Client onboarding is the process of setting up everything for a client, both internally and externally. This process usually contains repetitive tasks that are great candidates for automation. Let's dive into what a client onboarding process might look like, and how you can use automation to improve it.
In a study done by Harvard Business Review, more than 80 percent of executives said that an increased focus on onboarding offers a significant or moderate positive impact over the life of the contract for revenue, client renewals, and client referrals. It makes sense because it's the first thing a potential client experiences when they're interacting with your business.
However the client experiences the onboarding process, it will have set the tone for what it's like to work with you. Have a bad onboarding experience and you will spend the rest of your working relationship repairing it. Have a great onboarding experience and you will profit every step along the way.
Using automation tools with client onboarding will help you automate the transactional stuff (inviting them to tooling, sending over contracts, etc.) and free up time to make the important parts of onboarding more personal. Below we've listed what an onboarding process might look like. We will go through the process step by step and suggest useful automations and tools to work with. Depending on the type of work you do and the industry you work in, your onboarding process might look a little different, but the principles still apply.
Your future clients will go through various automated stages of onboarding. It's helpful to keep a record of some kind to easily get an overview of your onboarding landscape. Ideally, you would use your CRM, like HubSpot or Zoho. Otherwise, you can also use a tool that has a Kanban board like Trello. ProcessKit is also a great tool for this.
The first step of this onboarding experience is qualification. This is where we'll qualify leads. You can use forms (like Typeform or Google Forms) to ask customers questions to start building a profile. You can also qualify your leads using Zapier. For example, you could use Clearbit to enhance your lead data.
This step will most likely be the trigger of any workflow related to the onboarding process.
The follow-up is an important part of any sales process. When a lead is converted, it's a good practice to follow up on what you've discussed. Make sure you structure your follow-up email effectively.
Unfortunately, not every meeting will lead to a converted lead. When this happens, make sure to follow-up after a few weeks. Maybe this potential client has changed their mind.
Setting up the follow-up workflow should be done in your CRM if it has the capacity to do that. If not, create a workflow in your favorite automation tool, or consider a marketing suite like Active Campaign (which integrates with both Zapier and Integromat).
After meeting the client, it's time to send over the paperwork. It's helpful to use apps like HelloSign or DocuSign to automate a large part of the legal work. Most of the information should already be available from earlier steps in the process.
If you frequently find important data missing for this step to occur automatically, this might be a good point to break up your automation. You could create a new workflow that only continues if certain pieces of information have been gathered in a spreadsheet for example. In this way, you can augment the missing information manually and have the workflow continue.
When your client has signed the documents, we can officially start the collaboration. This step might look very different from your tooling. Below are some examples of the tooling that you should set up at this point.
This step is where you can make a difference by adding a personal flair. ProcessKit recommends adding a personal touch to your onboarding by creating a welcome page or video.
If multiple people will be working with this client, it's a good idea to have them participate in the introductions.
Besides welcoming the client, it's important that you describe what the process will look like from here on out. You should explain the tooling that you've invited them for, etc. Take a look at Eyelet, in which you can create a personalised onboarding guide for clients.
This post was written by Luc Meijer.