The client onboarding process is the perfect opportunity to leave a positive first impression. The process is filled with promise, and if you handle it like a pro, you’ll set the foundations for a productive, lasting relationship. Here’s a deep dive into the client onboarding process—with a free, easy-to-use client onboarding checklist that will guarantee success.
What Is Client Onboarding (and Why Is It So Important)?
Client onboarding is the process of welcoming a new client, creating the foundations for success, and establishing the specific ways you’ll work together.
A great client onboarding process is important because it can help you:
- Improve retention rates for new clients.
- Ensure compliance with legal obligations.
- Make your clients happy and comfortable.
- Reduce potential scope creep.
- Work with your client more efficiently.
The onboarding process is also an important opportunity for you to make a positive first impression and demonstrate the smoothness and productivity of your relationship. Here’s a look at the goals you should try to achieve during your client onboarding process.
Introduce your business and your team.
Your new client has already passed through your sales funnel. But now is your chance to add a personal touch and create a closer relationship.
Address questions and concerns.
The onboarding process gives your client the chance to bring up anything he or she may be confused or concerned about.
You must understand your new client as much as possible. For instance, you’ll want to understand his or her goals, motivations, expectations, and preferred working methods.
Download a free client onboarding checklist
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You can download it to your desktop to check off each item digitally. Or print a copy and keep it on your desk.
The Basis for Your Onboarding: The Client Onboarding Questionnaire
The client onboarding process is a big opportunity for a project manager. To make sure you don’t miss any piece of important information that could help you further down the line, you should seize this opportunity with both hands.
A client’s onboarding questionnaire can help you make sure you fully apply yourself in the following ways:
- Make a good impression on your client.
- More fully understand your client’s philosophy.
- Collect important, practical information.
- Better understand your goals.
- Establish quantifiable metrics.
- Share software specifics.
- Earn referrals.
Here’s a closer look at the exact questions you should ask your client in an onboarding questionnaire.
First, you’ll need some important, practical information from your new client. You’ll also need to collect essentials like billing information, phone numbers, office hours, and more. Make sure you’re storing all of this information in your marketing agency software.
By ironing out this practical information as early as possible, you can set the foundations for a seamless collaboration, which also helps you avoid the embarrassment of asking for key information further down the line!
If you’re going to successfully create close ties with your client and his or her team, you’ll want to understand who you’re working with. You should provide ample space in your questionnaire for this possibility.
You can express your personality here, too. If you feel like it’s appropriate, inject some character and interest into your questionnaire. Then you can create a more personal relationship.
Philosophy and Approach
You might understand the specifics of your collaboration. But do you really understand the way your client likes to work? The onboarding process gives you a great opportunity to show an interest in your client. You could make this section of your questionnaire by including disagree/agree statements that will make it interactive and charming.
Desires and Goals
If you’re going to deliver as a project manager, you must have a very clear understanding of the specifics your client wants. So you should use the questionnaire as a way to ask your client exactly what he or she hopes to achieve.
You should also find out how your clients measure success. So you should understand the metrics they use and find out how you can help them achieve their goals.
Your questionnaire gives you the perfect opportunity to collect important information from your new client and his or her software setup. So you should understand the tools he or she uses and collect any of the access information you need.
This step will help you avoid confusion and inefficiency in the future. By asking for this information now, you’ll show your clients you have good foresight and planning, which is a great way to impress them and win them over!
When it comes to delivering your tool, lots of options are open to you. You could either use a specialized tool or take advantage of a free tool such as Google Suite. But you should be sure to personalize your questionnaire and make sure it’s secure.
Client Onboarding Checklist for Marketing and Ad Agencies
While the client onboarding questionnaire is one part of the client onboarding process, you must also have a detailed, comprehensive checklist, in order to make sure your process flawlessly proceeds. .
Here’s a look at the eight steps to take and effectively onboard a new client.
Clear Up Specifics
The first step to a successful onboarding process is making sure that all of the loose ends from the sales process have been neatly tied up. This tactic can help you avoid any potential roadblocks or headaches as you start collaborating with your new client.
Here’s a look at some of the essentials you’ll want to take care of:
- You should make sure your proposal has been properly accepted and approved within your client’s business.
- All of the contracts should be properly signed by the right people and stored in the appropriate places.
- Your finance department should confirm and process all of your initial payments.
This protocol requires collaboration from a variety of stakeholders within your business. So ideally, you should follow an established process.
Adjust Your Questionnaire
You should adjust your questionnaire as needed. For instance, you should make sure you get the right information for each specific client, and you should confirm that everything is practical and makes sense.
After you’ve confirmed the content of the questionnaire, you should start the dispatch process. First, you should make sure you’re using the most effective delivery method and sending it to the right stakeholder. You should also think about how you’re going to store and use the information you gather.
