Onboarding – from prospect to paying client
A good onboarding process sets the tone for your future relationship and goes a fair way to deciding how long the relationship may last, and so the revenue from the client. Given this, it’s surprising how little thought is given to this process in comparison to lead generation and conversion, after all this relates to people who are actually going to give you money as opposed to those that might!
I heard a great story about an employee of an international company transferring to Tokyo and setting up a new office there. During the busy period of settling in, she needed to set up a local personal bank account. Choosing at random she went for a branch near her flat and walked in set up an account then thought a little more of it. Later that evening a visitor came to her flat. She was a little surprised as she knew very few people in the city, but the well-dressed gentleman introduced himself as her bank manager and had bought her a cake as a welcome to Tokyo gift and as a thank you for entrusting her money to his company. Now, I’m not sure that story is true but put ourselves in the clients’ position and imagine how much “credit” that company earned from this simple act.
Truth is it doesn’t need to be gifts or extravagant gestures but a well-thought-out process can ease the client journey, position your company as the competent professionals in your field, and get your relationship off to a great start.
What’s your Goal?
As with all processes, the first consideration is the goal, what needs to happen for the client to move into the next stage? Onboarding can be a checklist of collecting data, booking meetings, and setting up payments and as such, seen as the routine, admin-laden process before we really get going. So think of how you can provide client value fast! Are there quick wins that you can achieve for your client? Do they see the roadmap to delivery and success? That should be the goal of a successful onboarding process. You are building confidence, which leads us to the next consideration.
Did I make the right decision??
That’s what’s going on in the client’s mind when they agree to work with you. The more they are spending, the louder that voice is going to be. So just in case, why not start with a buyer remorse letter?
Put simply, this is a welcome aboard and, fear not, you have made the right decision message. It’s almost an extra sales letter, reminding them of the value you bring and how you understand the problems they want to solve. It’s a good opportunity to let them know the early value you are providing.
This is one email that will get opened.
Once you have bought into something your client will be excited to get going. They want to know what happens next and this can be used to your advantage. Of any email, you send this is the most likely to be opened. It’s an opportunity to make sure they are receiving emails and you’re avoiding the dreaded spam folder. Make sure they expect an email, check spam folders, etc. Ask for a response and take this chance to ask them to add you as a contact and ensure the emails are always accepted from your domain, providing instructions to do this. You may decide to look at the text, What’s app as an alternative, or maybe the main communication channel, it’s a good time to ask for preference and set expectations. You may even send an old fashioned letter or give them a call as a welcome aboard!
Onboarding or Overloading
I worked with a company where onboarding was taken seriously and there were a series of emails going out once a client agreed on a contract. Unfortunately, they weren’t well-coordinated and the client got them from the project team, the sales team and a welcome from the CEO. By signing in as a client, you can see the process from a different angle. In this case, on some days there were three emails arriving, but then weeks before any further communication.
The other form of overwhelm is when you transfer too much data at once or demand all the data from the clients in one go. What would work best; a full handbook or a FAQ email, a list of questions or an interactive checklist, invoice, and payment or card/direct debit. Whatever you plan make sure you know what it looks like from the other side.
The client experience of your business is happening whether you like it or not and the quality of their experience is directly linked to your revenue. So let’s make sure it’s deliberate, high quality, and consistent. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship!
Get in touch if you’d like to discuss your onboarding or any other process.