Getting it Right, Right Away

Without a clear onboarding process, you risk losing new business

Back Web Only Jan 29, 2016 By Kelly Azevedo

Sales and marketing can feel like a never ending marathon — as soon as you reach the finish line with one lead, there’s another sale to close. Even when all your hard work results in new sales, many businesses fumble when they pass the baton to engaging and welcoming the new client. The lack of a solid onboarding strategy can result in a rocky start to your relationship with clients, increased requests for refunds and decreased confidence in your business.

As a customer, it’s frustrating when, after getting dozens of emails and calls from a persistent salesperson who insisted that they would handle all your needs, the communication stops and it becomes impossible to get support after you’ve paid your bill.

Instead of mentally assigning a closed lead to the client column and moving on to new prospects, ensure that your team is taking the time to guide new clients through the process of working with your business, step by step.

If you haven’t yet designed a welcome experience for your service based clients, now is the time. Here are five things to include in your welcome process:

Gratitude: If you don’t say thank you early and often, your client is more likely to feel like a piggy bank than an appreciated client. While we’ve shared ideas for expressing your appreciation year round, the early days are critical to making the client feel warm and welcome.

Expectations: Some services are completed within 24 hours, some barely get started in two weeks. No matter the length of your service or how it’s performed, set the expectation early, detailing what the client needs to complete or request along the way.

Availability: When is your office open? How long will it take to get an answer to email? Does your office close for holidays? These are all common questions for a new client — ones they probably won’t ask until they need an answer ASAP. Share these details early on and then be consistent and there should be fewer concerns.

Contact: Knowing who to talk to throughout the experience is key. You’re going to spend a lot of time supporting the client; making sure they know who to contact about what will save everyone time and frustration.

Action: What does a new client need to do first, second and third? Are there regular actions that the client needs to take? This is a great time to explain how your service works and what’s required of the client. If you set the expectation that the client receives a weekly call, this is where you tell them how to schedule that call.

You might be thinking that all of this information is obvious, but for a new client it’s all foreign. When a client is onboarded properly, it removes a huge burden from your shoulders while instilling confidence in those your serve. Keep this end goal in mind when you’re building your onboarding system, as it can take some time as well as trial and error to get it perfect.

Here are some additional tips to keep in mind:

  • While it might be tempting to do this over the phone, email is better and serves as a resource later on.
  • Putting all this information in one email is a little overwhelming. Consider breaking it up into a sequence over a couple days.
  • Use this welcome process to introduce your team and how they’ll be helping the client.
  • You can create different onboarding processes for each service or program you offer, but just choose one to get started.
  • Get your team involved by asking them what questions new clients ask.
  • Automate it with a CRM that allows emails to drip out over time.
  • Don’t just set it and forget it. Create a reminder to review this information every six months to ensure it’s still accurate.

Guiding your clients through the process of working successfully with your company is an investment in the relationship and saves untold amount of time and energy. You’ll know that your system works when a new client expresses just how easy it seemed to get started.