Client Intake Forms: A Full Guide to New Client Satisfaction and Retention
Your business is trending on social media for the wrong reason. A dissatisfied client posted a video about their unpleasant experience at your business. You watch the video and then realize that there was a miscommunication between you two over the details of the project. But instead of reaching out to you, the client took it to the court of public opinion.
You watch your business being dragged in the mud.
Your clients call in, worried over the fate of their projects with you. It feels like a nightmare you can’t wake up from.
Do you know that you can avoid such a situation by implementing a client intake form? Yes, it’s that simple. In this article, you’ll learn how to create a client intake form, why you need one, the right questions, how to optimize the client intake process, and so much more.
Client Intake Forms Guide – Content Index
Every client has expectations when they pay for a business service. When their expectations fall short, they are unsatisfied. A dissatisfied customer tends to be a noisy customer who makes their problem with your business known to the rest of the world.
You don’t need all that drama. You have a business to run and you can only do that successfully when your clients are happy.
Start your relationship with clients on a good note by implementing a client intake form. In simple terms, it’s a document that helps you to know new clients and their expectations.
It’s exciting to add a new client to your roster, no doubt. But the excitement fizzles out if you eventually discover that the client isn’t a good fit for your organization. The earlier you make this discovery, the better.
A client intake form helps you to collect all relevant data about your client’s needs and evaluate your business’s ability to meet those needs. It saves you the trouble of finding out that you and your client are a mismatch after going deep into the business.
According to a Forbes report, businesses have a 60 to 70 percent chance of selling to an existing client versus a five to 20 percent chance of selling to a new client.
Your relationships with your clients matter. When you match with a client from your intake form, there is a high chance that both of you will have a good business relationship.
The overarching question is: Does your business need a client intake form? Creating a client intake form when it’s not needed is a waste of valuable time.
An intake form offers the most benefits to service-based businesses rather than product-based businesses.
The quality of your service influences the client’s satisfaction rate. When a client signs up for your service, their topmost concern is to get the value that they are paying for. How you provide that value is entirely up to you. Offering a client intake form is part of your efforts to deliver great services.
A list of businesses that use a client intake form includes the following:
- Digital agencies
- Human resources
- Medical professionals
- Marketing and advertising
- Interior design
- Wellness establishments
If your business is on the above list or related to an item on the list, you are missing out on the opportunity to know your clients and satisfy their needs better if you don’t have a client intake form.
Read along to find out more reasons why you need a client intake form in the next chapter.
A client intake form isn’t a contact form; it’s a lot more, and the benefits it offers serve as proof.
The time and resources spent engaging with unproductive clients can be put to better use. Instead of gaining, you lose.
Losing is bad for business.
Good clients are an asset to your organization. Besides the monetary gains that they offer you, they can also enhance your reputation with good reviews and testimonials.
A client intake form helps you to vet prospective clients for the following benefits:
The quality of the service you deliver speaks volumes about your competence.
A client intake form enables you to deliver top-notch services by helping you to understand your client’s pain points. Rather than offering a generic service, you streamline your services to your client’s needs and expectations, increasing their level of satisfaction.
Clients have the liberty to choose the organizations that they work with. This is often overlooked but organizations also have the liberty to choose the kinds of clients they work with.
As a business, you should have a target clientele that embodies certain qualities. Any client that doesn’t meet your criteria shouldn’t make your list. A client intake form helps you to screen them out by asking relevant questions.
3. Saving time and resources
Sending emails back and forth to get acquainted with a new client takes time. There might be long pauses in your correspondence that will delay the start of the project and its completion.
A client intake form helps you to kickstart the project in the shortest time possible by asking all the relevant questions at once and having the client answer them.
Once you have the form back, you can ascertain if you want to work with the client. If you are satisfied with their response, you can commence work immediately.
4. Avoiding conflict
It’s expected of clients to ask for additional inputs or revisions when they aren’t satisfied with the work yet. This might not be a problem if the changes requested are minimal. But when there are too many and it feels like you are starting the work from scratch, it could affect your working capacity especially when the clients aren’t making additional payments.
You can avoid such a situation by asking questions about clients’ specific expectations with a client intake form and being intentional about meeting their expectations.
