Client Onboarding: Understanding Client Relationships for Long-Term Success

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Successful client onboarding across all industries shares similar underlying concepts. We’re hardly an expert on all industries, but with this guide, it should be a breeze to adapt the entire process to suit your particular sector. 

Here’s what you need to understand (before we get to the nitty-gritty):

1. Client onboarding is a relationship: you do not take your clients for granted, not unless you want a break-up. Forget the “first 90 days” stuff—you onboard your client at the sales stage (yes, acquisition is onboarding, and we’ll explain why later), and the onboarding process ends only if they leave.

2. There are four aspects of a client onboarding process you’ll want to consider:

  • Acquisition
  • Invoicing 
  • Personalization 
  • Communication & Nurturing

And all but the first one should be based on a single set of rules—same across all industries. We’ll explore those in detail in our article, illustrating with examples how to implement the concepts.

All that we are going to discuss can be done manually. However, that is not the best way to achieve business growth, even for a solopreneur. We don’t want to make this about ourselves, but SweetProcess does make the job easy—and with our no-credit-card-needed 14-day free trial, you can see for yourself how easy it is.

Client Onboarding Guide Chapter Index

Chapter 1: Acquisition

Chapter 2: Invoicing

Chapter 3: Exploring Client Psychology

· Buyer’s Remorse & Relationship Marketing

· The Kano Model

· Affective Commitment

· The Takeaway

Chapter 4: Personalization

· Establishing Connections

· Handwritten Notes

· Gifts

Chapter 5: Communication & Nurturing

· The Initial Stage

· The Kickoff Meeting

· The Welcome Kit

· The Check-Up Call

Chapter 6: How SweetProcess Can Help with Your Client Onboarding Process

Conclusion

Chapter 1: Acquisition

Your sales team makes the acquisition. But you need to ensure certain things are in place if you want a smooth transition to onboarding.

First, make sure your sales personnel do not promise more than what you can deliver. Now, why would they do so in the first place? We will rule out the probability that they are not well-trained. That leaves us with just one other reason they could prove over-enthusiastic: if they are paid commission per acquisition (irrespective of what happens at onboarding).

The best choice might be to offer incentives after the client is successfully onboarded. 

With the sordid stuff out of the way, which you may never even have to face, let’s say you need an excellent rapport between the sales team and the rest of your business.

And once the client is onboarded, you can, and should, overdeliver. That’s one of the time-tested methods of getting a client to stay. No, it isn’t foolproof, but it certainly would be foolish not to keep it as part of your overall strategy.

Hopefully, you see how client onboarding begins with acquisition and the key role your sales team plays in the entire process. Ignore this part, and you’re leaving clients on the table: weird visual, that. But you get what we mean.

The following section about getting paid is one of the most crucial parts of the onboarding process because it implies a commitment on the client’s part. You’d be wrong to see it as a consequence of successful onboarding. On the contrary, it is one of the steps in the process where you gained the client’s trust and made them feel safe in your company—and that is what onboarding is all about. 

Chapter 2: Invoicing

client onboarding process - invoicing

You want money for your services or product, and your client wants value for their investment. Let’s not lose sight of this simple equation. There’s no free lunch—discounted ones, perhaps, but not free. Beyond the acquisition stage, everything is consultation, and that cannot come for free. So, think about how to ensure you get paid for your efforts right at the initial stage of client onboarding. 

One point of view is that you send the proposal and the contract after acquisition and the invoice along with it to get paid, most likely in part.

However, there’s a better way to make your clients feel at home before you ask them to reach inside their pockets. You’ll want to minimize or eliminate possible buyer’s remorse: churn can occur at any point in the client onboarding journey.

We believe the most efficient method of getting this done is sending the client a list of questions between acquisition and sending the proposal and the contract, but definitely before you send the invoice. This list will always have two parts:

  • 1. General questions about what they expect and how you can make the experience of working with you profitable as well as pleasurable.
  • 2. Questions specific to their business.

Make sure they can answer the queries with a Yes or No or in a short sentence—don’t make the questionnaire an obstacle course.

The first part will be a template you’ve researched and created and will continue to refine, perhaps, but not change with every new client. And the second part will require you to do your homework about your client’s business and where they stand against their competitors.

