What Is Client Onboarding? A Guide to Welcoming New Clients [Examples]

what is client onboarding

YESSSS you got a new client *dances non-stop*

But don’t celebrate so much… Have you thought about client onboarding?

Yes, dear friend, the story doesn’t end when the client finishes signing the dotted line.

It is important that they feel welcome and empowered to work with you. This can be achieved by creating and delivering an effective client onboarding process for each of your new customers.

What is Client Onboarding?

Client onboarding is the process of welcoming new clients into your business. It involves providing them with the necessary resources and information that they will need in order to work successfully with you.

The aim is to bring your clients up to date with everything that is happening within the company.

Onboarding also aims to inform your new clients about the next steps of the process.

One of the biggest mistakes is assuming that clients acquire your structure and services already. Beware, that can cause them to become frustrated and run away.

It’s important to be attentive to their questions and concerns, and make sure they really understand your service.

There’s nothing better than starting a relationship off on the right foot, right? As part of your client onboarding strategy, you need to create a positive first impression.

Only then will you get the start of a potentially long and fruitful relationship between you and your new clients.

What Are the Aims of a Client Onboarding Process?

The end goal of any client onboarding process is to improve the productivity and success of the project for you, your clients, and your customers. To achieve this, your client needs to feel comfortable in knowing that they’ve made a good decision choosing to work with you over any of your competitors.

However, there are several key aims of an effective onboarding process and client onboarding experience, including the following.

  • To welcome the clients to your company and your services, and show them you are a good client service provider
  • To provide your client with all of the essential details of your business and the upcoming contract
  • To inform your clients of the next steps and how you will be moving forward
  • To give your clients the chance to ask any questions or raise any concerns about the business process
  • To empower your clients to feel confident in the upcoming project
  • To set expectations of the project, including the aims, each person’s role, your availability, your boundaries, and clarify expectations of important functions
  • To enhance client satisfaction, client’s experience, and customer experience
  • To improve the lead generation process, web design process, and crm system
  • To determine scope creep and have a great documented process that will affect profits in a positive way

Benefits of the Client Onboarding Process

3 super benefits why you should definitely have a good client onboarding flow.

1. Setting Expectations

Onboarding ensures all goals, expectations, and boundaries are set for both you and your client. You want to start building a rapport to create a strong relationship with your clients. Provide them with the necessary details of the contract and obtain any information you need from your client and your client’s business.

2. Retaining Clients

By perfecting your client onboarding process, you are more likely to retain your existing clients.

Around 80% of your revenue is generated from 20% of your existing clients, so it’s important to focus on making your clients happy. And this starts with amazing onboarding.

3. Growing Your Business

When your client retention rates are high and you have happy customers, you will build a positive reputation. Your clients and customers will recommend you to their network. From here, you can obtain great testimonials, which will enable you to scale and improve your business.

A sales process is also connected to client onboarding. Good client onboarding can also help you to streamline the sales process, which can help to generate more leads and boost sales for your business.

How to Have a Successful Client Onboarding Process

Now you’ve answered the question of ‘what is client onboarding’, you can now focus on how to ensure you have a successful process of onboarding clients.

1. Send a Welcome Message

It’s a courtesy to send a warm welcome to your clients. Your sales team can introduce them to your team members and give them a feel for the company. You want them to immediately feel like an important part of the entire team so they know they’ve made the right decision to work with you.

2. Collecting Necessary Data

Obtaining client information is key to the success of your onboarding and your project management. The exact information you need will vary from client to client, but in general, it’s a good idea to gain details about the following.

  • Their contact details
  • Their future goals
  • How often they’d like to communicate with you
  • Relevant information about their marketing background

Make sure you clearly state who is your new client’s point of contact so you’re both on the same page. You can assign a team member from your business to keep in regular contact with your new

client as part of a successful onboarding process. You are forming a business relationship that needs to remain professional in order to achieve your goals and the client’s goals.

You can gain relevant details using a client questionnaire, written forms or emails, over the phone, or face to face in a consultation. This ensures you can set realistic aims to improve engagement and

achieve long-term success. You may also want to use a client onboarding software that will automate the data collection process.

3. Outlining Aims, Expectations, and Boundaries

The next step when you are taking on new clients is to set out the aims and expectations of the project. It’s also important to outline the boundaries of your project and your marketing strategy.

Your client should be able to set their goals and outcomes, and you should clarify what you expect from them. Set out the timeline of the project and your customer journey, and schedule future feedback calls and follow-ups. By the end of the client onboarding process, both you and your client should have a detailed plan of action.

