Designing the ideal customer activation

Working as consultant means you see al lot of good things done badly. One of the things I have seen done wrong more often than not is having a solid strategy to attract, onboard and retain your average user.

Developed as an internal project for Adaptive Lab, Customer Activation was our answer to all the common mistakes we saw around.

Each designer in the team had the responsibility of designing the end to end flow of activating a customer for a specific sector. I chose a financial service.

My role


Type of project

Internal project

The problem

When it comes to acquiring, onboarding and retaining customers a lot of company fail

To solve this problem we envisioned a framework in which we could show what good customer activation process is. Drawing from our experience and knowledge in the area of designing customer facing products and services, we set to:


Map the steps through which a customer has to go through to becomes a user.


Map all of the different features and UX element that make those steps


Design end to end flows to show the best practices for each sector we picked

The framework

Defining our framework and metrics of success

The first step was to set a framework from which we can evaluate what it means to successfully activate a customer. We built our framework around three key steps, aquisition, activation and retention.
Having a strategy for each of these point would mean you successfully activated your customer.

Created with Sketch.

We then set ourselves a success metric that would tell if a customer has been successfully activated. This ensured that for each sector we picked we had a target that would shape our journey from start to activation.

a new kind of bank

Introducing ABNK

We created a fictional bank and gave it a witty name, ABNK.
Being a fairly small bank we thought that a good starting point would be to find the right audience and offer them something they can’t refuse.

The customer segment for our fictional bank is people that need to be able open an account quickly (e.g. expats) and who think digital first.

Created with Sketch. ABNK
Step 1

Step 1: Acquisition

I designed a landing page that would show what a good acquisition strategy for ABNK would look like.

A clear upfront offer

The landing page is your first contact with a potential user. At a glance a customer should be able to understand who you are, what it is that are you offering and what makes you different than other competitors.
With ABNK's landing page we answered these question with each section, clearly stating our offering first and showing what makes us the go to choice for our customers.

I'm interactive
Created with Sketch.
Step 2

Step 2: Activate

Next is activating your customer and the best way to do that is by going through the two stages of enticing and onboarding them.

Give them something along the way

A good activation practice is to give something valuable to the customer as they go by your signup process. If you are an e-commerce site, give them a free discount and if you’re ABNK give them a way to spend money asap.

Doing so will give them a reason to use the app straightway.
It’s a win win.

Fast track them to the real product

No one likes filling forms, especially so on mobile. With ABNK we designed the signup to be the fastest signup possible in order to have the user in the app fast.

I'm interactive
Created with Sketch.
Created with Sketch.

Make discovery delightful

You got them in, now it’s time to make sure they keep using your service.
Being an app that works on customer data, ABNK has nothing to show to a new user. We wanted to use that empty space to onboard people and prompt the user to do what the bank wants them to do, in this case top up the card.

We also thought that was a good moment to give a tone of voice to the app. With the use of illustration and a bit of quirkiness we made the app discovery delightful and fun.

I'm interactive
Created with Sketch.
Step 3

Step 3: Retention

Retention is all about making sure the customer keeps on engaging with your service regularly. Wether the user comes back or not be there for them.

A retention strategy changes drastically depending on the service offered. In our case it turned out to be a personal message suggesting they check out a feature they didn’t activate or reminding them that ABNK doesn’t charge fees on exchange.

Created with Sketch.

Congrats! You just activated your customer :)

That’s it, you have successfully activated an ABNK customer.
There is a lot of people out there doing a great job with some of the points I talked about. Here is a list of my favourites, go check them out:

The guys at intercom are amazing at onboarding and retaining customers. Check out their blog, it has loads of intereting content.

Looking for inspiration on onboarding?
Check out, the onboarding section of UXarchive and the walktrhough section of Pttrns

If you’re sending out emails and looking for fresh ideas, check out Really Good Emails