Now, for argument’s sake, you may feel that even though this homework is necessary, it will still be a waste of time if the client leaves at this stage. We disagree.

When you make this homework—or investigation, shall we call it—an integral part of your onboarding process, you’ll become exceptionally skilled at identifying problems or areas that could do with significant improvement, even as an outsider looking in. And this will give you the confidence that all clients expect to see in an entity they have chosen to invest in.

How having a solid invoice plan helps:

If you haven’t guessed already, this makes you less of a faceless entity your client is risking their money on. If you do it right, they will feel better about their decision to work with you. Plus you will get to know them better. 

On the other hand, unlikely but always possible, this stage could identify problem areas with the client’s business or attitude you had not noticed earlier. For example, what do you do if they insist on skipping this step and going right into the project?

Not every situation is equal, but if a client is so eager to get to work that they will set aside an opportunity to make their expectations clear to you, then they may not have thought this through.

Or they may have tried to get the job done on their own, failed, and are now trying to use you to cut their losses. 

Either way, you could find yourself in the middle of chaos that nobody told you about once the project begins. You could be looking at a whole lot of work you never took into account because your client did not answer your questions. There’s no delicate way to put this across: don’t work for clients with no intention of offering fair payment for your services.

Ask around, and you’ll know how common this still is, unfortunately.

How much should a down payment be?

The actual amount depends upon your business model and the project at hand. However, it is not wise to begin work without some kind of down payment. This is true even if the client has been with you for years. What if something unfortunate happens that stalls the project? Go all out for someone you value, but don’t let your emotions dictate how you get paid. Follow the process that you have already put in place without a second thought.

There’s a 50 percent advance payment rule some small businesses follow. However, if the project value is very sizable, you cannot expect a client to pay half your bill when work has just begun. And neither should you risk accepting an exceptionally large amount initially because, God forbid, unfortunate things could happen at your end as well, and the last thing you’d want at that stage would be to face legal problems because you can neither refund the advance nor get the work done.

If you are handling a project that both you and your client agree is of a “small” value, it is good business sense to ask for a 50 percent advance upfront. It is all about being sensible.

But what if your client seems to think that paying you 50 percent of, say, a million dollars would be risking too much given that the project hasn’t even begun? You will have to respect their apprehensions.

Likewise, if you feel uneasy about accepting $50,000 in advance (just if something goes wrong with the project), you should pay heed to your apprehensions even if the client trusts you and is more than willing to make the payment.

This is where milestone payments come in. You and your client mutually agree upon partial payments as the work progresses stage by stage, but only after an initial deposit has been made before work begins. 

How much initial deposit should you ask for? It depends upon how you have planned the different stages of the project. At the very minimum, it should be an amount that will at least cover your costs for the first stage, even if it doesn’t bring in any profit.

Doing this doesn’t mean you are charging less than what was agreed upon for the entire project. It just means that you are charging a relatively minor amount, to begin with, to make things comfortable for both parties.

Do not work for free, ever, no matter what.

Chapter 3: Exploring Client Psychology

client onboarding process - exploring client psychology

In truth, everything in this article is based on common sense. However, it helps if there is something concrete, well-established, and trusted that could validate that admittedly subjective point of view. We will refer briefly to three such trusted sources in this section.

Buyer’s Remorse & Relationship Marketing

If someone has already decided to work with you, why would you need to keep proving your worth repeatedly? Because there’s something called buyer’s remorse which keeps creeping in, and if it becomes overwhelming enough, there’s nothing to stop your client from reconsidering their decision (to work with you), especially in the early stages when you’ve not had a chance to show them how good you are at what you do. 

Incidentally, buyer’s remorse does not necessarily imply payment. A contract (with zero invoicing) is a commitment that is tantamount to buying—which the client may start having second thoughts about for whatever reason. 

Being in two minds or simply having regrets (about a purchase decision in our context) is academically referred to as “cognitive dissonance.” 

Relationship marketing is explained as: 

“… a form of marketing developed from direct response marketing campaigns that emphasize customer retention and satisfaction rather than sales transactions. It differentiates from other forms of marketing in that it recognizes the long-term value of customer relationships and extends communication beyond intrusive advertising and sales promotional messages.”

