Believe it or not, when it comes to taking on new clients in your business, landing them is the easy part. What ensures that you keep a successful and continued relationship for the long haul is making sure your client onboarding process is super slick, so that your clients get that warm and fuzzy feeling (and want to keep you forever!).
Making a great first impression is super important. However, making sure your client’s overall experience is top-notch in the initial 90 day period is absolutely crucial to your continued success. These 90 days can be just as fragile as they can impactful. The U.S. News & World Report found that 82% of clients leave one business and go to another because of client service issues. All of that begins with how they are onboarded.
You can talk the talk and sell every service under the sun on your discovery call, but if your client onboarding process sucks, then they won’t feel like you’re worth the money.
What is a Client Onboarding Process?
In a nutshell, client onboarding is the process of welcoming new clients into your business. When onboarding, you’re beginning to navigate the needs of the client, answering all of their questions, and getting them familiar with the services you’re offering. Onboarding in the right way will give your clients confidence in your abilities, ensure a better likelihood of retention, and perhaps get you some glowing referrals to their biz buddies.
The onboarding period is so important because your client’s initial experiences with you will shape the future of your working relationship and your business’ reputation. So what makes a powerful client onboarding process? Let’s dig into my tried and tested steps for an effective onboarding experience.
1. Give a warm (and personalized) welcome
Your client needs to feel welcomed in by you and your team from the word GO. You want them to be glad they showed up to your party!
Personalizing the initial interactions between you is a great way to kick things off on the right foot. And yes – this CAN be done with automation (or delegated to your team via an SOP). You don’t have to sit writing new welcome emails every damn time.
You can create a general welcome email template for new clients, leaving space to add in any specific details which are relevant to the client. This will personalize the experience in a way that makes them feel like you actually took the time to sit and write out that email. It also takes 80% of the work off of your plate so you can use that time to focus on your other priorities.
Generally speaking, this email should include a welcome greeting, explain that you’re on hand to help the client with whatever they need, and you could also give them access to your call scheduler.
2. Audit their assets
This is perhaps one of the most critical parts of the client onboarding process. Doing your due diligence by auditing your clients existing (or non-existing!) assets is your key reference point for planning the work you’re going to be doing.
Your first port of call should be your client intake form. This is how you’ll capture and assess a lot of important information about the company and the moving parts in your client’s biz. In addition, you’ll need to make sure you have access to all of their assets, so getting access to login details etc is super important (for this I use Lastpass – it’s the easiest and most secure way to share sensitive info).
You could also document and review findings using methods like a SWOT analysis. By looking at what’s not working well or what needs implementing, and vice versa, you’ll get a more clear picture on the action you need to take for your client. And your findings are your chance to position yourself as an expert OBM!
3. Create your master plan
The audit that you just did is where you collected all the relevant info you’ll need to create your plan of action, and it should have outlined where the opportunities are for you to fill the gaps. Now it’s time to build out your master plan and set goals that will ensure your success!
It’s important to make sure you have enough accurate information to turn into quantifiable goals and a plan that you and your client’s team will execute together. Typically, you’ll set these goals with your client’s involvement so that the road ahead is clear and you’re both on the same page. The more clear your client and their team are on your purpose and goals, the easier it will be to work together and the more likely it is that you’ll stay aligned as the work gets done.
It’s also worth noting to always make sure that you’re keeping your skill set in mind. Be clear with your client on what it is you’re best at, and focus your goals around your strengths. Of course, it’s always good to expand your skill set. But here you should be playing to your strengths to ensure you can deliver and make that killer first impression.
4. Be clear and communicate
Consistently communicating with your client’s team and making sure they’re following procedures is a big part of your continued client onboarding process. Holding them accountable and making sure they’re doing things in the right way in the first instance is what will set you up for long term success.
Make sure the whole team is clear on the goals and objectives you’ve set. Educate them on what’s happening and what they are responsible for so that they are adequately prepared. Put systems in place so that they know how to do what’s required of them. This part of the process is all about getting everyone on the same page and equipping them well so that you can collectively move forward in the most efficient way. We like the sound of that!
5. Check-in after 30 days
This is where you and the business owner will sit down and talk some serious biz shiz. Scheduling this call is your opportunity to get feedback on everything that’s been happening in your first month.
This is the time to smooth out any issues, fix what isn’t working, and to gather info on what your client is loving. Essentially, you’re showing the client some love, letting them know again that you’re there to support them, and that you’re committed to getting them the results they want. Keeping this line of communication will also strengthen your relationship with the client.
Make sure to have any questions you might have ready prior to the call. Give the client a brief overview of what’s been happening and how you’ve been working towards the goals you set so far. Make it so that the client logs off of that call with a smile on their face and the knowing that you’re giving them value. Because hey, you’re the expert!
6. Refine your process
Once you’ve gone through those initial 90 days, it’s time to do a self-audit of what was working and what could be improved. Refining your process is the key to buttoning up your client onboarding process and ensuring your future clients have the best experience possible.
Do any recurring questions keep coming up with your clients? Is there an area that they seem to always get ‘stuck’ on? Could you streamline or systematize parts of your process to save you time and effort in the bigger picture? Have you gained new insights from your last onboarding experience that you want to implement moving forward? These kinds of questions all hold the potential to make your client onboarding process even BETTER!
As your biz grows, you’ll start to work with different types of clients and move on to different (and probably bigger) projects. So you may need to look again at refining your process when that happens. Are you an OBM or VA looking to take that next step towards working with high-end clients and make more of an impact in your clients business?
Now over to you: What steps are you taking to ensure your client onboarding process is effective? How do you keep your clients happy when onboarding? Share your tips in the comments!
Disclosure: This blog contains affiliate links. I only partner with websites and platforms that I use on a daily basis and provide real value to my business. No clicks for a quick buck at Sarah Noked OBM!
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