If you work in an industry where revisions are required, you can control the number of revisions by informing clients about the limits beforehand.
5. Maintaining professionalism
Continuously asking your client questions about a project you are working on could make you come across as incompetent. They are probably busy and don’t appreciate the many messages from you.
Save them the disturbance by collecting the relevant information that you need upfront with a client intake form. Understandably, you may need more information from your client afterward. But if you do due diligence with your intake form, the subsequent questions you will ask them will be minimal.
Now that you are aware of the benefits of using a client intake form, you are probably sold on the idea. Do you also want to know what the client intake process looks like? Check it out in the next chapter.
The client intake process is the phase that a prospective client goes through to find your business and engage with you.
Gone are the days when businesses relied solely on physical meetings and recommendations to acquire new clients. Thanks to the internet, you can get a good share of the market in your industry with a good online presence.
The client intake process details how a prospective client engages with your business online and helps you to convert them into paying clients. The intake process includes the following:
A customer who is looking for your services begins the process of finding you by browsing the internet for businesses in your industry. At this point, the customer doesn’t have your business in mind and is only looking for the best service out there.
With thousands, if not millions of businesses like yours online, it’s easy for your business to get lost in the crowd. It’s your responsibility to ensure that you are visible and easily found.
More than 50 percent of website traffic comes through search, according to a recent report. Search engines like Google are the first point of call for online queries, so you have to adopt effective search engine optimization (SEO) practices to have your website appear at the top of search engine result pages (SERPs) so you can be seen.
You have a visitor on your website who is interested in your services. The last thing you want to happen is for them to exit without taking favorable action.
This is where your client intake form comes in.
It’s important to note that your intake form isn’t your regular contact form. While a contact form is meant for general inquiries, a client intake form is meant for visitors who are interested in doing business with you.
This is your opportunity to turn the visitor into your client.
Don’t make your form complex. Yes, you need to collect adequate information, but that doesn’t mean collecting irrelevant or too much information.
Optimize every detail of your form to avoid form abandonment. Simplicity is the watchword here. If a prospect has to go through so much stress just to fill out a form, they imagine how difficult it must be to work with you, and that’s a red flag.
If a prospective client took the time to fill out your intake form, courtesy demands that you welcome and appreciate them for the effort. While there is no guarantee that you’ll work with them eventually, welcoming them will make them feel appreciated.
Sending a welcome message, manually, to every prospect that fills out your intake form will be tiring. Save yourself the stress by automating the process. You can automate the system to send a welcome message to them immediately after they submit the form.
Maintain a cordial tone in your message. While you want to come across as friendly, you should also maintain some level of professionalism especially as this is your first correspondence with the prospect.
Having collected the prospect’s data via your intake form, you have to analyze their information, word for word. First, check that they provided all the information you requested in your form.
Since every question asked in the form is relevant, their failure to answer every question will omit vital information and signals a lack of cooperation.
What are the prospect’s needs and expectations? Do you have the expertise and resources to cater to them? If you are in doubt about your ability to deliver, you are probably not a good fit for the client.
The results of your data analyses will determine your next line of action with the prospect.
You should only schedule a meeting with a prospect when your data analysis of them is at the very least satisfactory. At this point, you may not be completely sure about working with the client but you see potential there. Meeting with them one on one and interacting with them in detail will be the confirmation that you need about working with them or not.
Physical meetings are great when meeting with prospective clients for the first time. Sitting close to them, you can get a sense of who they are and what they are about from their verbal and nonverbal signals.
When a physical meeting isn’t feasible, a phone call suffices. Ensure that you ask all the right questions and get clarity on gray areas.
One of these three things will happen at the end of your meeting:
- You and the client will agree that both of you are a good fit.
- You will decide that the client isn’t a good fit for your business.
- The client will decide that your business isn’t a good fit for them.
If the outcome of the meeting is favorable, i.e., you and the client agree to work together, it’s time to get to work.
You already have sufficient information about the project from your client intake form and your meeting with the client. Put the information to use in getting the job done.
You may have further correspondence with your client about the project but the information they already provided to you is paramount.
