SOP - Client Onboarding Process

By Eva
January 6, 2022
SOP - Client Onboarding Process

Do you remember the first time you went for a job interview?

The nervousness of uncertainty was real,

  • “Will my interviewer find me a right fit for the position?”

  • “How to make my best first impression?”

  • “Would I be able to communicate properly?”

Well, the client onboarding process isn't any different. You are nervous if you would be able to adjust to their working style, and your client might be anxious if they made the right decision choosing you.

Client onboarding is like testing the water; Will you sink or swim?

To make sure things turn in your favor, you need to think ahead and plan ways to prove your worth to your clients.

We'll explain how you can decrease customer attrition and make the most out of the onboarding process.

What Is the Client Onboarding Process?

Did you know your client is three times more likely to churn in the first 90 days? So because you earned a new client, it doesn't mean they'll contribute to your business growth.

Client onboarding is your chance to ensure they do.

The process intends to establish a long-term and beneficial relationship between the client and the company, and it involves everything that happens after you're done with lead generation.

It would be wrong to say that companies overlook the importance of the client onboarding process, but they sure underutilize it.

Data shows that 63% (nearly two-thirds) of customers say that onboarding - and the support they achieve post-sale - determines whether or not they'll decide to proceed further. 

Perhaps this explains the importance of an effective client onboarding process.

The client onboarding process is critical in ensuring long-term success with new clients. It goes beyond just acquiring a new client but instead focuses on establishing a relationship that benefits both the client and the company. Unfortunately, many companies fail to recognize the significance of this process, resulting in high customer attrition rates.

In short, the client onboarding process is crucial to the success of any business. It is the perfect opportunity to create a positive first impression, establish trust, and prove your worth to your clients.

Importance of Client Onboarding

1-ashim-d-silva-pGcqw1ARGyg-unsplash.pngPhoto by Ashim D'Silva on Unsplash

If you're willing to work efficiently with your new clients, a solid onboarding process will add value to your company, reduce churn, and make your clients happier.

The onboarding process gives you a chance to understand your clients better. Later, you can customize customer onboarding templates to their unique needs.

Below, we'll discuss the importance of the client onboarding process. 

1. Preventing Churn

As mentioned earlier, your client is at risk of churning within the first 90 days; failing to provide a seamless onboarding experience could result in them leaving.

You should focus on offering them value and proving your worth that makes them feel they made the right choice choosing your firm.

But what exactly does an efficient onboarding process involve to prevent churn? Here are some things to practice.

  • No two clients are the same, so if you think the same process will work for all, you are wrong! Make sure you customize customer onboarding templates that cater to their unique needs.

  • You need to identify their pain and offer them solutions. Not only you but your team members should be clear about customers' pain points and convey to them how your service or product will solve their problems.

  • Do not forget to gauge their goals and expectations concerning a project. Then, discuss how you'll work to make them achievable.

  • Collecting details from the client is another important way to prevent attrition. Your team should also be aware of customers' requirements regarding the project.

2. Setting Expectations and Building Better Relationship

Your customer should realize that they did the right thing by choosing you for the project. You can prove your worth by letting them know what you can do for them, when, and how.

For that purpose, you need to know their expectations, and you can do so by getting information from them; what they need, how, and when?

Ask yourself:

  • What information do you need from them?

  • Will it take long for them to collect the information you require?

  • Whom will you talk to in the client's company?

Now, what if your customer has feedback for your services? Make sure you prepare yourself for questions like:

  • If anything goes wrong, what complaint procedure should your client follow?

  • Do you offer revisions? If so, how many?

  • When can you submit the change requests?

By setting expectations through the onboarding process, you get a chance to gain their trust and build long-term relationships with them.

3. Understanding their Needs

You may explain to your clients how your company operates and what you need to do the job at your best capacity, but are you well-aware of their needs?

The process gives you a chance to understand their unique needs and know what they desire to achieve. You can ask them about:

  • Their goals and objectives

  • What they expect from your company regarding a particular project

  • Where they see themselves in the next five years

Whatever information you collect from your client is valuable - it helps you shape your offer per client preferences. Later, you can tailor your services specifically to their needs.

4. Growing Your Business

According to the Harvard Business Review, “84% of B2B buyers are now starting the purchasing process with a referral, and peer recommendations are influencing more than 90% of all B2B buying decisions.”

If we reflect, this stat says a lot about how your happy customers can help you grow your business and make more revenue.

But how can you make your clients happy? By conducting an exemplary onboarding process, of course. It allows you to understand their needs and convey your approach to making their goals actionable.

If you are unsure what a successful onboarding process looks like, we have you covered! Below, we'll discuss the nitty-gritty details of an effective client onboarding process.

Tips for a Successful Client Onboarding Process

2-gerrie-van-der-walt-uOc3ldMSAiY-unsplash.pngPhoto by Gerrie van der Walt on Unsplash

Did you know 90% of customers feel that the companies can do better when onboarding new customers?

Think of onboarding as an opportunity to not only earn loyal customers but a way to build your brand image. Happy clients will recommend your services/products to peers, contributing to your business growth.

Below, we've outlined six tips to make your onboarding process a successful one.

1. Welcome Email

Don't leave your clients in the dark; a welcome email is a great way to create your first impression with the new client. When you are welcoming, your customer feels confident in choosing your company.

Besides, you have a chance of getting work sooner by giving the introduction right away.

Let them know how excited you are that they'll be working with you and your team. Make sure you provide them with relevant information, contact details, company policies, and do not forget to introduce your team members.

Besides, your welcome email should always indicate the next steps because your client wants to know them, of course.

Also, when you share your contact details, let them know that customer support is available 24/7 to answer any questions they may have. Further, keep the following practices in check when compiling a welcome email.

