How Does Client Onboarding Work?

Client onboarding is a process that can help set the tone for a successful relationship moving forward. Learn how it works in this short post.
client onboarding in action x3

When a new client comes aboard, they need to be welcomed with open arms and shown the ropes. The onus is on you, as their new business partner, to set expectations early, and to WOW them from day one!

Client onboarding is a simple process that can help you do just that. By offering a simple, seamless, and informative client onboarding process, you can help your clients get up to speed, and set the tone for a successful and long-lasting relationship.

But what exactly is client onboarding and how does it work? Follow along as we explain just that so that you (and your client) can set sail on a glorious adventure together.

What Is Client Onboarding?

Client onboarding refers to the experience your clients have with your business during the brief period of time between when they choose to work with you and the time that you begin working with them.

Not unlike a first, second, and third date all wrapped into one, it’s during this brief period of time when your clients can get to know you, as well as for you to acquire the information you need to get started helping them.

Just like dating, client onboarding is also an opportunity for your business to set expectations early—in a simple, streamlined, and user-friendly way—to ensure a mutually-beneficial relationship.

Why Is Client Onboarding Important?

Client onboarding is important for many reasons. For one, it sets expectations (and boundaries) early, so that your clients can know what to expect from you (and when they’re asking too much). It can also help you streamline your sales process—facilitating a smooth transition from prospect to active client, and help you ‘wow’ your clients with a cohesive and seamless brand experience.

Last but not least, client onboarding can significantly improve your ability to satisfy and retain your clients. It’s no surprise that happy clients stick around longer. And a seamless onboarding experience is your opportunity to identify your clients’ needs and expectations from the start. By setting the stage early, you can take steps to ensure that you’re always meeting—and exceeding—their goals, guaranteeing they will want to stay with you longer.

Want to learn more about how onboarding can help your business? Check out our post Why Client Onboarding Matters? for more information.

How Client Onboarding Works In 4 Simple Stages

1. Get to Know Your Clients

If you don't know where you’re going, you’ll never know when you get there. The same concept holds true for managing client expectations. Setting expectations at the start of your client onboarding process can help ensure you know what your client expects from you (and vice-versa).

You can easily get to know your clients and anticipate their needs by using a system to document everything you might need to know about them at the start of your engagement. This should include their answers to questions regarding general expectations that they have for your business, what metrics they value for measuring success, and, even, ground rules for communicating, among other details.

2. Meet With Your Clients

You can further discuss expectations (and set boundaries) during a ‘kick-off call’—a formal meeting for you and your client to connect personally. Kickoff calls generally last between 10 and 30 minutes and are your opportunity to be clear about the expectations and obligations each member of their team has for your business. Likewise, they’re also a chance for you to follow up regarding any pertinent information you acquired through your questionnaire.

Kick off calls are also prime time to gather any information you or your team needs from your client to begin working with them effectively and efficiently. You can do this by asking the members of your team to think about what information they need to accomplish their respective goals for the client, and by including their questions and requests in your kickoff call agenda.

3. Follow up with Your Clients

With your kickoff call behind you, it’s time to document what was agreed upon, define your client’s metrics, set up your client’s dashboards, and follow up.

At this stage, it’s important to identify what metrics matter most to your client when tracking and measuring their progress. This can ensure that the metrics you track–and the platforms you use to track them–align with what your clients value. By defining your these things early on, you can ensure you’re always tracking the right things in the right ways, and communicating trends transparently–in ways your client understands.

In the same vein, you’ll also want to check in with your client to see if they have any questions, issues, or comments following your initial kickoff call. This is why promptly following up–sometime after your first meeting–can be especially helpful.

Pro tip: Seal the deal by following up with a custom-made “client welcome pack,” to reassure your client’s decision to work with you, and prove any other pertinent information they might need to get started.

4. Nurture The Client Relationship

Nurturing your client’s relationship with you is just as important as the initial consultation. You can ensure you’re consistently nurturing your client’s relationship by periodically checking in with them following your first meeting.

By keeping in touch with your clients, you can gain valuable feedback from them to tell if you’re meeting (or exceeding) their expectations, as well as have the opportunity to ask questions and address any issues they’ve encountered, before they become a bigger issue.

Optimize How You Onboard New Clients!

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We’ll expand on the aforementioned stages even further–providing you with a comprehensive game-plan for what to do and how to do it at every phase of your onboarding process. What’s more, we’ll provide suggestions and tips for making the most of your engagements–so you check the right boxes–every time–and save up to 40 hours a week in the process.

Check it out today to take your client onboarding process to the next level!

Business operations consultant Juliana Marulanda
Juliana Marulanda is a business operations expert, speaker, and the founder of ScaleTime. With over 20 years of experience across Wall Street, the non-profit sector, technology startups, and family-owned businesses, she now helps service-based businesses.