4. Communicate with the Team

Onboarding a new client is important for the overall success of your business. Inform your existing team about the client, and prepare them for the work ahead. This can be done through a kick off call as well as a series of follow up phone calls to give both parties the necessary knowledge for a successful partnership and a great working relationship. Each of your current employees needs to know their specific roles and responsibilities within the project.

If your team needs additional notes or documents pertaining to the new client, provide them in time for the project to start smoothly and to ensure client success.

Often, an initial team call will be made with the client so everybody is on the same page, and so that they can meet every employee and get a feel for the way the team interacts. You want the client experience to be positive, whether they are current clients or new clients. Use your communication skills to set clear expectations so the client understands your services and the work involved.

5. Follow-up

Checking in with your client is just as important as the initial consultation. Ensure you give them your contact information and create a communication schedule based on your availabilities.

By keeping in touch with your clients, you can gain valuable feedback to see how they’re getting on with the process. They will have the opportunity to ask questions or raise any issues they’ve encountered.

The follow-up is for both you and your client to feel confident that things are moving in the right direction. Aim to check in with them around 2-4 weeks after your first meeting.

It may sound like a lengthy process, but it’s worth investing the time and energy into creating an effective onboarding system. A good onboarding process helps to build a strong client relationship. It keeps your new client happy and lays the foundation for a successful future relationship with them.

Project Kick-Off Meeting Agenda: Banish Scope Creep Template

project kick off meeting

Picture this: You’ve onboarded a fantastic client. You’re psyched to get started and it’s time to hand the project off to the account manager.

The next step is easy: everyone can just jump right in and start cracking on those deliverables! Time to pour yourself a cold one.

* record scratch *

Eh, not so fast there, Kemosabe.

Shut the fridge door! Before you get started, you need to hold a project kick-off meeting.

Okay, what is this and why do you need it?

A successful project kickoff meeting is a critical step in any successful project. It gets your whole team on the same page, aligns the sales team, account manager, project manager, and deliverables team, and helps avoid unnecessary (and time-consuming) bottlenecks.

Sound good? Yeah, it’s a pretty great tool for scaling. But most importantly, a project kick-off meeting helps you avoid dreaded, costly, frustrating scope creep.

Nobody got time for that.

During a project kickoff meeting, you’ll cover topics like:

  • What exactly did sales promise the client?
  • Are there any special considerations for the client or project?
  • What’s the expected turnaround time?

Think about it: how can your team run a successful project that leaves the client happy without a project kickoff meeting? Skip that step, and you’re missing a crucial part of the delivery process.

Fortunately, it’s easy to run a successful project kick-off meeting that leaves every member of your team informed, aligned, and ready to dive in and get things done. The result is promises delivered and happy clients for your agency.

Ready to learn more about how you can master the project kickoff meeting process? Get the scoop below.

Table of Contents

What’s a Project Kickoff Meeting?
Why do you need a project kickoff meeting agenda anyway?
Sample Kickoff Meeting Agenda
No leaving the room without a clear-cut action plan.

What is a Project Kickoff Meeting?

A project kickoff meeting is the first meeting between the client and the team working on the project.

Wondering when to hold a kick off meeting? Great question.

Typically, it takes place after the agency has officially onboarded a client. Your team and the client have already agreed on project details like the scope of work and the budget.

So where does a kick off meeting fit into the equation? The kick off meeting is your time to learn as much as you can about the client, their expectations, and their goals.

A well-organized project kick off meeting agenda covers topics like:

  • The project’s main objectives
  • Team members’ primary responsibilities
  • The high-level scope of the project
  • Assumptions that went into the planning process
  • The proposed schedule for delivery and review

In a lot of cases, there’ll be more topics covered in a project kickoff meeting. But apart from defining the whats and whys, a project kick off meeting should also cover the hows, providing a clear direction and strategy for the project in question.

Who Should Attend the Meeting?

 

Put your dancing shoes on ‘cause it’s a kickoff meeting partay! Who should get an invite?

As a general rule, project kick off meetings should include everyone involved in the project. Or anyone who has a (direct or indirect) interest in it.

This list isn’t exhaustive, but the following people should probably get an invite:

  • The Project Team: The project team is your group of full-time and part-time team members who are working on the deliverables associated with the project. Depending on the type and scope of the project, this might include copywriters, designers, and project and account managers.
  • Project Sponsor: The project sponsor is the person (typically an executive) responsible for managing, administering, funding, and monitoring the project. To put it another way: the project sponsor is the person who makes sure work is getting done and that the project is on-track for delivery.
  • Project Stakeholders: The project stakeholders are the specific group of people who have an internal or external interest in the project’s successful outcome. These people may be your project team members or members of the client’s creative team.