Please consider the following extract on the practical implications of research on cognitive dissonance and relationship marketing.

“The results show that when brands and retailers make their ties with their customers stronger and encourage trust, they can discourage cognitive dissonance in the post-purchase stage and thereby encourage customer satisfaction and behavioral and attitudinal loyalty.”

In plain terms, if you have connected to your customers/clients to the extent that they trust you, they are more likely to remain loyal to you. Please note the obvious emotional connotation implicit in “connection” and “trust.” More on this in the following sections.

The Kano Model

client onboarding process - the kano model
client onboarding process - the kano model 2

Dr. Noriaki Kano created this model in the 1980s for quality management and customer satisfaction. It continues to make sense. The basic theory being:

  • The customer/user/client expects certain attributes (the must-haves/threshold) in a product/service which do not enhance satisfaction but would undoubtedly be a deal-breaker if such attributes were not present (e.g., a reasonably good camera in a smartphone).
  • They are happy in proportion to the availability of certain other attributes (performance): the more you provide, the happier they are (e.g., battery performance and fast charge features in a smartphone).
  • But you win your customer over when you provide, in addition to the attributes mentioned above, bonus features (delighters) which they did not expect (e.g., in the smartphone context, again, a cordless charger/truly scratch-proof glass/free phone case/foldable screen, etc.).

For our purpose, we’ll summarize and adapt the Kano model to the context of client onboarding. We have listed our observations as it suits our context, not in strict correlation with the Kano tenets we have noted earlier:

  • Your client will be happy when you do your job, but they expect you to do it. Unless you surpass their expectations, you do not stand out from your competition.
  • Similarly, your clients will not be impressed that you communicate well. But they would certainly be frustrated if you did not. (Also, certain things may be pleasant but don’t matter either way—like serving good coffee at every meeting, perhaps?)
  • However, add-ons would delight the customer, increasing their overall satisfaction—pleasant surprises that amount to business gains. Unexpected cost savings or project completion before the deadline, for example. And, yes, exceptional communication skills that make them feel at ease at all times. 

The problem is, when onboarding a client, you are not typically in a position to offer cost savings or early project completion. Yes, you may submit ideas or proposals that promise to do both, but ideas alone are not good enough to prevent churn when we are talking investment and ROI. We’ll explore the solution(s) to this in the next section.

And in case you’re interested (you should be) in knowing more about the Kano model and its application in diverse contexts, do read this excellent article sometime. 

Affective Commitment

There have been studies in industrial marketing management that try to find the key to customer acquisition and retention. One such study—both exciting and relevant because it explores the client’s perspective—states:

“Commitment is one of the most frequently studied variables in business-to-business relationships, and several researchers propose it is the main antecedent of customer loyalty…This study examines commitment from the customer’s perspective, consisting of three components: calculative, affective, and normative… The results of the model…show that affective commitment is the only one of the three components that significantly influence customer loyalty.”

The word “affective,” as you probably know, refers to mood, feelings—emotions in general. To summarize the quote in layperson’s terms: If you can get the client to commit to you, not only because you’re giving them a good deal but because you also make them feel good, they will remain loyal to you.

And now you can probably guess why we’ve been drawing your attention to the word “feel” for a while now. The client will be applying their intellect and then estimating profit and loss. It should be your job to appeal to their emotions as well.

The Takeaway

To summarize all that we have learned so far:

For a successful client onboarding which also implies retention, you need to make the client feel good about being with you.

The way to make the client feel good is through the delights that increase their satisfaction. This is not a one-time event: you must keep working at it throughout the client’s stay with you.

For further clarity, this means that even though a delight, like cost saving, is profit, “lucrative” or “profitable” are not words appropriate in this context. Someone else could bring in more profit or make a more lucrative offer. The client needs to feel reassured that you are as much of a friend to them as a business entity can be and that you have their best interests at heart. And that’s where the (profitable) delights are coming from.

Yes, it sounds kind of cloying, so tone it down to bearable proportions! But the fact remains that while you may keep shopping for better deals, you never discard your friends to look for better friends, right? Similarly, once the client understands that you care, once they become emotionally responsive to your genuine intent, everything else remaining constant, they will choose to stay with you.

