Onboarding a New Client? 6 Things to Keep In Mind

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What is it about that onboarding experience with a new client? It’s so exciting, right? Onboarding a new client means new opportunities for earning more revenue and a chance to build a relationship. But, like with all things in business, you have to go about it the right way.

In this post, we’re sharing how to onboard a new client successfully with six critical things to keep in mind as you do it.

Let’s get into it!

What Client Onboarding Is (and what it isn’t)

Client onboarding is the process of welcoming and integrating a new client into a business or organization. It usually involves a series of steps that will not only welcome them onboard, but will also set them up for the best chances of success.

What it isn’t: Onboarding a new client isn’t the time to be overly flashy and wordy. You’ve already convinced them to work with you. Now it’s time to start dazzling them with how you can actually help them achieve their goals.

Why client onboarding is important

A well planned client onboarding experiencing is important for several reasons including:

  • It gives you the opportunity to establish trust
  • You can set clear expectations
  • You can also establish your communication channels
  • It gives you the opportunity to share resources, and
  • It sets the tone for a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with your client

How to Onboard a New Client

There are several steps for onboarding a new client. But, for the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on the main six steps. These include:

  • Pre-Onboarding Preparation: This usually involves gathering information about your client, reviewing their needs and goals, and ensuring that all necessary resources and staff are in place for a smooth experience.
  • Initial Meeting: This is your opportunity to introduce yourself and your business, and gather more information about the client's needs and goals. Think of it like a first date to see if you’re a match or if you need to swipe left!
  • Documentation and Paperwork: The next step after meeting your client is to collect relevant documents and paperwork. This could include signed contracts, risk assessments, legal paperwork, and/or non disclosure agreements.
  • Training and Education: Most people are well versed in their own businesses, but not in the products and services they are purchasing. In this step, you’ll provide your new client with all the information they need about working with your product/service, and how to best set themselves up for success.
  • Communication and Follow-Up: While we’re listing this as “step 5,” the reality is you should be communicating and following up with support and help as needed. From check-ins to progress updates, answering questions to addressing concerns – communication is key!
  • Final Review and Next Steps: Home stretch! After you have successfully onboarded the client, you will review the entire process and make sure nothing was missed. Have the client’s needs been met? What are the next steps for ongoing support and engagement?
  • Now that you have a brief overview of the six steps to keep in mind for how to onboard a new client, let’s break them down further to make your process the best and smoothest it can be!

    Step 1: Pre-Onboarding Preparation

    Preparing for onboarding a new client is perhaps the most important step in the entire process. It’s the time to gather pertinent data, set expectations, and make sure that you’re ready to not only onboard the client, but to deliver on any and all promises you make.

    Gathering necessary information from the client

    Here are some of the key pieces of information that you should gather from the client during the pre-onboarding preparation phase:

  • Project goals and objectives: Understanding the client's goals and objectives is critical for developing a successful project plan. Ask the client to provide a clear description of their desired outcome and any specific metrics they are looking to achieve.
  • Project timeline: Determine the client's desired timeline for the project and any important deadlines that must be met.
  • Stakeholders: Identify all the key stakeholders involved in the project, including decision-makers, team members, and other relevant parties.
  • Communication preferences: Determine the client's preferred methods of communication and the frequency of communication they expect throughout the project.
  • Relevant documentation: Request any relevant documentation or materials from the client that can help you better understand their needs and goals for the project.
  • Budget and resources: Understand the client's budget and any resources they have available for the project, including personnel and technology resources.
  • Setting expectations for the onboarding process

    It’s important to set clear expectations and communicate what you can deliver to the client.

    Some of the key elements to include when setting expectations for the onboarding process may include:

    • Timeline: A clear timeline for the onboarding process can help to manage the client's expectations and ensure that all necessary steps are completed in a timely manner.
    • Communication: Clearly communicating the channels and frequency of communication during the onboarding process helps the client feel supported and informed throughout the process.
    • Requirements: Outlining any documentation, paperwork, or other requirements that the client will need to provide during the onboarding process can help to prevent delays or issues down the line.
    • Support: It’s important to clearly communicate the resources and support that will be provided to the client during the onboarding process. This can help to build trust and establish a positive relationship from the outset.