While this is a general outline of the people who should be included in a project kick off meeting, it’s important to remember that each meeting and project is different. Include anyone who is important to the project and its successful completion.

Why do You Need a Meeting Agenda?

The start of a new project can feel a little overwhelming. There’s a lot of information flying around. You’re dealing with a new client, a new project, a new set of goals, and a lot of metrics and KPIs in-between.

Is chaos inevitable? No way.

It’s processes that bridle the chaos, and turn it into an organized system so creativity can flow.

The best way to keep that information organized and make sure you don’t miss anything during the project kick off meeting is to create a project kick off meeting agenda.

Here are a few benefits of flexing a meeting agenda:

  • Increased clarity about the project, goals, and deliverables
  • A second (and third, and fourth) set of eyes on the project to make sure all questions are answered and details covered
  • The development of important next steps — including a project execution plan and direction

Good news, Amigo. You don’t have to start your kickoff meeting agenda from scratch. Let’s take a look at a few kickoff meeting use cases and sample agendas you can adapt for your agency.

Sample Kickoff Meeting Agenda: 5 Key Steps to Follow

While every project is different, it pays to have a well-defined structure before starting any kickoff meeting.

Here’s the project kick off meeting template I swear by:

Step #1: Introduce the Team and Client

The effective kickoff meeting is a great time to make introductions. With that in mind, begin the meeting by congratulating everyone on the new external project and thanking them for their time.

To ensure everyone is on the same page at the start of the meeting, ask a few key questions:

  • Has everyone been introduced?
  • Does everyone understand everyone else’s role in the project?
  • Is everyone familiar with the project’s deliverables and scope?
  • Does everyone understand the position of this project in the larger context of the company?

If the project involves people who have never worked together before, take some time to introduce everyone, provide some project background, and explain how each team member fits into the project in question.

Step #2: Cover the Project Summary

You issued an intake form during the client onboarding process right? Be sure to do that. Because now’s the time to look over the responses.

This will help put the project in context and ensure everyone on your team understands things like:

  • What the project entails
  • Why it matters
  • Why it’s important to your client and team
  • Who the end-user of the site, product, content, etc. will be
  • Potential risks, constraints, difficulties, or roadblocks involved with the project

If there are any questions regarding the intake form or project summary, this is a great time to address them.

Step #3: Drill Down on the Approach

Typically, your agency will have already hammered out a Scope of Work (SOW) agreement before you sit down at the internal project kickoff meeting. Still, a successful kickoff meeting should cover the high-level scope of the project and, more importantly, the approach you plan to take to tackle the project.

Because most of the time, by the time they pay you they not only forgot what they paid you for and they want it done yesterday. #TheStrugleIsReal sooo…

Here are a few questions to ask and answer about the project scope:

  • What are the milestones and their delivery dates?
  • What tools, software, or platforms will you use to complete the project?
  • How will you address bottlenecks, time crunches, risks, compliance issues, etc. associated with the project?
  • Which team members or departments need to work together and communicate to get the project done?

Let the client know how your business and services work and agree upon the project scope.

Go through the project timeline, estimates, statements of work, and anything else that’s applicable.

Remember your project management checklist? It was born for this. Get it out and start using it.

Step #4: Define Team Roles

project kick off meeting agenda

For a project to run smoothly, everyone needs to understand who’s supposed to be doing what, and when. To this end, acknowledge your team’s unique assortment of skills, and be sure everyone understands their role on the project.

Before you leave the kickoff meeting, attendees should know:

  • What they’re supposed to be working on (including key milestones, the expectations for those milestones, and target delivery dates)
  • The KPIs or metrics that will be used to track success on those deliverables
  • Who else on the team they need to work with

If anyone has questions about their role or position in the project, answer them during this phase.

Step #5: Outline Clear Next Steps

Next, come up with a project management plan to ensure that each attendee knows what comes next and what’s expected of them to drive the project to fruition. Set-up full project clarity before impatience takes over the meeting.

Make a plan for keeping everyone on the same page. This is the part where you talk about the collaboration tools you’ll be using, like Slack and Asana. You’ll also want to address how you’ll handle client questions that will inevitably arise during the project.

Discuss and clear misunderstandings regarding project objectives. Get all the questions out of the way before you start cracking on deliverables.

Bottom line: leave nothing to the imagination.

Wrapping up

To put it plainly: a project kickoff meeting is a must-do any time you start a new job.

In addition to helping you avoid unnecessarily time-consuming and (yikes) embarrassing miscommunications, a kickoff meeting puts every team member on the same page and makes it much easier to hit the ground running.