Strategize Based on Responses
After you receive your completed questionnaire, it’s time to interpret the information you’ve collected and think about how you’re going to use it.
Take a look at the key information you’ve received, and act on it. The actions you take might look like this list:
- Make sure the CRM is consistently updated.
- Send billing information to the finance department.
- Update appropriate calendars and contact lists.
- Create relevant accounts on various platforms.
Philosophy and approach
- Build a picture of your client that will inform your conversation and approach.
- Understand how your two teams work.
- Identify risks and opportunities.
Desires and goals
- Take note of quantifiable goals.
- Put tracking systems in place.
- Assess whether the goals match.
- Create relevant accounts.
- Log into platforms.
- Confirm functionality.
Internally Launch the Project
Now that you have a better understanding of the client and his or her needs, it’s time to internally launch the project and put all of the various pieces in place. This process happens behind the scenes. For your client, the result is a seamless onboarding process.
To internally launch the project, you’ll need to:
Assign the Client
The shape of this process varies from one agency to the next. It’s important that the client is assigned to the most appropriate project manager, and that every team member understands his or her responsibilities.
The best agencies are able to utilize sophisticated project management software that will measure their capacities and backup their data.
Launch the Workflow
It’s very important to establish your workflow before you host your kickoff event. To make sure everything is prepared, you should call on an internal checklist that includes:
- Email addresses
- Project management software accounts
- Review and approval software
By taking care of all these specifics, you can create a shiny new workflow that will get you off to a great start with your new clients.
Before you launch your kickoff, you should host a final internal meeting. This meeting will give you the opportunity to make sure all of the above steps have been properly performed, and that any specific considerations have been made.
Host a Kickoff
The big moment is here. It’s time to coordinate your client kickoff and truly get your collaboration underway. During this phase of the onboarding process, you’ll want to achieve a few important goals.
Now you have the opportunity to make introductions. Then you can forge the budding connections that will hopefully grow into important partnerships. You should make sure that everyone is present, and that they have the time to effectively introduce themselves.
Agencies really shouldn’t overlook this step. Rather than whizzing through handshakes, utilize them as opportunities to make impactful, human introductions.
Outline the Plan (and Your Goals)
With the pleasantries out of the way, it’s time to discuss how your relationship is going to progress, and what the plan looks like. To make this conversation as productive as possible, you should call on the information in our questionnaire.
You should also discuss your various goals and the specific ways you’re going to assess your progress. You should agree on what this process looks like, as well as the types of updates your client expects from you.
At this stage, you’ll also want to go through the key documents you’ve created, which could include:
- Project scope statement
- Review and approval guidelines
- Change request guidelines
- Project sign-off sheets
Define Your Next Steps
Now that you’ve outlined your general roadmap, it’s time to talk about specifics and next actions. Perhaps you can organically discuss these next steps in a regular conversation.
It’s a great idea to leave the conversation on a positive note. This tactic helps you create a sense of momentum and progress right away!
Send Your Welcome Package
After the call, you should send a welcome package to your new client. This package could include all of the project management templates you’ve created and a cheat sheet that includes important, practical information.
If you want to create an even deeper connection with your new client, you could also send a welcome letter (or welcome email) and some branded collateral. This sentiment could significantly help you retain your client and create a positive relationship.
Perform Regular Checkups
You should view the client onboarding process as ongoing client care. This attitude puts you in a mindset of always catering your work to your clients. It’s important to regularly touch base with your client and make sure everything is moving along nicely.
These regular checkups also give you the chance to catch any mistakes, so you can make sure everyone is happy. During these checkup meetings, you should discuss key concepts, such as:
- Tracking and performing milestones
- Correcting any mistakes
- Finding opportunities to work more efficiently
- Providing any additional services
Refine Your Process
The final step of the client onboarding process is learning from all your experiences. You should take notes throughout the process, and pay attention to any points you can improve.
To make sure your process is as efficient and effective as possible, these points should be acted on. If you can learn from each of your distinct onboarding experiences, you’ll inevitably improve and create a robust process.
Client Onboarding Checklist Template
It’s important to create your own client onboarding checklist and adjust it accordingly. Feel free to use the checklist we outlined above to make sure you can create a client onboarding checklist.
You can even download our free template for client onboarding checklists. This template makes it easy for you to make edits and adjustments as needed. Then you can tweak the branding in the template, so it fits with your agency.
We hope you like our free template. Feel free to download it here. We’re confident that it can drive value to your agency!
The client onboarding process will have a big impact on your client retention rate. We hope this closer look at the process helps you maximize your value possible and boosts your client relationships. To find out how you can further improve your relationships by using the right review and approval software, read more about Filestage today.
Are you interested in reading other client-related articles?
- DON’T Create a Client Intake Form Before You Read This
- How to Manage and Exceed Client Expectations: 13 Agency Experts Share Their Advice
- 5 tips for asking clients for feedback (and 3 things to avoid)