Like we mentioned earlier, this article relies heavily on common sense. Nevertheless, it is reassuring to have at least three trusted resources validate our stand. Speaking of reassurance, it is something we’ll be talking about a lot in the following sections.

As for how you can implement all that we have learned so far: we cannot do that with fancy charts and infographics; nothing short of a lengthy conversation can explain the specific situations and particular steps in detail. That is what we will do in the next section on personalization.

Chapter 4: Personalization

client onboarding process - personalization & gifrs

To be clear, personalization should be there all through the onboarding process, which, as we have noted earlier, is for as long as the client remains with you. So this section is not a particular stage in the process. Instead, we talk briefly about how to go about personalizing without overwhelming the client.

The specific stages will be dealt with individually in the next chapter since they are more about overall communication skills. 

Okay, so the questionnaire that you sent them was the beginning. They could see you’ve researched them. This ought to have created a very different impression from how they would have felt had you expected them to tell you all about themselves. 

Now, when the first invoice is cleared, and the contract signed, and you both know you are on your way to completing a project together, your job is to preempt the client from having buyer’s remorse.

Why do we keep harping on this? Because you haven’t yet had the opportunity to show the client what you’re capable of. You either impress with your intent or with your work. Right now, intent is all you have, so you’d be well-advised to make the best use of it. We’ll explore this in detail in the next chapter as soon as we talk just a little about how you can personalize the client’s experience to reap maximum benefits.

Establishing Connections

This is the simplest of all personalization methods you can attempt: ask your client how frequently they would like to be updated and at what hours. Assign a dedicated team (which could very well consist of a single, knowledgeable individual) to get their feedback.

If it is feasible, assign at least another individual to serve as the contact person when your client does not know whom to get in touch with. This adds a welcome touch to the entire process and makes your client feel important, as nobody likes to be funneled through a chatbot or support team.

Unfortunately, even with detailed feedback, there could be room for error. A key person in the client’s team could suddenly feel that nothing short of hourly updates (when daily may have been decided upon) would get them their money’s worth. Others might eventually start feeling annoyed if you keep sending updates every other day.

Thankfully, there’s one solution that always works: give them a choice. 

The most effective way of doing this is by providing them with some form of live update, which they can access whenever they want. A content writer might share the Google Doc link with their client. Most web-hosting providers display live uptime server status data 24/7 with a refresh range between 15 minutes and 60 seconds. You’ll want to brainstorm what your live update should look like.

If you absolutely can’t figure out what to do, merely sharing IP camera feeds overlooking your work environment with your clients should make them feel reassured.

But wait, are you going to ask them what they want or offer them a choice? Both. Give them what they want (within reason, without looking like a pushover), and then surprise them with the live feed. Being pleasantly surprised is a good feeling.

Handwritten Notes

This is possible through specialized services, but you’ll want to be discerning. While it does add a nice touch to the exterior of an envelope, most people would prefer to read regular printed fonts when they are expecting a project update.

Similarly, an invitation to the next meeting looks good when handwritten, but you will want to list the agenda and other details in a standard font.

Think about how people who work in the fashion industry would feel about receiving a cut-and-dried and typed-in-standard-fonts invitation (hint: they probably wouldn’t jump with joy).

And consider if clients in tech fields would have the time or patience for the subtle aesthetics that a handwritten note offers and if they wouldn’t, perhaps, prefer a simple email instead.

We are trying to say: go easy with the fancy stuff but use it strategically to create a good impression. Just remember not to get carried away.

Gifts 

Some believe that T-shirts, coffee mugs, and the like with your logo on them are a nice touch at some stage of onboarding. But this is going to be strictly your call. Not everyone wants to be pampered, and many people can think of this as clutter too. Too many gifts can make some clients question your motivation and wonder if you are trying to compensate for something. 

If you pin us down on this, we’ll say stick to what we have emphasized so far: provide utility at every turn along with genuineness. If you must send gifts, send something that reminds them of their project and makes them feel good. Make it relevant, not another stock mug.

If it is possible to visualize a logo for the project (or if your client already has one), you could send a functional 3D print (stylish keychains), or related objects inscribed with their team members’ names along with your logo—something elegant and functional.