As discussed in this chapter, a client intake form prompts a prospect to contact you with the details of their project. But the structure of your form determines how much information you can get from them. Learn about the best tips on creating a client intake form in the next chapter.
The end goal of your client intake form is to help you satisfy your clients. Your form misses the mark if it’s unable to help you achieve that. Your prospects will work with what you give them. If your form is well-grounded, you will get a well-grounded response from them. The reverse is the case when there is barely enough information to be covered.
Let’s look at some factors that you can adopt to make your form worthwhile.
The first objective of your client intake form is to help you know your clients better. What better way to get to know them than by asking questions?
When you are getting to know someone, it’s only natural that you ask them questions. And if they are interested in building a relationship with you, they will be happy to answer your questions.
You and the prospect have a common interest to work together so your questions should be tailored to that.
Don’t ask questions that are irrelevant to your project. Avoid asking ambiguous questions too. Be precise to get the specific answers that you need.
Smart businesses grab every opportunity to promote their brands. You want to always put your brand out there—this includes having your brand information on all your assets.
Design your intake form with your brand colors, typography, and logo. Customizing your intake form with your branding allows you to familiarize the visitor to your website with your brand. It helps them to recognize your brand when they see it elsewhere even if they don’t end up working with you.
But don’t overdo it.
Keep the design simple—doing the most can be distracting to a visitor whose only interest is to fill out your intake form.
By doing so, you are implying that your engagement with them is based on the accuracy of the information they have provided. If it turns out that any information is false, you reserve the right to withdraw your services or take other appropriate actions.
Some prospects might start filling out your intake form and abandon it halfway through. While this is common with online forms, you want to ensure that the abandonment rate is very low. You can do that by integrating an abandoned form recovery system into your intake form.
The abandoned from recovery shows you the number of people who abandoned your form and where they abandoned it. This is valuable information that you can use to improve the conversion rate of your form.
If prospects are abandoning your form at a particular section, that’s an indication for you to revise that section as it may be complex or inappropriate to them.
Don’t get carried away focusing on your business needs with the form at the expense of the user experience. Remember, you can only get desired outcomes when the prospect is comfortable enough to comply. Make each step of the client intake process seamless for them.
As the business owner, your needs could make you blinded to areas that may hinder a prospect from going through the intake process successfully. Put yourself in the position of a visitor to your website and look out for a bottleneck that could prevent you from filling out the form and submitting it.
The best client intake forms are those that are modified continuously. If the data you collect from prospects don’t give you the results you desire, review your questions.
The following scenarios could play out if your questions aren’t effective:
- The client may get overwhelmed and abandon your form if it’s too long.
- The client may provide the wrong answers if they don’t understand your questions.
- The client may feel wary or uneasy answering questions they find invasive.
You may not create the perfect client intake form on your first try. Your resolve to keep evaluating your questions for improvement will eventually produce great results.
Asking the right questions gives you the vital information that you need about your clients. As we already mentioned, you need to stick to relevant questions. A great way to determine the relevance of a question is to figure out how the question will impact your understanding of the prospect and the quality of the service you offer them.
Divide the questions into the following sections for clarity.
Questions in this section help you to know your clients better.
- Please enter the date you are filling out this form.
- What is your full name?
- What is your company name?
- What is your company website?
- What industry category does your company belong to?
- What are your days of operation?
Questions in this section enhance your communication with your clients.
- Please provide your primary contact number(s).
- What is your email address?
- What contact method do you prefer?
- Please provide your physical address.
- What position do you hold within the company?
These questions are sensitive, so phrase them tactfully and only include them if they bring a lot of added value:
- Please provide your date of birth.
- Please provide your preferred gender pronouns.
Questions in this section help you to understand your client’s expectations for the project.
- Please state the project you want to engage our services for.
- What are the deliverables for the project?
- Do you have a timeline for the execution of the project?
- Do you have any special requirements for the project?
This section helps you to collect additional information that you may have missed out on in the earlier sections.
- Were you referred to us by anyone? If yes, can you let us know the person?
- Is there anything you want us to know?
