What do you do now? Dive right in or make sure that you have all the necessary information in place to start working effectively from day one?
The onboarding period is your new client's first experience of working with you. It's crucial to get the process right and to make it as easy for them as possible to start that working relationship.
Here are a few dos and don'ts for creating that all-important client onboarding process.
Don’t wing it. This is how things get missed. Follow your procedures each and every time a new client comes on board. This will ensure that the process is as stress-free as possible for both of you.
Do use templates. There will be a number of documents you need to send out when you onboard a client. These will be slightly different for each business but may include terms and conditions, a summary of services provided, a client information form, and a welcome pack. If you have an easily customisable template for each client your process will be much quicker and smoother. File your client onboarding documents in the same place as your process so they are easily accessible.
Do use folders and trackers. Set up a folder, Airtable base, Trello card, or the equivalent in whatever system you use to store all the client-related documents and help you to keep track of where you are in the onboarding process. Keeping a tracker will help you to stay on top of what's been sent out, what the client has returned and makes the whole process much more efficient.
Don't assume you'll remember what's gone out and been returned. Especially if you are onboarding more than one client at a time. You won't keep all the information in your head and it will result in the process dragging out. A flabby onboarding period is stressful for both you and your client and doesn't give a good first impression.
Don't send information piecemeal. We're all busy people and it can be difficult to find the time to read all our emails. The last thing we want to do is have to search back through old messages to find the ones we need. It's much easier for your client to have all the information in one place.
Do schedule an introductory review as part of the onboarding process, about 6-8 weeks after you start working together. New clients can be nervous about starting with a new provider and it will reassure them to know that there's an opportunity to give and get feedback early in the working relationship.
Do ask for a testimonial. Not immediately of course, but include it as part of your written process. Draft an email and set yourself a reminder to send it after 3-4 months of working with the client. Most of us feel awkward asking for feedback but if the email is already written and you get into the habit of doing it for each new client it will soon become business as usual.