Successful Client Onboarding: 7 Steps to Success
Posted on 24th November 2021 at 13:11
Just like new employees, new clients are also 3x more likely to rescind during the first 90 days of working with you, if they aren’t happy with the services they are receiving. What this means is that a solid client onboarding process is absolutely essential for retention. Happier clients mean less chance of new clients turning and running, so you need to do everything you can to make that lasting first impression.
Whether you’re an accounting practice, small business owner or any other client-focused business, these are the 7 key steps to onboarding your clients successfully.
We all want every new client that comes on board with us to stick with us, we don't want to develop a reputation of clients leaving us within the first 60-90days dissastisfied with the services they have received. We need to ensure that they don't feel neglected or forgotten about...to negate this, it is essential to set up a successful onboarding process.
Step 1: The Contract
Do not start any work before you have a signed contract/engagement letter. This is the legally binding agreement between both parties that states the deliverables, the terms and conditions, and the payment method (time-based or fixed fee). If the project is a fixed fee, you may need to receive a deposit of 50% of the entire fee before beginning work.
Step 2: The Questionnaire
You should include a client questionnaire in your onboarding process as this will save you A LOT of time chasing for information. For example, when new clients come to our accountancy practice, we always require certain documents/info, Photo ID of Directors and carry out an AML (Anti Money Laundering) Background check of the directors, before we are able to begin any work for them.
Think of what you most commonly need from your new clients and include these questions in your questionnaire. That way, you can get the information you need from them without having to chase and waste time which delays the process.
Tip: Ask for business information, who will be the main point of contact, what success means to them (main KPIs), any logins and passwords you need and documents/reports/accounts etc.
Step 3: The Plan
Before kicking off the project, take some time to plan the work. Which team is best to take on the project? Who will be the lead contact (i.e. who has expertise or commonalities that will help build a strong working relationship with them)? Communication and coordination is imperative to assign a new client to the most appropriate team/colleague, and to give the client the best possible service that you have to offer.
Once you’ve decided this, debrief the team on what the project is, what would make it a success to the client and the timeline for delivery. It’s also really important to share all communication with everyone involved before beginning as you don’t want the client getting bothered from repeated questions being asked. (You can do this within your workflow software).
Step 4: The Meeting
It’s always a nice touch to meet with the client again before kicking off the project. Not only does it give them confidence and peace of mind that everything is moving forward, but it also gives you a chance to set expectations and build excitement about the work.
Whether it’s face to face or on a video call, take the time to take the client through the project plan, introduce them to the team and main point of contact, whom will be the one predominately working on their work, and discuss the next steps. You’ll see that by doing this, that you build major trust and rapport with your clients from the get-go.
Step 5: The Welcome Pack
Following your meeting, you should provide your new client with some sort of welcome pack. What would be most valuable to them? How can you educate your client and reinforce their decision to work with you?
The best welcome packs include:
A copy of the contract
A business ‘cheat sheet’ (e.g. your business hours, address, point of contact information, FAQs etc)
Any pre-work (maybe you have a valuable blog or video that they should read/watch)
Case studies (remind them of your value with success stories from similar companies)
Welcome video/note (personalise a message to say welcome and how excited you are to be working with them)
Questionnaire/Document to be filled and completed with the clients key company info
A gift (consider sending something in the post such as a gift card or a branded notebook or mug).
Step 6: The Check-in
Remember, it’s the first 90 days that clients are most likely to contemplate whether to stick with you or reconsider working with you, so don’t just assign a team to their work and then forget about them. For every new client, aim to check in with them after their first month with you. First, check that the onboarding process is running smoothly and that work is being carried out on schedule. Then, call them up and see how they are and if they need anything else. If they would prefer there to be more communication or for things to happen differently, now is the time to make them happy.
Step 7: The Review
A perfect onboarding process is refined over and over again until it can be repeated successfully with every new client you have, and the process flows smoothly without having to constantly chase or check whether steps have been followed and completed. So, for every onboarding process, once you reach the 90 days, review it. How did it go? Was there effective communication between both parties? Do you need to add or tweak any questions on the questionnaire? Did the client feel like a priority or were there not enough touchpoints? How can you improve this next time?
Always review the process yourself first, with your team; and then meet with your client. Two perspectives are always better than one. Plus, listening to their opinion and improving will only help to strengthen your relationship moving forward.
Published by Callum Williams - Business Administrator and Marketer
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Tagged as: accountants for small businesses, Accountants for trades, Accountants in Farnborough, Accountants in Hampshire, Accounting for builders, Accounting for electricians, Accounting for Plumbers, Accounting specialist in Farnborough, Business blog, Check-in, Client Onboarding, Hampshire Accountants, Success, Welcome Pack
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