A client intake form isn’t one-size-fits-all. The above questions are a guide for drafting your own questions. You have the liberty to create questions that cater to your unique business needs to give you desired results.
Having understood what a client intake form entails, you might want to learn how to create one yourself. You need the right tools to create and implement an effective client intake form in your business. Otherwise, it’ll be just another contact form. We have handpicked a great tool to help you do an amazing job with it. Find out all about it in the next chapter.
Chapter 5: How SweetProcess Can Help
Having decided to use a client intake form for your business, your next line of action is to create one. But first, you need to get the right tool.
The rising popularity of client intake forms has seen several tools for that purpose on the market. You have to know what you want and not be distracted. You want to see positive results, don’t you? SweetProcess guarantees you that.
A process-oriented software, SweetProcess helps businesses like yours to streamline their business procedures, policies, and processes for optimal performance. In this case, it allows you to create a comprehensive client intake form by adding form fields within the steps of your procedures. After creating a procedure, you can add form fields to it by editing the procedure.
It couldn’t be simpler. Let’s show you how it works when you log into the system.
- Click on “Add Form Field” on the procedure that you are editing.
- Choose the type of form field you want to create from the drop-down menu.
As you can see in the image above, we chose the “Text Field” option. You can choose whatever option you prefer.
Remember to create your intake form in line with your business needs, covering all the necessary questions. This part of the form allows you to create multiple form fields based on your needs. Simply click the “Add Form Field” tab again to create another one.
- Name the form field you have added.
- Save the changes you have made by clicking on the “Finished Editing” tab.
- Make the changes you have incorporated within your procedure go live by clicking on “Approve.”
Don’t have permission to approve procedures? You can request approval from authorized persons by clicking on the “Request Approval” tab as seen below.
Once the procedure is approved, your client intake form will be live and visible in your chosen area.
SweetProcess also allows you to arrange your form fields in your preferred order at any time by simply reordering them. Let’s show you how to do it.
- Click on the three vertical dots tab at the top right of the form field while editing the procedure.
- On the drop-down menu that shows up, click on “Move field up” to take it upward or “Move field down” to take it downward. You can click on “Remove field” if you want to delete the field completely.
There is so much more to SweetProcess than creating client intake forms. Over the years, the tool has built a reputation for transforming businesses. One of such businesses is Resolute Legal, a Canadian law firm. The organization scaled up tremendously by streamlining its business operations with SweetProcess.
The founder, David Brannen, understood that failure to standardize his operations could cost him his business, so he was very worried. Thankfully, he came across SweetProcess at the nick of time, and the rest is history.
Some of the ways SweetProcess can impact your business for the better
1. Documenting procedures
Documenting business procedures effectively saves time and resources. In the absence of documented procedures, employees depend on their individual knowledge to perform tasks, and the outcome of that can be damaging to your business. You are better off having everyone on the same page, working with the same results-driven procedures.
SweetProcess helps you to create comprehensive business procedures with a set of tools specifically designed for that purpose. Besides the use of texts, you can also use images, videos, charts, etc. to customize your procedures to your taste.
2. Implementing policies
It’s your responsibility to create a conducive working environment for your employees with the right policies. Failure to do this could lead to unethical practices and violations of human rights.
Business policies are most effective when employees are carried along, and SweetProcess makes provision for that. If you want, you can get the input of your team members in the policy creation process. When the document is live, you can grant access to all of them. That way, team members can easily check the document if they need clarity on anything.
Onboarding new employees can be very tasking. You spend weeks and even months trying to bring them up to speed, and it still feels like they don’t know half of the job yet.
What if we told you that SweetProcess could make your new employees competent in their jobs in a matter of hours or days?
It’s very simple. After documenting your procedures for each task, you share the link to the documents with them. Having all the information that they need at their disposal, your new employees will outdo themselves.
Established employees aren’t left out. You can train them on new tasks or roles by simply sharing the documented procedures with them.
US-based marketing agency, Spark Marketer, not only trained its employees effectively but also boosted their confidence in their jobs by empowering them with SweetProcess. According to the co-founder, Carter Harkins, his employees are more efficient than ever, having their work instructions at their disposal. If they need anything, they go get it themselves in SweetProcess instead of asking questions.
