Onboarding a client is one way to make a lasting impression. As much as you could, you would want to do this in a remarkable and professional way that would leave a mark on how well you treat your clients. The best way to do this is to create a tailored-fit experience that would make them feel welcomed, heard, and understood.
Onboarding is one of the most critical parts of any relationship, whether it's developing a new client or building a new partnership. Think of it this way: the more you can make a client feel like they're a part of something larger than themselves, even in the earliest stages of your working relationship, the more likely they are to trust you and continue to be involved in the project. So, when you onboard a client, it's important to remember that there's more at stake than just making sure they have all the tools they need; there's also the matter of how you treat them during that time and how they come away feeling about your service overall.
Here are some things to keep in mind when crafting an onboarding process that your clients will thank you for:
Create a professional portal
A professional portal is an online homepage for your company, often with links to information about the organization and its employees as well as tools for collaborating on projects. It's a way to manage how people think about your organization, and it can help you manage expectations on both sides of the relationship. Your clients will see that you're organized and responsive, and they'll have a place to go when they need to find something or get in touch with someone.
You can extend this by making a portal dedicated to your client, say an online workspace where they have access to your tasks and projects regarding their company. This can be through Notion, Asana, Trello, and other project management tools. Here, your client can have one place to go and will feel more involved with your workflow. You can also use this as a way for them to monitor progress and improve workflow by getting approvals and feedback in real time. Client relationship management (CRM) is a great way to automate the onboarding process. Hello Bonsai or Dubsado are user-friendly CRM platforms that can help you get started.
Have a timeline and checklist
When you're new to onboarding a client, it can be hard to know what steps you should take with them and when. You want to make sure they're comfortable with your company, but you don't want to overwhelm them with information. The key to this is having a timeline and a checklist.
The first thing you should do is give them a timeline. This will tell them how long they have to complete the onboarding process, and how many steps should be completed by each due date. It also lets them know how much time they have to devote to learning about you and your company, and you about theirs. If there are several different steps, you might want to set up a checklist for each one. This way, both you and your client will know what's been covered so far, what's left to discuss, and if anything was missed.
Set expectations and goals
It's important to make sure that everyone comes into the planning process with the same set of expectations from the start. It is perfectly normal for a client's goals and your own to diverge in some way, but it's important to understand how much room for collaboration you have for getting them where they want to be. You can do this in your kick-off call.
First, it is important to ask them questions and listen closely. Ask what their priorities are. The reality is that there are many clients out there who don't know how to communicate their vision effectively. And so, your job is not only to talk about what you can do for them but also to learn about them and ask questions until you understand what they need from you. Set a schedule for meetings, turnaround times for approval and feedback, as well as deadlines for deliverables.
Setting expectations and your target goals can then help you further craft a more specific plan and gear it towards a direction that will indeed help your clients.
Tailor a personalized experience for your clients
Make the experience as personalized as possible without it being too complicated. Ask each new customer what they're most interested in learning about, and then make sure you cover those topics first. If you think they're going to need help integrating your product into their existing infrastructure, give them some high-level support on that before showing them how things work. The point here is that every customer is different and taking the time to figure out what they actually want will pay off in the long run.
It's helpful to know what kind of support experience your clients want because it will help you create an environment that you want them to experience—and it should be one they will thank you for.
Onboarding a new client can be one of the most rewarding parts of what you are working on. You get to meet new people, learn about them and their businesses, and find out how you can help each other out. Still, it can also be one of the most intimidating parts of your job. You're putting yourself out there to try and make a good impression on all fronts—the work end, the relationship end, the business end—and it can be scary when you don't know how it's going to go.
To help with that, here is a sample checklist you might consider when onboarding a new client
- Welcome Email
- Onboarding questionnaire
- Compliance and payment
- Set up the project in your portal
- Kick-off meeting
- Send a welcome package
- Check-up call