What is Client Onboarding?
Client onboarding is the process of launching a new project and client relationship. It is one of the most important functions for your company as it sets the tone for the customer journey, not only directly impacting the current client experience but also the future relationship as well. Because this will, in turn, affect future company growth and profitability, proper onboarding is key to your success.
There is important information to be gleaned during onboarding that can affect not only the customer in question but in some cases your entire business. People don’t want to do business with companies whose experience leaves a “bad taste in their mouth”. A strong onboarding process helps you uncover issues before they become insurmountable problems.
Then, there are “game-changers that can disrupt an entire industry, such as a competitor entering the fray with a new product, service or a completely different way of envisioning delivery. Game changers can be something as mundane as a new way to book a place to stay (Airbnb) summon a car (Uber), or send a payment easier and quicker (Square). Vigilant attention to your onboarding process as well as the entire customer journey will make sure your business is ready to adapt.
Evaluating Your Onboarding Process
A good rule of thumb is to review your company’s client onboarding processes annually, and ask yourself… Is there a way to improve?
- Be ready to factor in the following: Talk to your client-facing employees — they are closer to the customer and are the first to hear about issues and concerns.
- Verify that all agreements, contracts, and associated collateral are current and meet regulatory compliance.
- Be sure that all policies and procedures are consistent so that upper management doesn’t leave front-line employees in the awkward position of being unsure how to handle the client relationship.
- When possible, seek feedback from current, former, and clients opting not to use your services.
- Shop your competition to see what they are doing, both good and bad.
- Familiarize yourself with current trends in your industry/space.
Involve Your Team in Planning
Sit down with your management team and discuss different client experiences they have had, in or outside your industry. This should include experiences they liked as well as those they didn’t. What can you take from those experiences to improve the journey for your own clients? Taking the time now to make sure your onboarding is the best it can be can make the difference between gaining a new client or losing one.
Plot Out Your Client Onboarding and Fulfillment
The outline below is a great place to start when plotting your client onboarding and servicing processes. Use these steps to make sure your client and your organization are in line when it comes to ordering and purchasing products and services both now and in the future. Document each step thoroughly to empower your team members to do their best
During the onboarding process, make sure your team is ready to:
- Make the client feel welcome
- Introduce all of the stakeholders (Even virtually)
- Address all client questions and concerns and verify all contracts and agreements
- Cross-sell products and services when and where appropriate. Timing is everything.
- Provide the client at least two points of contact within each department they will interact with.
- Properly set up client billing so that the correct person will receive your invoices (and perhaps at different offices) to ensure processing as easily and quickly as possible.
- Follow up with the client in a timely way and at appropriate intervals.
For more information, check out our article on “Improving the Client Experience.”