  • Hold back any information that isn't required at this stage. Keep your welcome email direct and straightforward.

  • Begin by appreciating them for signing up.

  • Share the resources that'll increase engagement, like relevant blog content or videos.

  • State your perspective, mission, objectives, and the outcomes the client can expect.

2. Customize the Experience

One size doesn't fit all, and the same goes for your clients. One key factor contributing to customer success is personalizing your product and service for them.

If you approach each customer in a similar manner, they'll likely smell it, and it may be a massive turn-off for them.

Besides, the same approach won't work either. So, it's best to practice a people-focused approach as a good business practice; otherwise, you might end up losing your customer any time soon.

Here are a few tips for personalizing the onboarding experience for your customers.

  • If they are comfortable addressing their needs out to dinner, make sure you arrange one for them. Not all customers prefer holding the first meeting in your office.

  • Acknowledge their fears and get to know about their concerns.

  • Create a personalized questionnaire. You can ask questions like:

    • Did you work with a similar company before?

    • How has been your experience with the previous companies?

    • What were the shortcomings of your project in the past?

    • What do you think can make this project successful?

    • Bonus: Ask them about referrals at the end of the questionnaire.

  • You can also standardize the process with a customer onboarding template and welcome notes.

  • As a final step, revisit your clients' concerns and establish a plan for addressing them.

Note that personalized communication doesn't indicate it has to be strictly manual. You can customize the experience through automation as well. This, again, can be personalized: Does your client prefer the former or the latter method?

3. Have a Kickoff Call

Because your client has the contract in hand doesn't mean they're on board. But you can ensure it by conducting a kickoff call.

It's an official meeting of all the members working together on a project. You need to create an agenda including the introduction, statements, and mission of your company regarding clients' projects.

This is your chance to build trust and offer maximum support to your customer, ensuring they get their needs fulfilled through a practical approach.

While the meeting can be held in person, most people prefer online meetings after the pandemic outbreak. So, if you schedule an online appointment, you need to keep a few things in mind.

One thing you shouldn't worry about is the online meeting tools; thankfully, you'll find plenty of collaboration tools for an effective meeting. But online sessions can have challenges if not held properly. Here are a few things to remember.

  • You can reduce the meeting time by 80% by adhering to a structured plan. Do not go live without knowing what exactly you have to do; you'll probably mess up!

  • The average meeting time is 31-60 minutes. Well, that does not indicate you cannot conduct a longer one; a short, direct, and impactful communication is still far better than beating around the bush in a long call.

  • Keep the experience customized; ask your customer what time works for them.

  • Get to know about their business objectives, and do not forget to ask about requirement creep; what happens if it occurs?

  • Follow up with the next steps to take and close off with the final Q&A.

4. Get Your Team On Board

Yes, you might be the company's CEO or the project leader, but perhaps you won't be working on your client project alone.

Know that your team is an integral part of your company and contributes to your business growth. You should value their knowledge when you create your plans; a mentor puts it, “Get their fingerprints on it.”

Make sure you get your team on board to help them understand the client's needs. You may have a team of 4, 5, or more members, and perhaps you do not have to get them all in a single meeting.

The team members that'll be explicitly assisting your client should be a part of the meeting and the whole onboarding process. To ensure maximum success, you can specify roles for each member.

Your team should understand what you expect from them and when. Here are a few tips to ensure that your team's efforts bear fruit.

  • Before you meet your client, hold a brainstorming session with everyone that'll be a part of the client's project.

  • Ask each team member for ideas to help achieve the project's goals.

  • Make sure you organize and plan your conversation before meeting the client. Your vision regarding the project should align with your team members - or it can be the other way round - otherwise, it'll create confusion during the meeting.


5. Get Feedback

Nothing is more helpful than constructive feedback. So, once the communication is over, allow your client to provide you with feedback. For instance, you might have messed up addressing a question and skipped a particular detail that they wanted to know.

You can ask them questions like, “Do you think the communication was effective?” “Is there something we could have done better?” “Did I miss out on something important?” “Do our goals align with your expectations?”

Feedback helps you in two ways: you get to learn what your client wants and enables you to improve your business goals accordingly.

6. Follow Up

The onboarding process is not over after holding a meeting with your client. Make sure you follow up with an email or a phone call. Ask them if they are satisfied with what you have offered so far, whether they're experiencing problems, and if they have any questions.

If they have concerns and questions, it's best to address and resolve them immediately. However, note that you shouldn't follow up after a couple of minutes. Instead, get in touch with them after a week.

This will give them enough time to calculate concerns and what you can do to improve their experience with you.

Digital Client Onboarding Checklist

3-suhyeon-choi-tTfDMaRq-FE-unsplash.pngPhoto by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

The pandemic forced the world to turn online.

There was a shift to a more digital world from shopping to onboarding.

Remote onboarding involves using online tools to get familiar and comfortable with your customers. With this checklist the onboarding goes well and smoothly:

  1. Welcome email

  2. Onboarding meeting

  3. Product setup

  4. Interactive walk-through

  5. Q&A session

  6. Routine check-ins

Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Make sure you get them on a video call, as 69% of customers prefer to learn about a product or service through a short video.

  • Use a blend of technological tools and human methods to protect your onboarding from cyber attacks.

  • Optimize your onboarding for mobile users.

  • Test a few online tools with your team to ensure which one works best for you. 

Final Words

Following the best onboarding practices will help you gain your client's trust and build relationships with them - a critical foundation that'll benefit your business in the long run.

However, note that the best client onboarding process isn't limited to practices discussed in the guide.

The goal is to offer value to your customer and increase revenue. So, if you have your unique ideas, you can blend them in to make the onboarding process even more effective.

Happy onboarding!

Cover Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash