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Client Onboarding 101: Definition, Process Checklist and Templates

Client onboarding isn’t so different from employee onboarding. While employee onboarding involves integrating new members into an organisation, client onboarding is all about welcoming new customers to a business. Both processes revolve around networking, building trust and forming long-lasting, professional relationships.  

Why is client onboarding important? 

Organising an effective client onboarding process works towards a higher rate of client retention and smaller churn rate. Client churn refers to the process of customers discontinuing their usage of a company’s product or service. On the flip side, client retention represents a company’s ability to continuously engage their clients, encourage repeat purchases and maintain customer relationships. 

According to Harvard Business Review, attracting a new client can be five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. A pleasant client onboarding experience not only allows customers to better understand your product/service and the value they can derive from it, but also forges stronger brand loyalty.

Check out this insightful talk by growth advisor and marketplace expert Casey Winters on why client onboarding matters to your organisation

A 5-step client onboarding process

Here are five basic steps to follow through when mapping out your client onboarding process:

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Step One: Closing the Deal

The first stage in the client onboarding process goes hand-in-hand with having a strong sales process, during which prospective clients are properly educated by the sales team about the product/service and spurred to make a purchase. From there, the client will sign the contract (if applicable) and make payment. Ensure that all payment details and necessary paperwork are sorted out before proceeding to the next step. 

Step Two: Welcome Introductions 

Many are willing to pay more to have a good customer experience. Now that they’re on board, make your clients feel appreciated. Send them a welcome email, gift them with a complimentary care package and issue out questionnaires to get their opinion on important issues. Leave room for communication so they know you’re open and receptive to feedback. This will not only aid you in improving on customer concerns, but will further enrich their knowledge about the organisation and its core values. 

Step Three: Preparation 

After introductory greetings have been issued, start allocating support resources accordingly. Plan an internal meeting to discuss customer expectations and assign appropriate team members to service the clients. Continue disseminating relevant information as well as identifying further needs.  

Step Four: Checking In

The client onboarding journey doesn’t just end within the first week or so. Conduct regular check-ins (this could be within a 30-day or 90-day time frame) between the service team and client to ensure things are progressing smoothly and that client satisfaction is maintained. 

Step Five: Engage 

Continuous engagement encourages repeat purchases and customer referrals. Work closely with your team to develop plans for retention, such as how to follow-up with them and/or entice clients with further discounts and promotions. Keep a close eye on your competitors and make constant changes to stay up-to-date with the evolving market. 

Client onboarding templates to try out 

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You can manage a smoother client onboarding and run client projects more efficiently with the help of automation platforms offering checklist templates like Teamwork and Zapier, which prevent you from missing out any steps in the process. 

Here at Forma, we’re newly integrated with Zapier, which means you can now trigger Zaps upon making database changes to notify team members via Slack, or your clients via SMS or Facebook messenger. Try out our range of process templates from client to employee onboarding, build a customisable workflow via an easy drag-and-drop system, and store client information in our database records (or retrieve them by connecting to your own personal database). 

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