4. Managing tasks
Employees may choose to neglect their duties and exonerate themselves of any blames in the absence of concrete evidence to hold them accountable.
Not only does SweetProcess allow you to delegate tasks to team members, but you can also track their progress. You can see how they are engaging with their tasks. There is no hiding place for employees who would rather be lazy than get the job done.
SweetProcess is also good for collaboration. Multiple team members can work on tasks simultaneously, fast-tracking the turnaround time.
5. Creating a public or private knowledge base
The absence of a public or private knowledge base creates tribal knowledge in your organization. Some employees may be more competent than others because they are privy to some information. You might not feel the impact until the more competent employees are indisposed.
SweetProcess helps you to create a knowledge base, containing all the procedures for tasks in your business. When certain employees aren’t around to execute their tasks, their colleagues can stand in for them. All they have to do is to look up the procedures in SweetProcess and business will keep moving.
The US-based internet service provider Everywhere Wireless overcame the tribal knowledge that existed in its company for many years by implementing SweetProcess. Its vice president of innovation and culture company, Tom Vranas, revealed that the organization suffered whenever its more experienced employees left with all the knowledge they had. But all that changed as they created a “universal set of knowledge” for the company in SweetProcess.
We can go on and on about the benefits you stand to enjoy in your business by implementing SweetProcess. But wouldn’t you rather see things for yourself? Sign up for a 14-day free trial of SweetProcess and try it out. No credit card is required. If you aren’t sold on it at the end of your trial, you simply take a walk.
We are committed to helping you make an informed decision in choosing the right tool for your client intake form. Read all about the factors to consider in picking a tool in the next chapter.
So you finally adopt a tool to create your client intake form but soon realize that it falls short of your expectations. We understand how devastating that can be. You can avoid such disappointment with the right information.
Here are some factors to consider in picking the right tool for your client intake form.
Your client intake form needs to have room for your unique business needs so you need a tool that allows customization. If the tool isn’t flexible, there is a limit to what you can achieve with it.
Check out its customization features. Does it allow you to create multiple form fields? Can you create additional sections?
Suitability refers to the use of the tool in your field. A good way to find out about this is to inquire if businesses in your industry or niche use the software, and what their experience with it has been. With that information in mind, you are sure that you are in safe hands.
Ease is the watchword when it comes to the configuration of a client intake form. You should be able to create your form without hassle. Does it require advanced HTML skills? If the answer is yes, there isn’t much you can do without those skills. You are better off with a web-based form that simply requires you to add form fields.
You get the most of your client intake form when you can integrate it with other useful tools like an abandoned recovery form. Each tool integrated offers additional value that will help you know your prospects better and increase your conversion rate.
It goes without saying that pricing is a factor to consider in every purchase. You don’t want to break the bank to adopt an intake form on your website, but you also don’t want to end up with an ineffective tool just because it’s affordable. It helps to compare the value you are getting with the amount you are paying.
Having created your client intake form, you have to share it with prospects. There are two major ways to share your form—publicly and privately.
Sharing your intake form publicly requires you to upload it on your website. By doing so, more people will see and fill it out, giving you more leads.
But having more people fill out your form is no guarantee that they will convert. When you upload your form publicly on your website, there is a tendency for the form to be generic, lacking the capacity to collect specific information that you need about each client.
With limited information in your hands, you may not be well informed to decide whether a prospect is a right fit for you.
Sharing your intake form privately requires you to send it to the client or share a link to the form with the client privately.
A private form allows you to customize the form to your standard. Since the form isn’t displayed publicly, you can ask more specific questions about the project to get all the information that you need to make a well-informed decision about working with the prospect.
Customer satisfaction comes naturally when an organization and its clients are a perfect match. When your clients are satisfied with your services, you can rest assured that they won’t call you out on social media. Instead, they’ll sing your praises.
Not only will satisfied clients return to you for more work, but they’ll also be happy to recommend you to their friends, family, and anyone else in need of your services.
Make that your reality by creating an effective client intake form to build a good relationship with your clients from the beginning. Don’t forget to download our free Checklist for Creating an Effective Client Intake Form to walk you through the process.