First times are always frightening. Onboarding new clients also fall into the first-timer category. Your client is nervous and hesitant, hoping that they have made the right decision when choosing to work with you. On the other hand, you are also hoping that you can adjust to their working style fast, so results can start appearing.
It is easy to push too much and think way too far in advance by staging plans on how to prove clients that you care and value them, but before it goes too far, remember that without a strong foundation, your relationship might end quickly.
The onboarding process is a test – you would either pass or fail it, but once you pass – you can create amazing things, build trust and develop partnerships. Let’s get deeper into the onboarding process and check out the best practises and tips.
What Is Onboarding?
Onboarding is a process of guiding a new client to your business. It is an excellent way to introduce your company, talk about the vision and goals, discuss concerns and start new projects. By the end of this, you aim to make your client feel comfortable, ensure that the results will be delivered and create a long-lasting, beneficial relationship. Bear in mind, that onboarding process starts ONLY when your lead has decided to become your client.
To succeed in your onboarding process, consider the following ‘must-dos’:
- Present the action plan required to achieve your client’s business goals and outcomes.
- Map client’s onboarding milestones.
- Share your client’s milestones and journey map.
- Track the key milestones by being data-driven.
- Manage and inspect exceptions and inconsistencies.
Why Client Onboarding Is Critical?
Although an outstanding first impression might create a foundation for a long-term business relationship, a negative onboarding experience might cause your client to leave.
Let’s look at how the successful client onboarding process might benefit your business.
- More efficiency with effective planning: Once you develop a concrete process which can
- be repeated for onboarding clients, you will create efficiencies which will lead you to greater business and more successful relationships.
- More customers and established relationships: If your onboarding plan is effective, you can attract your clients quickly and efficiently. This will also lead you to more upsells and word-of-mouth recommendations.
- Preventing churn and developing customer loyalty: Demonstrate the value and create a relationship by keeping the communication ongoing and making improvements on the go. Place your client’s KPI’s and metrics at the forefront, so you can be seen as a valuable partner.
- Decreasing the chances of inconveniences: If you discuss the goals and aims of your client and set expectations during the onboarding process, you will reduce the chances of failures and mistakes.
- Ensuring compliance: If you have a developed repeatable onboarding process, you can make sure that all the documents and legal requirements are settled and taken care of.
Client Onboarding Process
Effective onboarding is all about setting expectations in the areas which require improvement and making sure that communication is clear and two-way. Although there is no single model for client onboarding, there are few steps which might help you make it smoother and increase your chances of a successful further relationship.
Send a welcome email and follow up with a questionnaire
As your lead decided to go ahead with your service, now it is the time to build the proposal which will be sent to the client. Send a welcome email along with the proposal and include contract and payment details. If it takes longer than expected, follow up on your client and settle the required documents so you can progress to the next stage.
Once the documents are signed and sorted, payment has been received, you can move on into gathering some information about your client. Use the questionnaire to collect the data required so you will be able to deliver better insights and formulate the strategies which will be more appealing to your client. When developing a survey/questionnaire, you might consider to include the following:
- Business information (phone number, address, the main point of contact, etc.)
- Has the company used a similar service before?
- What are the aims of your business which would make it more successful?
- What are the goals and objectives of your business?
- Ask if they know someone who could need your services too – you might get potential leads which will turn into successful onboarding.
Start the project and allocate the client to the right team
When you gather the required information (mostly from signup forms, live chats, surveys and webinars), the work can start rolling. For a stronger relationship, you might consider connecting your client to the team which shares some similarities and common interests. You should also arrange the meeting with the team and guide them through the main information such as:
- Provide a project summary, supply the research you have on the client and share tips on how to make this a successful project.
- Guide the team through the approximate timeline and what is required from the client in order to finalise the project.
- Share the previous communication with the client – you should also have it in your CRM.
- Once the information is passed over to the team, you should launch the project in your preferred project management system or workflow software.
Since the briefing is completed you should consider running a meeting between the delegated team and the client. After the meeting is finished, you should have cleared all the doubts and questions, and be ready to take the project further. It should also build trust between the client and the team, so the relationship would start evolving. Here are some tips on the things which should be discussed in the kick-off meeting:
- Introduce the team and the client.
- Ask the client to confirm the goals and objectives.
- Provide the timeline and strategies, adjust them if necessary.
- Give the options in case of inconveniences.
- Guide the client through the next steps and finish with Q&A.
Make a check-up call, review the action plan
After the process has started and tasks on the plan have been completed, you should reach your client (ideally after 30 days) to ask about the experience and development of their business.
Skirmantas Venckus who is also the growth hacker at Sender.net – the email marketing provider that is focused on user-friendliness, affordability, and utility - claims that:
At this stage, you should get as much feedback as possible so if the mistakes occur you could quickly sort them out and keep your client. Remember, communication is a key to building a successful relationship so keep your interest up and make sure your client feels valued. You should also be aware that the first 90 days is the time when your client is most likely to churn, so use this time wisely to keep your partnership ongoing.
Conclusion: Build trust and partnership with your customers
Now, your client should be fully onboarded and successfully using your services. To keep the relationship consistent, check up on your client repeatedly and review the progress together. Amend the goals, strategies and objectives for further improvements. Keep building the trust and partnership. You might also consider creating a survey so your client could give you a constant feedback and you would be able to keep improving your service and business in general. The onboarding process is a continuous work in progress, so collect the data and keep developing!