Client Onboarding Process | 7 Easy Steps to Follow - Ajackus

Client Onboarding Process | 7 Easy Steps to Follow

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Siddhesh Patankar

Sep 13, 2022·10 mins read

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    A great first impression goes a long way in front of anyone, let alone in front of clients. Client onboarding is similar to that. As the name suggests, it is welcoming a new client into your company. It is said that a client is likely to churn three times more in the first thirty days. Hence, it becomes a mere impression and a crucial business strategy.

    Whether you operate an accounting practice, business consultancy, digital agency, wealth management firm, or any other client-centric enterprise, the client onboarding process holds immense significance.

    Today, let us elucidate everything you need to comprehend about client onboarding and furnish practical counsel to enhance your procedures.

    Understanding the Client Onboarding Process

    Client onboarding is the process of ushering new clients into your business. It serves as an opportunity to initiate a robust relationship, familiarize the client with your operations, address any queries, and delineate the forthcoming strategy.

    The overarching objective is to instill in the client the conviction that they have made a judicious choice and that your practice is poised to meet their diverse needs.

    Seemingly straightforward, isn’t it?

    Significance of Client Onboarding Process

    Client onboarding transcends being a mere supplementary feature; it is a pivotal business strategy. When executed effectively, it yields several benefits:

    Reduced Client Churn

    As previously highlighted, the initial 90 days pose a high risk of client churn. Building relationships and showcasing value early in their journey can foster client retention.

    Enhanced Efficiency

    Onboarding is mutually beneficial. It equips you with essential information, positioning you optimally to commence work for the client. Consequently, this boosts efficiency and circumvents bottlenecks down the line.

    Scope Creep Mitigation

    Scope creep during client onboarding is the gradual expansion of project requirements beyond the initially agreed scope. This typically occurs due to client requests and may result in delays and higher costs. Early establishment of expectations ensures mutual awareness of what constitutes scope creep. Vigilance in the preliminary stages reduces the likelihood of scope creep issues later.

    Client Satisfaction

    Clients prefer engaging with practices that exhibit competence, possess a clear action plan, and forge robust relationships. Demonstrating these qualities not only ensures client satisfaction but also significantly elevates your Net Promoter Score (NPS).

    Expanded Client Base

    By delighting clients early on, you lay the foundation for enduring relationships, upselling to existing clients, and garnering referrals based on your stellar work and client rapport.

    Ensured Compliance

    A meticulously devised, highly repeatable onboarding process integrates compliance seamlessly into your operations rather than treating it as an afterthought.

    However, not all client onboarding processes are equal. To reap the aforementioned benefits, it is imperative to systematize and optimize your onboarding process, thereby facilitating efficient work and fostering effective relationships.

    Client Onboarding Guide: 7 Steps to Success

    Let’s dive into our Client Onboarding Guide for a smooth ride from proposals to debrief meetings. Let’s understand together!

    1. Proposal, Contract, and Payment

    Commence by obtaining a signed contract (engagement letter) from the client. Without a binding agreement in place, refrain from commencing any work. This contract should encompass crucial pricing and billing details.

    Utilizing tools can streamline this process, attaching the contract and terms of service to the business proposal. This consolidation simplifies the communication, requiring only one comprehensive document.

    For those not using Ignition, manually compile the proposal agreement, and contract (using tools like DocuSign), and send the invoice through your preferred invoicing software. Subsequently, follow up with the client to secure the two signed documents and payment confirmation.

    If your business operates on a time-based pricing model, the process remains analogous, with invoicing transpiring post-project completion.

    2. Client Onboarding Questionnaire

    Prior to embarking on work for a specific client, ensure possession of all requisite information through onboarding questionnaires. Platforms like Typeform facilitate file uploads, allowing clients to provide comprehensive responses.

    Consider making the submission of essential information mandatory before advancing in the onboarding process. Sample questions for the questionnaire encompass business details, primary points of contact, project success metrics, past collaborations, software logins, and the potential solicitation of referrals.

    3. Assign the Client and Initiate the Project

    Once all necessary information is amassed, allocate the client to the designated team. Aim for commonalities between the lead contact and the client to foster a robust working relationship.

    Conduct a meeting with the team assuming responsibility. Share key details such as the project summary, client expectations, timeline, relevant client research, and requisite client contributions for project completion. Maintain comprehensive records of all communication in your CRM or client management software.

    Post-meeting, launch the project on your chosen project management system (PMS) or workflow software, inviting client collaboration if customary.

