If your client onboarding process isn’t clear, you risk early contract cancellations and retention of clients, as your onboarding process will set the stage for how it is to work with you and your team.
You should have a clearly written process that helps your clients settle into your business with ease, makes them feel cared for and safe, and assures them that they made the right choice.
Rather than leaving them wondering about what you’re working on during those first few weeks, it’s imperative to step up your level of communication and over deliver on this new relationship.
Why is Client Onboarding Important?
The client onboarding process is important as it allows you to familiarize your services to your clients, build rapport, provide a platform to look into their concerns, and follow-up on the experiences they have with your business.
A clearly written process ensures that the clients are satisfied with their decision and the service delivered.
Do you know that satisfied clients are good advocates/marketers for your business?
With this new knowledge, here’s a client onboarding process every service based business needs to add to their tool box to help them fill up their pipelines with satisfied clients:
Set Expectations Early and Often
As you are building a relationship with your potential clients while actively selling, it is important to touch on your workflow processes and timelines before any contracts are signed. Setting clear expectations prior to closing the sale will help your client visualize what your working relationship would be like and eliminate any unnecessary surprises after they sign your contracts. Here are a few examples to set clear expectations and boundaries on:
Your working hours
What the onboarding process looks like and how long it lasts
Typical turnaround time on tasks
If you allow for a review process and how many revisions you allow
How you plan to communicate (email, project management tool, face-face)
Your typical response rate if you plan to communicate via email
Who will be handling their account if you have a team
Setting expectations early and often allows open communication between you and your client, and allows your client to better access whether your service will meet their expectations.
Be sure to allow your client time to address any concerns, ask questions, and give honest feedback. Doing this helps you set realistic goals for your working relationship.
Congratulations! You just signed your next client. Time to go to work! Immediately following the transfer of payment and signing of contracts, send a brief welcome email or video to your client with great excitement for bringing them on-board!
By this point, you should have briefed your team (if you have one) and assigned specific roles for the client’s project. You will want to introduce your team leads to your client in their welcome email.
Include a link to a Getting Started Form also known as the client onboarding checklist and questionnaire where you ask for client logins, social accounts, information about their CMS and CRM, any notes, competitive information, brand guidelines, etc. Everything your client will need to submit to you in order for you to get up and running.
Pro Tip: Your client hired you to remove tasks from their plate, so plan ahead and ask for everything you will need from them at one time. download my onboarding checklist to use the exact process I use in your own business.
The last thing to include in your welcome email or video, will be a link to your scheduling calendar for your client to choose a time for a kickoff call, I like Acuity Scheduling the best. Encourage your client to schedule your kickoff call within the first week after signing the contract. This helps to keep the momentum high and projects moving forward. Be sure to outline who needs to be on the call from the client’s team and the agenda for the kickoff call so that your client can schedule accordingly.
Have a Successful Kickoff Call
If you sent your client the Getting Started Form, you already have initial information about the client. Now, use the kickoff call to dig deeper into those details. Go over their answers to make sure you are both on the same page.
Then, use this 1-1 time to discuss topics that may be too detailed to ask in a questionnaire or that you need to clarify final details on. Consider this a brain dump of the client relieving all of the information they have housed in their head and transferring it over to your team. Such as the following:
Marketing metrics they use to measure success
Leave plenty of space during the meeting for the client to ask questions or give detailed information on the above topics. The last thing you will want is for your client to feel rushed during your initial meeting.
Finally, end the call by giving the client clear expectations for what the next steps will be. Let them know when they can expect the first deliverable from you.
Have a Follow-Up Plan
Continue to check in with your client after the first couple of months to assess their experience with the service you delivered so far.
Have a set of questions to tick off and allow them to relay any concerns they may have on the deliverables.
A follow-up plan is very important as it builds/further solidifies your relationship with the client, therefore, eradicating chances of churn.
Don’t miss a the chance to retain more clients and ALWAYS over-deliver from the very first week, you just might surprised what happens to your business once you create this same process I did.
Remember, every service-based business is unique, so you can customize my Getting Started Form to ensure that everything you need to collect from your client is included in your onboarding checklist.