Speaking of pen holders—pens are as timeless and classy as they come and do not need to be related to anything. Make them personalized fountain pens, and you got yourself a winner. Just don’t forget to include the ink bottle—also personalized. Oh, and add an elegant diary with the owner’s name inscribed… and leave us a comment about your success story!

There’s no need to go on and on about personalization—especially since our focus will always remain on creating good feelings. Personalization is a tool that can come in the form of a note, a memento, a good handshake, a particular tone of voice—along with dedicated and functional teams that make the client feel comfortable. As long as you can grasp the underlying concepts, you should have no problem personalizing.

Also, when you send a gift is at least as important as what you send. Would you feel comfortable about receiving gifts randomly? From an old friend, probably. But from a business associate?

So, is there a rule of thumb in this case?

Consider sending a token only when a major step has been taken (the kickoff, perhaps?) or a major milestone has been crossed in the project. In short, when there is something to celebrate. But even then, not every single time, please!

That package we mentioned earlier lists several options for services that help you with choosing gifts, customizing them, and delivering them. We have listed the usual services where you visit, select, customize and send. And there are a couple of specialized options (including an AI-powered one) that should come in handy if gifts and tokens form a significant part of your client onboarding process.

Chapter 5: Communication & Nurturing

client onboarding procss - communication and nurtiring

If you’re wondering: no, we are not trying to put on an air of uniqueness. All communication post-acquisition is nurturing, but communication as a standalone concept must be understood clearly, hence the somewhat unusual subheading.

Read that again, please:

All communication post-acquisition is nurturing.

This should not require additional explanation so let’s sum up what we’ve covered so far.

  • The client is acquired via sales strategies that promise only what you can deliver.
  • You are aware the client could change their mind and leave.
  • You are trying your best to make sure that does not happen.
  • Upon project completion, you’ll want to retain the client.
  • You will be trying your best to make sure that does happen. 

Not sure how you see this, but it looks to us like you’re trying your best to nurture your relationship with your client—to prevent churn initially and then to retain them indefinitely.

And how are you likely to achieve success in each case? Getting the job done ahead of time and all that is great. But (what we said about the Kano model notwithstanding), any successful business ought to put in that bit of extra effort and overdeliver if they want to beat their competitors. So, how else are you trying your best? By communicating, of course. By being damn good at communication so that you remain a valuable and dependable ally and not a loquacious annoyance.

The Initial Stage

You will need to assign the client an appropriate team and talk to them in as specific terms as possible about the project. This would include project summary, expected timeline and completion date, any advice or recommendation you may have for the client, and any requirement you may have of them. This part is easy because we expect you’ll know your job. The client now knows this too and probably feels reassured. You need to reinforce that feeling next, in the kickoff meeting.

The Kickoff Meeting

This is where you sit down with the client—in person, if possible—and if you’ve done your job right, everyone should be excited. Because by now, the project is well-defined and all but on its way. 

It is an excellent occasion to bring up some additional, even uncomfortable, questions, but first, a welcome video would be a good idea. Just remember that you want the video to showcase your value for the client, not just showcase what you think your value is.

To clarify, we have seen several welcome videos that are nothing but slapstick presentations of the business and its key persons. Amusing as that may be for the internal staff who happen to know each other, it might be a waste of time for the client. On the other hand, the Basecamp video is completely functional and provides both a client and a prospect with a very clear idea about how things work.

Here’s an idea: with the immense digital resources we have today, why not create a simulation of the project that sums up all that you have previously talked about and gives a clear visual of the timeline and how things are expected to look once they reach completion? Keep it brief and to the point, and introduce the key personnel responsible for each stage of the project.

Additionally, you could provide the client with a leaflet (both virtual and printed) that supplements the video and lists the key personnel and their contact details. 

If you wish to use online resources for the welcome video, Wyzowl and Powtoon are good options.

The Most Important Uncomfortable Question

It is usual for everyone to feel reassured if they know whom to contact should they need something or if things were to go wrong. You do keep your cable guy’s number handy. Or the plumber’s? Not to mention the family physician’s? When you’re doing business, these basic things do not change. After you’ve made your client comfortable by throwing the lines of communication open and keeping them clearly defined, they would be more receptive to uncomfortable but not unexpected queries.

And the most important of such queries would be: 

What happens in case of a scope creep?