You can’t just waltz, or rather, stumble, into a client kickoff meeting unprepared.

Instead, you need a project kick off meeting agenda. An airtight and scalable kickoff meeting agenda keeps you and your team on track and all bases covered. Oh, and bonus — it makes your team look good, too.

Okay, let’s review your action steps:

  1. Introduce the team and provide background
  2. Review the project summary and client onboarding form responses
  3. Define and align the approach and scope of the project
  4. Specify roles, deliverables, and tools used to get the job done
  5. Plan to collaborate, communicate, and get started on the next steps

While no two project kick-off meetings are the same, the template above is flexible enough to adapt for any meeting. The idea is that it provides a strong foundation to build from and customize. With this template, you’ve got a decent starting point every time you sit down to meet with a client.

Are you ready to execute your projects like a pro and scale up your business like never before? Check this case study on how a divorced single mom of two turned her side project into a growing business.


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Why Your Agency Needs a Client Onboarding Process

86% of consumers say they’re more likely to remain loyal to a brand if it invests in onboarding content — welcoming them and educating them after they’ve made a purchase. 

Did you know that more than half of consumers have returned a product/ service, 

simply because they didn’t know how to use it? 

Client onboarding is crucial for retaining customers and increasing brand loyalty. 

So, what does it take to have a supercharged client onboarding process in place

Don’t make it easy for your competitors to steal your hard-won clients. 

We’ll show you how to get started with a client onboarding process that’ll improve your customer retention rates. 

What Is a Client Onboarding Process?

Love it or hate it, client onboarding is the red-headed stepchild of your business. 

You know it’s there.

You know it needs a lot of TLC. 

But you still ignore it and put all your focus on the sales process instead.

And herein lies the problem:

Your customers deserve your attention even after you close the deal. 

That’s why client onboarding exists and is relevant.  

The client onboarding process is your ability to pass the baton from sales to production successfully. 

It’s the experience you give to your client as soon as you, well, onboard them. 

From the customer’s point-of-view, onboarding is the support they expect to get post-sale. 

But why does client onboarding matter?

A recent study by Wyzowl found that over 63% of surveyed customers believed the onboarding process was an essential part of their decision to partner with a brand. 

When customers feel unappreciated during the onboarding process, 

they’re likely to stop doing business with that company and take their dollars elsewhere 

— to someone who gives a damn. 

So, what does that mean for you? 

Those amazing customer acquisition strategies you’ve created won’t give your business a double or triple-digit revenue increase if your customer retention is low. 

To give your clients the confidence that they’ve put their resources in the right team, you need to spend at least half of your business development budget (roughly 10% of your revenue) on the customer experience.

The effects of this investment may not be immediate. 

But investing in customer experience can skyrocket your business revenue by 200%.

It’s that powerful. 

Remember, regardless of what you may have believed so far, client onboarding is your company’s backbone. 

Five Key Parts of An Effective Client Onboarding Process

Establishing an effective client onboarding can be overhauled in a few hours. Use these five simple steps to get started. 

  1. Client Intake  — Begin with the end in mind and make a list of all of the assets, things, or people you’ll need to create a fantastic client journey.
  2. Client Brief — Before your team starts working on a project, ensure they have a detailed understanding of the client’s requirements. A client brief is all the information on a project, from sales to production. The absence of an excellent brief risks failing to deliver what you’ve promised your client. So, make sure the client brief is accurate, detailed, and on-point.
  3. Welcome Kit — Acquiring a new customer may be exhilarating for a business. For a client, though, it may lead to buyer’s remorse. This is where a Welcome Kit, with a positive email, helps build trust in your business right from the start.
  4. Kickoff — Set the stage for the client’s expectations with a good project kickoff meeting. Ensure clear communication while introducing your team to the client and reinforce that the client has made the right decision by choosing you.
  5. Client Results — Client onboarding doesn’t end at the start of production. Map your client’s journey and measure the results against the promises you’ve made — regularly. During this process, cover all the touchpoints of your client’s journey for a seamless experience without chaos.

Supercharge your  Client Onboarding 

A quick reminder here — the moment you onboard a client, kick it into high gear! 

Keep that $$$ – attracting a new client costs five times more than retaining the existing one.

  1. Scope out client intake to get a handle on the people, assets, and steps to take for success.
  2. Give your team a detailed understanding of the project with a client brief.
  3. Build trust with your client with a Welcome Kit.
  4. Ensure clear communication and deliver on promises with a kickoff meeting.
  5. Map your client’s journey and measure the results.

Bonus: 

View our Client Management Checklist to learn what client management systems you should implement after onboarding.