    Preparing the necessary materials and resources for onboarding

    Here are some of the key materials and resources that should be prepared in advance:

  • Welcome packet: A welcome packet should be created that introduces the client to your organization and provides a clear overview of the onboarding process. This packet should include important contact information, key project timelines and milestones, and any relevant forms or documentation that will be needed throughout the project.
  • Onboarding checklist: An onboarding checklist should be created that outlines all of the steps and tasks that will be required during the onboarding process. This checklist should be tailored to the specific needs of the client and project.
  • Training materials: If the client will be using new software or technology as part of the project, training materials should be created in advance. This may include instructional videos, user manuals, and other documentation that will help the client become proficient in using the new technology.
  • Communication plan: A communication plan should be developed that outlines the frequency, methods, and protocols for communication between you and the client. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and that any potential communication challenges are addressed in advance.
  • Project plan: A project plan should be created that outlines the overall scope of the project, key milestones and deadlines, and the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders. This will ensure that everyone involved in the project has a clear understanding of what is expected of them and when.
  • Step 2: Initial Meeting

    initial-meeting

    You’ve done all the groundwork, and now it’s time to meet with the client.

    At this juncture, you’ll introduce your team and their roles, and how these team members will be involved in helping the client.

    You’ll share things like their:

    • Names and titles
    • Responsibilities and areas of expertise
    • Preferred communication channels, and
    • Availability

    During your initial meeting you’ll also have a discussion of the client’s goals and needs. A few things you should discuss include are:

    • Project goals and timelines
    • Pain points to overcome
    • The scope and budget for the project you’re onboarding them for
    • Risks or challenges that could come up throughout the process

    As you discuss the timeline, you’ll need to share your entire overview of how you will work together. You’ll also discuss key milestones and when they can be achieved as well as deliverables that will be produced during the onboarding process.

    For example, will the client receive a project plan? What about training materials? The more information you can provide, the easier it will be for them to fully commit for this project and future projects.

    Step 3: Documentation and Paperwork

    You might be wondering what kind of documentation and paperwork you will need in the onboarding process.

    Some of the key elements to include when collecting necessary documentation and paperwork may include:

    • Identification documents: Collecting copies of the client's identification documents, such as a driver's license or passport, can help to verify their identity and prevent fraud.
    • Account setup forms: Collecting account setup forms and other required documentation can help to establish the client's account and ensure that they have access to the products or services being offered.
    • Legal and compliance requirements: Collecting any necessary legal and compliance documentation, such as signed contracts, disclosures, or waivers, can help to ensure that the onboarding process is conducted in compliance with relevant laws and regulations.
    • Record-keeping: Ensuring that all documentation and paperwork is properly recorded and stored can help to ensure that there is a clear record of the onboarding process, which can be used for future reference or in the event of an audit or investigation.

    In this step, you’ll also sign necessary forms and contracts.

    Pro tip: Don’t begin anything until it’s all in writing!

    Be sure your paperwork includes clear and concise language, accurate information (i.e. names and titles), and legal and regulatory compliance clauses where applicable. It’s also important that paperwork is completed in a timely fashion so you can begin work on your projects.

    Step 4: Training and Education

    During the Training and Education phase of onboarding a new client, it's important to provide an introduction to the product or service being provided. This helps the client understand what the product or service does, how it works, and how it can benefit their business.

    Here are some key points to cover when introducing the product or service:

    Overview of the product or service: Provide a high-level overview of the product or service, including its main features and benefits.How it works: Explain how the product or service works, including any key processes or functions.Key terminology: Define any key terminology or technical terms that the client may not be familiar with.Use cases: Provide examples of how the product or service can be used in real-world scenarios, to help the client understand its potential value.Key benefits: Highlight the key benefits of the product or service, including any ways it can save the client time, money, or resources.Demonstration: Provide a demonstration of the product or service, showing the client how it works in action.