Now, that is an entire subject all on its own. We cannot provide ready-made solutions here. But just in case you’re unsure if scope creep applies to your particular business, take a good look around. Did you expect the world to turn out the way it has since the pandemic hit us? Consider the following:

  • Projects are often taking longer to complete because not all workers are used to working from home.
  • Lack of in-person meetings makes communication difficult for people not used to web conferences.
  • Educating everyone to work with cloud-based resources is an added expense, both in time and money.
  • With the pandemic wreaking havoc worldwide, some projects may not have remained viable (think about the film industry, for example).
  • With changing circumstances, expenses change (how much extra money are you spending on sanitizers these days?), and that directly influences ongoing projects and sometimes stalls the ones that were about to take off.  

Anyhow, the point we’re trying to make is that you do not randomly bring up such questions. You make them feel comfortable (and receptive) first.

And when the issue is raised, you provide the most sensible of solutions and wait for the client to acquiesce. Or offer their own (sensible) recommendations, and have a friendly discussion on that. This could require a new questionnaire that addresses the changes that have come up. You might want to reassess the entire project and see if you can modify things to everyone’s satisfaction. Do what it takes, and treat it as part of the onboarding journey—because it is. 

Things like scope creep should not come as a surprise for most clients. However, it is the solution that can become the problem if both parties are not equally satisfied with it. 

In a relationship where both parties are looking out for their own interests at the end of the day, the client will always be wondering after any negotiation if they got a good deal. You don’t want a client agreeing to a scope creep solution to do it grudgingly. And the only way to tide over this situation is to take extra care of your client both before and after.

To be clear, we are not asking you to go out of your way every time. Just focus on communicating to the client at select intervals that you are in this together. A subtle feeling of bonhomie will go a long way toward cementing a long-term relationship. 

The Welcome Kit

Hopefully, you see a pattern starting to emerge: 

  • Ask questions > Gain trust> Sign contract > Get paid.
  • Meet client > Show something concrete > Create communication channels > Gain trust.
  • Ask more questions > Come to a resolution > Send welcome kit > Reinforce relationship.

And so on. 

Every time you get your client to commit to something, put in a bit of effort to make them feel a little more at home.

Please note that this is not the same as “rewarding” someone for something. You will lose the feel-good factor if you start thinking in terms of material value and quid pro quo: you might find yourself getting salesy and manipulative. Make a friendly gesture that also adds value, and you’ll be all right.

Make this a priority until your work begins to speak for itself. But don’t ever give up on it entirely—clients are human, and most human beings want to feel special, at least occasionally.

But let’s get to the welcome kit—finally!

As with the welcome video, the welcome kit must provide value to the client and make them feel reassured that they are in good hands. Some kind of educational material on the project is a popular choice. With that in mind, you could design a series of well-designed booklets nicely packaged in a file with your brand on it; each booklet should outline your work in terms the client can understand each stage of the project. The entire package should serve as a ready reckoner of sorts. 

Along with that, if you have successfully completed similar projects before, you could also place stories and testimonials strategically along the way.

For example, in leaflet #2 describing the second stage of the project, you could insert something along the lines of “Client ABC had expected the cost to be X and the date of completion to be Y, but using our proprietary methods, we brought down the cost by 9% and managed to beat the deadline by five days.”

Please note, however, that too many cost-saving and deadline-beating stories (even when they are true) can give rise to unreal expectations. Showcase your strengths, strengthen your position, position your work process as reliable, and resist the urge to boast too much of past successes.

Should you include case studies?

It would be natural to assume that case studies of similar projects will reinforce the client’s faith. We kind of agree. But as we have been saying, other than (hopefully) fulfilling the objective of reinforcing faith in you, what exactly does a case study do? It showcases how good you are. Well, your client probably already knows how good you are, which is why they have invested in you. Are you sure you want to bombard them with more of your bio-data? 

This is why we specifically mentioned stories and testimonials. They are brief, they don’t read like a page out of a technical manual (‘each leaflet should outline in terms the client can understand each stage of the project’—remember?), and they make you look good, especially when placed strategically in a narrative (the content of the leaflet).

The Check-Up Call

Typically, thirty days after having sent the welcome kit, arrange a check-up (or follow-up) call. At this time, you no longer need any package or kit or video—your work should speak for itself.

