An effective client onboarding system can be the difference between a client relationship running smoothly, or becoming a total nightmare. If you set things up right from the off, you can feel confident that you’ve done everything you need to to start the project together and your client will feel secure in the knowledge that they did the right thing in hiring you.
By creating a standard system that you use each time you onboard a new client, you are ensuring that each person has an equally positive experience and that all your boxes are ticked before you begin - making your life easier and their life happier.
So how do you create a dreamy onboarding system?
It’s important that when you are creating your system, you think of your client’s journey at each step, and also what you need behind the scenes. Onboarding should be mutually useful.
Break the client journey down into several steps and consider what they, and you, need at each stage.
STEP ONE: THE INITIAL INQUIRY
This is where your new potential client stumbles across you online and checks out your website. They are, understandably. Impressed and reach out to discuss potentially working together.
As this stage, ask yourself:
How will they make initial contact? E.g. do they complete a form, send an email, DM you on Instagram, etc.
What information do you need for them at this stage?
What information will they receive? E.g. confirmation email, details of next steps, etc.
Once you have the answers to these questions, it’s time to get everything set up!
STEP TWO: THE DISCOVERY CALL
Whether you’re a coach, designer, or other service provider, it’s always a great idea to have a discovery call with any potential clients for a couple of reasons:
To ensure that you are a good fit in terms of what they need
To ensure that you are a good fit in terms of personality (this is especially important if the relationship is going to be ongoing/long-term)
To gauge the scope of the project and ensure that you are charging enough for the work required
To get a good understanding of what the client needs help with (it’s much easier to chat on the phone or via Zoom than go back and forth on emails)
For this phase of the onboarding system you need to think about how you want them to book onto the call. Do you have a scheduling tool? Does the scheduling tool have the capacity to send automated reminders?
Then, thinking about the call itself, will you have a set of questions that you run through on every call? Will you just go with the flow of the call?
Pro Tip: For any discovery call, make sure you have essential info on hand e.g. your pricing, links to any forms you need them to complete, etc. Whilst searching for things during the call is totally natural/human, it’s always good to be prepared!
Don’t forget to add a reminder to your calendar to follow up with them after the call if you don’t hear from them.
STEP THREE: THEY SAY YES!
The client decides you’re the one - Yay!
It’s time to get things started. This is where you need to find out all the information that is required before you kick off work. Create a form or questionnaire that asks all the relevant questions and gives them space to elaborate on the scope of the project so that you’re both on the same page.
Some information you may need from them includes:
Their full name
Their VAT number
A list of tools they use in their business
Passwords for those tools!
Which package they want to book with you
If you’re sending the form via email it’s also helpful to have a template email saved and ready to go.
STEP FOUR: GETTING SET UP BEHIND THE SCENES
You will definitely need a checklist for this stage- in fact, probably a different checklist for each of the different services you offer!
You need to set up all of the background work that you need for a new client. This is everything from your contract and welcome packet, to workflow and shared folders. By setting these things up now, you will save yourself a lot of time and stress in the long run!
Getting these things set up behind the senses is something that you can hand over to your VA. Once the client has completed their intake form/questionnaire, your VA should have everything they need to create the following:
Client Welcome Packet
Shared Google Folder
Workspace in your project management tool - I use Asana
To help with this I've created a roadmap of all the steps you need when you onboard a new client - download it here!
STEP FIVE: GETTING STARTED
Send all your documents to your client, schedule a kick-off call and get started! By this point you should have all the information you need, and everything set up ready to hit the ground running.
By doing all this work beforehand, you will save a lot of email tennis asking questions back and forth before things can start. You can also ensure that everything is documented clearly for both parties and to avoid any miscommunications or scope creep.
Once your onboarding system is finalised, you can document it as part of your SOPs and offer each new client a consistently positive experience with you.