Whether you’re a business consultancy, a digital agency, a financial service institution, or any other client-centric business — your client onboarding process is essential. In particular, within the first three months when clients are 3 times more likely to churn. The most common customer experience breakpoints happen during the early parts of the customer journey.
Client onboarding = bringing on a new client to your business. It begins when a lead agrees to become a client for your business.
Onboarding should be seamless and flexible throughout. It offers an opportunity to put the client up to speed, communicate expectations, analyze their goals, address any concerns and build a meaningful relationship right off the bat.
The customer’s journey begins at the first inquiry and ends when they get the final result or product. It is effortless now for customers to sift through other competitive offers if they are confused or not satisfied/confident in your brand.
When customers can experience the ease, speed, excellent communication and convenience, you offer when onboarding, they hold you to high standards, and it reaffirms their decision to work with you.
Benefits of improving client onboarding
1. Improving processes and integrating them with existing working systems will provide customers with the experiences they want.
2. When you work on building lasting relationships and showing value early on, potential clients will stick on – reducing the churn rate.
3. A working relationship that has a well-defined plan of action will make clients happy and satisfied – and refer more clients to you.
4. Setting and discussing expectations reduces instances where features on a project expand from what was initially set (scope creep)
5. Promotes efficient and credible working systems that positively impact and scale your business
6. Systemizing your onboarding process takes care of the legal aspects of your business and enhances compliance and transparency.
7. If you can guarantee an excellent ROI for your client early on, it is easier to upsell on larger scopes of work.
8. Helps capitalize on the initial momentum, thus increasing efficiency.
8 Ways To Streamline Your Client Onboarding Process
1. Assess your current onboarding capabilities
Assessing where your organization currently stands is not only the best place to start but a perfect source for gathering valuable insight to improve on. Your client onboarding process is a constant work in progress that should be improved — to develop a successful digital onboarding strategy.
- First-year attrition rate.
- Acquisition cost for new customers.
- The time it takes on average to onboard a new customer.
- Who or what causes bottlenecks in your business? How can you eliminate them?
- The channels commonly used to start the onboarding process, and those used to complete it. Do they differ or not?
- How do you measure customer onboarding satisfaction?
- Helpful innovations to the onboarding process and business.
2. Outline milestones in your client’s journey
Brainstorm the steps you will both need to go through to arrive at a preferred outcome before creating the process. Gather information or direction from your clients to get the project off the ground, e.g. as a writer, you can ask for editorial instructions.
You can use a client onboarding questionnaire to organize the process. Typeform and Google Forms are ideal. Ask for the client’s business information, their main point of contact, metrics for a successful project, an opportunity for referrals, etc.
3. Communicate expectations
Build and send a Proposal, Contract and Invoice before you embark on any work. You should base the terms on what you have both discussed and agreed.
Explain to your prospective clients all the stages of your workflow, listen to and address any concerns that may arise. Let customers choose their preferred channels of communication, payment or devices for frictionless onboarding even as you integrate your systems. It helps increase customer satisfaction, which will grow your business.
If you plan on using a systemized project management software (recommended) such as Asana or Basecamp, teach them how to use it. Setting and communicating expectations with a client will instil a sense of confidence moving forward.
4. Put your team up to speed
If you have a team, assign the client to the group taking over. Facilitate a kick-off meeting to set the tone and establish rapport as soon as possible.
Debrief the team on the project’s summary and timeline, client’s expectations, previous communication and their roles/responsibilities.
5. Digitize the process
A systemized flow or process allows for a consistent client and company experience and curbs customer attrition rates. A documented and automated process can easily be tracked, taught and delegated.
A client management platform such as Practice Ignition houses everything related to your clients (contracts, contact information, communication, proposals, payments) all under one roof.
Single vendor integrated platforms eliminate disruptions during transactions and reduce new customer acquisition costs. Therefore, digitize all the steps, the roles and the responsibilities of all parties involved.
6. Find the balance between automation and personalization
Technology has reinvented the way we do things and streamlined very many processes. Automation and digitization are cost-effective processes that save onboarding time, reduce human errors and optimize employee’s adequate time.
However, these processes should not replace human interactions between the client and the firm. Clients prefer the person behind the brand, so strike a balance.
7. Provide a welcome package and follow up with a checkup call
After the kick-off meeting, provide your client with a welcome package that makes them feel special, educates and reinforces their purchase decision. The package may include a welcome video, your business information document, articles or resources, or a handwritten welcome note.
Check up on your client within 30 days to ensure all is well. If you catch mistakes early, sort them to keep them.
8. Utilize quantitative metrics to measure success
Assign definitive and measurable goals to give an objective perspective on the success of a process. Mesure customer satisfaction during onboarding using analytics or metrics that tailor the information on KPIs and how to improve decision making – and refine the onboarding process.
A fine-tuned onboarding process is beneficial to both your company and the client. Continually seek ways to improve your customer’s experience. Remember to measure customer satisfaction and ask for feedback. Collecting data improves the client onboarding process based on facts, not feelings.