand tabs open.

But before Shift, he was the Director of Products at Redbrick, which is a leading provider of desktop software and analytics and distribution of technology. In essence, Michael brings with us today 20 years of experience which I think is critical in bridging the gaps that we often find in departments and in the customer experience to build innovative and new products that are also exceptionally profitable, which is an important thing.

He’s got experience from startups to enterprises, and I think his ability to lead tech teams in the development and launching of both software and hardware solutions is quite vast. So that’s my takeaway. But let me turn it over to Michael before we get started and tell our audience a little bit more about your background and what you’ve been doing at Shift for the past almost five years now.

Yeah, thank you so much. And that was a great intro. Because I’ve been in the tech industry for a long time and have worked on various products, I won’t go into too much detail about all that work. I’ll talk a little bit more about Shift and to give you just an idea of how the idea of Shift was born, it was really born out of a problem that I was having.

You mentioned when I was director of Product at Redbrick, I was managing multiple ongoing products that we had and that we were at one point, it was up to six or seven. And every time we built a new product, we create a new domain for it name, for it marketing. And then we would set up email accounts, Gmail accounts for its G Suite. And so I ran into this issue of having to manage seven or eight different G Suite domains. And if everyone remembers the bad old days of seven or eight years ago, nine years ago, when if you tried to log into multiple Google G Suite accounts in the same browser, it would get confused and you often would be logged out of one and be logged into another.

And then you’d open a doc and it would say you didn’t have access. So I was trying to manage this. I would have Chrome open up on one window. I would have an incognito window of Chrome open on another, so they didn’t talk to each other. Then I’d open up Safari, then do a private window of Safari so I could have all these multiple email accounts. And it was a bit insane. It was a crazy process.

 I was looking for a solution that could help me manage all of these email accounts in one place and that wouldn’t get confused about what I was logged into and that’s where the idea of shift was born

There were Chrome profiles as well, but that was also difficult. To move back and forth between, particularly if you needed quick access. So I was looking for a solution that could help me manage all of these email accounts in one place and that wouldn’t get confused about what I was logged into. And that’s where the idea of Shift was born, was just in solving that very simple process of having your email accounts all in one place. And in every email account, you also had your calendar and drive, and you can move easily and seamlessly back and forth between them. And that was really what started Shift in this journey now of where we’re at today with the product that we have, and we have tens of thousands of people enjoying using it every day.
And I’m really excited about talking about some of the processes that we’re using in Shift in this discussion.

Yeah. So thank you for that. What we’re talking about today is something near and dear I know to your heart, which is when it’s time to fix your onboarding and how to do it. And I like that you are always like, it’s not easy. Also, first of all, we do love Shift. We have our clients use it. We use it. And you guys have quite a niche as a desktop solution and I think a very avid, loyal customer base. What made you realize that something was wrong with your onboarding process, knowing that about your products?

And I wouldn’t say so much that we thought something was wrong is that we had an opportunity to improve. As part of that process, we always had this dream that we wanted to improve our onboarding process. And this gave us the opportunity excuse, as we were moving to this new platform, to finally go that next step and build an onboarding process that we felt would really sort of serve our customers well. So that was really the impetus to change. Our old onboarding process was good, but like all onboarding processes, they need to be worked on actively and changed. But when something is working and it’s so critical to the success of your product, you are so reluctant to change stuff because you’re just worried that one small change could really alter your metrics going forward.

Our old onboarding process was good, but like all onboarding processes, they need to be worked on actively and changed.

But we saw this opportunity with a brand new version of Shift to really just go all in on this. And I felt very strongly that what we wanted to achieve with this would work. Now, I will talk later about how that’s not probably the best way to go as a product manager, but this I think, and as I describe it, I think it will become obvious that, yes, that probably sounds like improvements that no one will complain about. And we didn’t take away anything. We just made the process a lot smoother and a lot more automated.

Okay, so I’m assuming you analyzed some data there and identified key areas for improvement. How did you map out the steps, though? That’s always critical. I think a lot of people want to know about that, right?

Without obviously visually sharing what we do and how it works. Part of the key metrics, and I’ll talk about a bit more of this later, is that I’ve talked about Shift and managing email accounts. And so one of the primary goals of our onboarding process is to allow people to add all the email accounts they use as quickly and easily as possible. That is like our guiding light to get people into our product. And we analyze our data on our previous onboarding process quite heavily. And on average, we have probably it sounds odd, but like 2 or 3 email accounts added per new customer. And so one of our guiding lights in the new process was if it was successful, we would increase that average amount of new accounts added. And we have looked at the data on this new process, it has now jumped to about 2 or 7 email accounts oh wow. And that’s great. Like anything up is good in that in that sense.

So the data we were looking at is the amount of email accounts added and then as part of also our onboarding process is that we want people because along with being able to add G suite Gmail accounts, you can also add and all the derivatives live any of those Microsoft free accounts as well as Office 365 email accounts.

You can add those to our products. So we look, you know, at all of those and then the other half of our onboarding process, there are a few pieces in there for sure other than that but is adding apps. So Shift also includes a directory of almost 2000 web-based apps that you can add to the product. So in the onboarding, we also offer an opportunity to add apps to the product as you set it up. And we did that in our earlier onboarding but now we are doing it in a much more automated way and I’ll explain that a little bit further. So yeah, those were the two metrics that we were looking at and we have also…

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Want more content from the experts on Onboarding? We recommend you watch our Fireside Chat with Donna Weber – Why Onboarding is Critical to Your Success