    Step 5: Communication and Follow-Up

    communiation-followup

    During the Communication and Follow-Up phase of client onboarding, it's important to establish communication channels for ongoing support. This ensures that the client has access to the support they need to use the product or service effectively and to address any issues that may arise.

    Here are some key points to cover when establishing communication channels for ongoing support:

  • Preferred channels: Determine the client's preferred channels for communication, such as email, phone, or chat.
  • Availability: Establish when support will be available, such as during business hours or 24/7.
  • Response time: Set expectations for response time, such as within 24 hours for non-urgent issues or immediately for urgent issues.
  • Escalation process: Establish an escalation process for more complex or urgent issues, including who to contact and how to escalate the issue.
  • Training materials: Provide any training materials or resources that the client may need to address common issues or questions.
  • Follow-up: Follow up with the client after support interactions to ensure that their issue has been resolved satisfactorily.
  • By establishing communication channels for ongoing support, you can help the client feel supported and empowered to use the product or service effectively. This can help to build a positive and long-lasting relationship with the client, as they will appreciate your commitment to their success and your responsiveness to their needs. Additionally, it can help to minimize the impact of any issues or challenges that may arise, ensuring that the client is able to get back to business as quickly as possible.

    Step 6: Final Review and Next Steps

    In the Final Review and Next Steps phase of client onboarding, evaluation of the onboarding process and client satisfaction is an important step. This involves gathering feedback from the client about their experience during the onboarding process and using that feedback to improve future client onboarding processes.

    Evaluation of the onboarding process and client satisfaction is important because it can help businesses and organizations to identify areas for improvement and ensure that the client feels valued and supported throughout the process. It can also help to strengthen the relationship between the business or organization and the client by demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement and client satisfaction.

    Some of the key elements to include when evaluating the onboarding process and client satisfaction may include:

    • Feedback gathering: Gathering feedback from the client about their experience during the onboarding process, such as through surveys or interviews, can help to identify areas for improvement and ensure that the client feels heard and valued.
    • Analysis of feedback: Analyzing the feedback received from the client can help businesses and organizations to identify common themes or areas for improvement.
    • Action plan: Creating an action plan based on the feedback received can help businesses and organizations to address areas for improvement and implement changes to the onboarding process.
    • Communication with the client: Communicating with the client about the feedback received and any changes that will be made to the onboarding process can help to demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement and client satisfaction.

    Overall, evaluation of the onboarding process and client satisfaction is a critical step in the client onboarding process. By gathering feedback, analyzing it, and taking action to address areas for improvement, businesses and organizations can demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement and client satisfaction, which can ultimately lead to stronger and more productive partnerships with clients.

    Final Thoughts on the Importance of Client Onboarding

    In today's competitive business landscape, client onboarding is more important than ever before. A well-executed onboarding process can help you set the tone for a positive, productive relationship with your clients from the very beginning. Here are some final thoughts on the importance of client onboarding:

  • It sets the tone for the client relationship: Client onboarding is your opportunity to establish trust, build rapport, and demonstrate your commitment to the client's success. By providing a smooth, seamless onboarding experience, you can set the tone for a positive, productive relationship with your clients from day one.
  • It helps to ensure client success: A well-executed onboarding process can help to ensure that the client has the resources, support, and knowledge they need to be successful with your product or service. This can help to minimize frustration, maximize productivity, and ultimately lead to a more satisfied, loyal client base.
  • It can lead to increased retention and revenue: By providing a positive onboarding experience, you can increase client satisfaction and loyalty, which can lead to increased retention and revenue over time. Happy clients are more likely to refer new business to you and to renew their contracts year after year.
  • It can differentiate you from the competition: In a crowded marketplace, a great onboarding experience can help you stand out from the competition. By providing a superior onboarding experience, you can demonstrate your commitment to your clients' success and differentiate yourself from other providers in your industry.In summary, client onboarding is a critical component of any successful client relationship. By investing the time and resources to create a great onboarding experience, you can set the stage for a long, productive, and mutually beneficial relationship with your clients.
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