After attracting and landing dream clients with your proven proposal template, you are ready to officially introduce them to your team and kick-off your working relationship. But now, a new challenge: client onboarding.
The key to a successful client-agency relationship is to make sure both parties are on the same page from the start. To kick that off, the agency must have a great client onboarding process to make the transition a smooth one.
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What is Client Onboarding?
Client onboarding (or customer onboarding) is the process of welcoming or introducing new clients to your company. It includes addressing any questions they may have, making sure they feel like they’ve made the right choice by coming to you for their needs, and helping you prepare to complete the work you agreed to in your scope of work plan.
Not having a good client onboarding process is one of the costliest mistakes you can make in your business. Conversely, there are several benefits to an effective client onboarding process:
- It makes your business seem more professional and organized when you have systems in place. In turn, this helps support your digital agency’s longevity.
- It keeps the clients happy. According to the Pareto principle, 80% of your business comes from 20% of your current clients. Clearly, keeping clients happy is a must, and starting off your relationship with new clients with a smooth onboarding process is a great way to keep them satisfied.
- Having happy clients reduces your turnover rate and helps you to get stellar testimonials. Furthermore, clients who are satisfied with your work will recommend you to relevant contacts in their network, helping you land even more new clients.
- Your efforts won’t be wasted. When you generate leads for new business, you’re investing in marketing efforts, meeting with prospects, and developing the relationship. That takes a lot of time and effort from your team. When the relationship does not last long, your initial acquisition costs go to waste.
By following the simple 5 steps below, you can make sure your client onboarding process is stress-free, and turn your new clients into long-term customers.
Step 1: Set Expectations
Before any “real” work begins, it’s best to define expectations. Discuss what you both require in terms of deadlines, processes, and communication. For example, can the client expect a response to their questions immediately, or should they wait until your weekly meetings, if you have them? Assumptions made on each end can lead to conflict and may result in scope creep.
Step 2: Gather Necessary Information From Your New Clients
One of the most important steps to an effective client onboarding process is gathering all of the necessary information to fully assess what the client needs. Each client is different, so you’ll have to adjust as necessary, but the checklist below is a great starting point.
You don’t want to realize you forgot to ask for their email lists two months into the project! To make sure you come off as professional and prepared, request the following information up front:
Step 3: Brief the Team
After you have all the information you need, it’s time to assign them to the best member(s) of your team to the project. Your social media manager, for example, can assist with or manage the strategic plan for their social accounts. A digital analytics freelancer on your team can do necessary keyword research.
Give relevant team members information on the client so they can learn more about them, then have an internal client orientation meeting to make sure that everyone has a clear understanding of what is expected of them.
By bringing them in at this point, your team members will have a solid idea of exactly what needs to get done once you begin implementing the plan.
As a final note during this stage: Stress the importance of keeping everything documented from the beginning. That way if you need to pass the work from one freelancer to another, or if the client asks to see an old report, you have everything easily accessible.
Step 4: Complete Research
During the proposal stage, you should outline the work you’re going to do, but the beginning of the project is when you do the actual research. Add concrete details to the plan; for example, if you decided to create a Twitter account for your new client, develop a strategy for that account through keyword research and competitor research.
Once you’ve finished your research and have added specific details to your plan, report back to your new clients during an initial check-in meeting. Though you may not go over every detail, such as showing them the specific keywords you plan to use, it’s important to present them with documents that show you’ve done your research and that the strategy is backed by data.
Step 5: Check-In with Your New Clients
After research is completed, schedule a call with your assigned point person at the company to show them your research, get feedback on the updated plan, and discuss next steps. This is a great time to introduce them to key team members from your company who will be working with them.
From there, schedule regular check-in meetings going forward depending on need and budget. Check-in with how everything is going on their end and if they’re satisfied (or not!) with the relationship, whether it’s through monthly phone calls, weekly emails, or some other method you decide works best for you.
Scale Your Agency with an Effective Client Onboarding Process
Following a client onboarding process may seem tiresome, but having one in place ensures success from the beginning and makes onboarding multiple new clients at once a breeze.
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