Strictly speaking, this call is less about the client and more about yourself. You need to check if you’re still on the same page with the client. You need to understand if there were any resources that they didn’t trust you with earlier but are now willing to share. You need to tell them everything is going right and ask them if they have any queries or complaints. 

This is more of a self-assessment that automatically serves the purpose of communicating to your client that you are as serious about getting the job done as you were about accepting payment. And it allows you to streamline your work process further if that is possible.

Please note that you should arrange the check-up call beforehand. It is going to be more of a meeting than a call, really. Things will go smoothly if you remember that bit about self-assessment. When you sincerely try to assess yourself and make things better, your client will feel the positive vibes. No leaflet or video will be necessary.

Chapter 6: How SweetProcess Can Help with Your Client Onboarding Process

How you work is up to you, but it is a safe bet that you, like any other sensible business entity, will prefer a no-clutter, easy-communication environment where you can work with your entire team with various levels of permissions. You get all of that and more when you work with us. Ask Network Doctor how they streamlined their business processes from utter chaos to complete customer satisfaction.

How to begin onboarding a client with SweetProcess

For any project expected to be repetitive (you’ll keep getting new clients, right?), it is helpful to have a knowledge base. It’ll allow you to be on the same page with your client and your entire team at all times, so create one if you haven’t already.

Sign up for the FREE 14-day trial (no credit card required). Then start here:

client onboarding process - creating a knowledge base 1

Click “Continue.” Easy as that. And then organize and populate it: 

client onboarding process - creating a knowledge base 2

As you can see, you can set necessary permissions, ask for feedback, assign URLs, and, of course, create sections, category- and article-wise (which are automatically sorted alphabetically) to supplement the meetings you will have had with your team members regarding a specific client onboarding process.

If you’re wondering how much a knowledge base can help you, read about how Tamer Inc. created their “company’s Google” with SweetProcess to empower their employees and initiated massive growth.

Next, you can create a standard operating procedure for the client onboarding process as a whole, as well as specific subcategories for each unique client that you onboard. 

The SOP will help you and your team stay organized at all times, and the specific client subcategory will contain whatever is unique to the particular client you are newly onboarding. And you will be able to see how the overall process is progressing and communicate with your team members at all times to rule out possible miscommunication (or missed communication!).

Here’s another screenshot to demonstrate how you can define every step by creating the steps quite literally.

client onboarding process - creating a knowledge base 3

Create a procedure, name it “Personalization,” say, and explain each step. You can add images and videos if necessary. You can also edit and annotate the images. Just click. 

No, seriously, just click, and go about creating whatever. Gingko Residential completely changed how they worked (and made for massively improved work efficiency) when they shifted from PDF to SweetProcess Business Process Documentation

If something needs further clarification at any stage of your work, we have an extensive help section (which has its knowledge bases) you’ll find very useful. And, of course, we are always there for you to reach out to—for absolutely any reason at all. 

This section would become a separate article if we kept going on how much we have to offer. Have other tools you like? Integrate them with the SweetProcess API or with Zapier. Spotted an error? Roll back to the previous version. Need to keep your policies and procedures up-to-date? Set reminders. We got you covered, as our customers will be happy to confirm. 

Conclusion

We figure it might help you if we summarized all of that in fewer than five sentences. Here goes:

  1. Client onboarding is a process that continues for as long as the client is with you—or for as long as you want to retain them.
  2. Both common sense and researched evidence indicate that emotional rapport is the key element that leads to customer retention and, by implication, a successful client onboarding. 
  3. Therefore, if you can get the client to see past the standard give-and-take relationship, you will be able to connect with their emotions.
  4. And the most effective way to do this is to be genuinely interested in the project and figure out the best ways to communicate that to the client to make them feel comfortable with you.

We’d love you to let us know in the comments if you found this article useful or if we can make it better. 

Take advantage of the 14-day free trial here at SweetProcess. No credit card, no-questions-asked, 30-day money-back guarantee in case you decide to buy, plus a free consultation with the refund if you choose to cancel.

And here is the list of all sorts of tools, again, to make your life easier while client onboarding—and while running your business in general. Just let us know where to send it.

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