    4. Client Kickoff Meeting

    This meeting serves as the project’s inaugural event, setting a positive tone and fostering trust between the client and the team. In contemporary times, face-to-face meetings often yield to video calls. Use calendar software to schedule a video conference through platforms like Zoom and Google Meet.

    Key components of the kickoff meeting include introductions, elucidation of client business goals, detailing major deliverables and responsibilities with a timeline, addressing scope creep, outlining next steps, and concluding with a Q&A session.

    The objective is to establish rapport, address client queries, and delineate the project’s trajectory.

    5. Provide a Welcome Package

    Following the kickoff meeting, extend a welcome package to the client. This serves as an opportunity to educate and affirm their decision. The package can encompass both digital assets and physical items.

    Digital assets may include a comprehensive business cheat sheet, essential readings, case studies showcasing past successes, and a personalized welcome video. Physical items, sent through services like Handwrytten or Printfection, could range from handwritten welcome letters to branded hats or shirts.

    Efforts to make the client feel valued and appreciated contribute to a positive client experience.

    6. Checkup Call

    Thirty days into the collaboration, schedule a checkup call to ensure the smooth progression of the onboarding process. This serves as an opportunity to rectify any early mistakes, maintain client satisfaction, and gently prompt the client for any outstanding information or documents.

    Given the significance of the initial 90 days in shaping the client’s perception, identifying and addressing issues early on enhances client retention and relationship building.

    7. Refine and Improve the Process

    Upon concluding the onboarding process, schedule a debrief meeting involving both parties. Evaluate the efficacy of the process by addressing questions such as the completeness of the onboarding questionnaire, client understanding of project details, satisfaction with provided merchandise, and any pending client contributions.

    This iterative feedback loop ensures continuous improvement, allowing for the refinement of the onboarding process based on real-time insights.

    In essence, a well-orchestrated client onboarding process is pivotal for fostering enduring client relationships, mitigating churn, and fortifying the foundation for sustained business growth.

    How to Onboard New Clients

    Effective client onboarding is paramount for fostering lasting relationships and ensuring successful collaborations. This guide delves into key strategies to master the client onboarding process, facilitating a smooth transition from the pre-onboarding phase to the crucial first 60-90 days of collaboration.

    Understanding Customer Onboarding Needs

    During the sales qualification phase, representatives must identify customer pains and communicate how the company’s services address those issues. This transparency is essential to prevent miscommunication post-sale.

    Defining Campaign Goals

    Engage clients in discussions about their big-picture goals for the initial campaign or project. Aligning expectations and setting achievable goals lay the foundation for a successful collaboration.

    Agreeing on Deliverables

    Clearly define terms and deliverables in proposals or contracts, ensuring they align with the client’s goals and the company’s capabilities.

    Gathering Essential Details

    Early discussions regarding the point of contact, budget, and timelines are vital for a seamless collaboration process.

    Mastering client onboarding can prove to be a game-changer for you. So, as a business owner, or someone who deals with clients regularly, you must have a clear understanding of defining goals, and effective client onboarding which ensures lasting partnerships.

    After Signing

    Post-signing, follow the below steps to further nurture the client experience.

    Sending a Welcome Packet

    Upon signing, promptly send a welcome packet or email to make clients feel part of the family and set expectations for the onboarding process.

    Scheduling a Discovery Call

    While a welcome packet provides initial information, personal touch through a discovery call helps address client queries and organizes the kick-off call.

    Kick-Off Call Essentials

    Make sure to follow these essential steps for a successful kick-off call:

    • Collecting Process Information: Understand the client’s internal processes and preferences, especially when taking over from the client’s team.
    • Defining Client Success: Obtain the client’s definition of success to align team and client expectations.
    • Revisiting Deliverables: Confirm that agreed-upon deliverables align with the client’s expectations and are achievable based on the team’s understanding.
    • Reinforcing Value: Address last-minute objections by emphasizing the team’s specialties and strategies for client success.
    • Setting Communication Cadence: Establish expectations for communication frequency to avoid misunderstandings and ensure a smooth collaboration.
    • Outlining Action Items: Define responsibilities and deadlines for both parties, ensuring clarity on content and collateral needed for project success.

    To sum up, a great kick-off call is key to success. Clear communication and shared goals make the journey ahead smooth.

    Post Kick-Off Meeting

    After a successful kick-off meeting, the journey continues with the following:

    • Revisiting Client’s Definition of Success: Regular check-ins remind the client of the long-term goals and benefits of the engagement.
    • Creating an SLA: Introduce a service-level agreement (SLA) to establish specific deliverables and priorities, using tools like HubSpot’s SLA Management.
    • Agreeing on Smaller Milestones: Set smaller milestone goals to showcase progress, gain client buy-in, and manage expectations effectively.

    Post-kick-off, maintain momentum. Regularly revisit client goals, introduce SLAs, and agree on smaller milestones for a successful and collaborative journey.

    First 60-90 Days

    The first 60-90 days are critical, so, focus on trust, communication, and refinement. This period shapes a solid foundation for success.

    • Continuing Trust Building: Ongoing efforts to establish trust by delivering on commitments, maintaining transparency, and addressing concerns promptly.
    • Reporting Milestones and Tasks: Keep clients informed about achieved milestones and completed tasks to reinforce the value of the collaboration.
    • Seeking Feedback: Regularly seek client feedback to identify and address minor issues before they escalate.
    • Conducting Health Check Reports: Conduct health check reports to assess onboarding a customer process and ensure proactive issue resolution.
    • Standardize Your Client Onboarding Process: Utilize welcome and onboarding templates to standardize your process, ensuring consistency in onboarding, messaging, and overall procedures.

    In the initial 60-90 days, prioritize trust-building, clear communication, and continuous improvement. Regular reporting, feedback, and a standardized process foster lasting client satisfaction and success.

    Key Tips for Onboarding New Clients

    Implementing the following tips and best practices in your onboarding process sets you on the path to building strong, mutually beneficial client relationships. So, invest in people-focused onboarding today and watch your sales blossom in the future.

    Practice a People-Focused Approach

    Emphasize the importance of customizing services or products to cater to the unique needs and goals of each client. A one-size-fits-all approach can alienate clients, making a people-focused strategy essential.

    Address fears, concerns, and questions from the outset to establish trust early in the relationship. Revisit and reinforce solutions to concerns raised during the sales process, such as presenting a detailed quarterly plan, highlighting quick wins, or setting clear expectations.

    Stress the significance of maintaining organization throughout the engagement, with particular emphasis during the critical onboarding stage.

    Building Trust and Personalization

    In establishing robust client relationships, the emphasis lies on cultivating trust from the start. This involves prioritizing personalization by understanding each client’s unique needs and tailoring services accordingly. A generic approach is avoided to maintain authenticity, as it can lead to dissatisfaction.

    Actively addressing concerns throughout the sales process is crucial for showcasing transparency and responsiveness. Regularly revisiting and reinforcing solutions, such as detailed plans, early wins, and clear expectations, further demonstrates commitment.

    Seamless Client Onboarding as the Foundation for Success

    Seamless client onboarding is considered the foundation for success, treated as an ongoing process rather than a one-time event. A proactive, collaborative onboarding experience empowers clients, fostering a strong foundation for future collaboration.

    The importance of trust-building during onboarding is highlighted, with effective communication, transparency, and consistent support solidifying the client relationship.

    People-Focused Approach for Long-Term Success

    A people-focused approach reaps various rewards, including stronger client relationships, enhanced sales potential, and improved efficiency and productivity. Prioritizing individual needs and building trust cultivates long-term partnerships while satisfied clients become advocates, leading to positive word-of-mouth and increased sales opportunities. Smooth onboarding minimizes friction and delays, allowing for quicker project progress and cost savings.

    Move beyond Transactional Communication

    Moving beyond transactional communication involves personalizing interactions by using the client’s name, referencing past conversations, and expressing genuine interest in their business.

    Sharing relevant insights, such as industry news or resources aligned with their needs, and celebrating milestones contribute to a more meaningful connection.

    Proactive Problem-Solving for Client Satisfaction

    It is essential in maintaining client satisfaction. Anticipating potential roadblocks at the beginning and presenting proactive solutions demonstrates foresight. Transparent communication during issues, active problem-solving, and keeping clients informed throughout the process are crucial.

    Going the extra mile by offering assistance beyond the initial service agreement further solidifies dedication and support.

    Conclusion: Seamless Client Onboarding Process

    Mastering the art of client onboarding requires attention to detail, a people-focused mindset, and a commitment to establishing trust. Here’s a quick summary of what we learned:

    Step 1: Secure contracts, use tools and ensure payment completion.
    Step 2: Use Typeform or any other tool for mandatory client onboarding questionnaires.
    Step 3: Allocate clients, conduct team meetings, and launch the project.
    Step 4: Schedule a positive client kickoff video conference meeting.
    Step 5: Enhance client experience by extending a thoughtful welcome package.
    Step 6: Schedule a 30-day checkup call for collaboration progress.
    Step 7: Conclude onboarding with a debrief meeting for improvement.

    Following these proven tips and best practices will pave the way for successful client relationships and set the stage for future growth. Onboard with confidence, and watch your future revenue numbers rise.

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