The Ultimate Guide to Client Onboarding for Small Businesses

Client onboarding for small businesses

When a potential client shows interest in your service, chances are that they also  reached out at the same time to one of your competitors. So how could you show value quickly and set yourself apart from the competition in a remote world? 

It all comes down to how you make them feel during the intake phase.

A McKinsey study shows that poor onboarding, engagement, and customer service make up 52% of the reasons why customers leave in the first 90 days. 

You’ve only got one chance to make a first impression, that’s why client onboarding is the most crucial step in the customer journey. 

This is where you have to impress new clients and build trust as soon as possible. In this guide, we’re walking you through the steps you need to take to build a stellar client onboarding and win more clients for the long run. 

What is Client Onboarding?

Client onboarding is the process of welcoming clients into your business. With onboarding, you can explain to them your business, working conditions, and other important aspects of your business.  During the client onboarding phase, you and your team will also get to learn more about your client, their needs, their history and expectations.

In simple terms, client onboarding refers to anything that occurs between the time you close a deal or get a strong commitment from a new prospect and the time you begin working for the client.

Client onboarding is the perfect way to show new clients that partnering with you is one of the best decisions they could make.

What are the benefits of client onboarding?

Onboarding makes life easy for both you and your clients. Customers will understand the ins and outs of your business when you provide good client onboarding. It enables you to seamlessly guide clients through the process, instilling trust in your company.

According to experts, focusing on solutions during the initial engagement with clients may reduce churn by 67%. An effective, focused and streamlined onboarding can help you reach your goal of leaving a lasting first impression on your clients.

Other benefits of effective onboarding include:

You now realize the significance of onboarding new clients. But many businesses fail to ask the right questions, solve client issues, and implement the ideal onboarding practices. Clients are confused, and relationships are strained as a result.

The Confusion About Onboarding

Glassdoor report says good onboarding can improve employee retention by 82% and increase productivity by 70%. At the same time, another report states proper onboarding can increase customer retention by 5% and boost profits from 25-95%. However, many businesses get confused and mix up their onboarding processes. 

Some companies use the same onboarding methods for all their onboarding. It is critical to be clear about all types of onboarding to avoid any confusion and not ask your clients questions that you should be asking your employee.

Difference Between Client and Employee Onboarding

While onboarding an employee, you want to introduce your workflow and company system to the new hire.  During client onboarding, you want to introduce your product to a new client. 

Client onboarding has an impact on how new customers perceive your product and business, whereas employee onboarding has an impact on your internal operations. With appropriate employee onboarding, you should be able to seamlessly integrate a new hire into your company’s system.

Difference Between User and Client Onboarding

A user and a client are two distinct individuals. Most firms, however, consider them to be the same thing. A customer is someone who purchases your product, whereas a user is someone who uses it.

User onboarding is the process of communicating the features and benefits of your product to a user after they have purchased it. Client onboarding begins before the customer purchases the product when you show them what your product has to offer.

Your goal when onboarding a new customer is to increase conversion and retention rates while lowering churn. When you onboard a user, your goal is to increase the rate of product utilization.

Client onboarding for Brick-and-Mortar firms

Covid-19 compelled businesses to shift their focus from physical locations to online platforms. Many businesses, however, must operate in physical locations in some form, and other firms only operate in brick-and-mortar locations.

If you want to attract clients as a brick-and-mortar company, you can use conventional onboarding and invite them to your location. But, today or tomorrow your customers will turn away from you.

Companies that fail to optimize their onboarding process risk losing hard-to-get consumers in today’s competitive market. To achieve a competitive edge, physical infrastructures must find innovative ways to seamlessly and effectively onboard their clients.

KYC Client Onboarding for Financial Services

KYC onboarding is a hot topic in the market. People were apprehensive about whether online client onboarding would be effective for sensitive procedures such as KYC.  According to research, in the second quarter of 2020, 64% of main account opening checks in the United States were completed online.

In contrast to conventional onboarding, customers prefer online onboarding since it makes the entire process easier and more convenient. As a result, financial institutions turned to digital onboarding, with tools like e-signature and video KYC making client onboarding quick and easy for both clients and businesses.

Let’s move on to how to perform client onboarding for your firm now that we’ve cleared up the misunderstandings.

The Main Steps of Client Onboarding

Every individual customer that comes into contact with your company should be included in your client onboarding process. Client requirements vary, as do their expectations during the onboarding process. You must respond to their questions before they ask any. Each customer’s onboarding process may differ. The main steps of the onboarding process, however, remain the same.

Your onboarding procedures will vary depending on the services you provide, your business processes, and your clientele. Based on these principles, create the ideal onboarding procedure for your company. You must integrate the developed onboarding system into the company’s operations.

Step 1: Proposal, Contract, And Payment

A business proposal is a compilation of documents that you submit to your customers to offer them your product or services.

To avoid having to create a proposal for each new client, you should have one prepared ahead of time.

Send the customer your contract, which includes work guidelines, pricing, and billing information, once they have accepted your proposal.

Before you begin any work towards client order fulfillment, make sure you have a signed copy of the Offer letter or engagement letter. The legally binding agreement between both parties is the first checkpoint for any business engagement.

After you receive confirmation for the client’s payment, you can proceed to the next important step.

All of these processes may seem to be time-consuming, but with an advanced onboarding solution like Clustdoc, you can submit proposals, share client documents, obtain legally binding e-signature, and accept payments all on the same platform.

Payment with Clustdoc

Step 2: Send Out a Client Onboarding Questionnaire

Information is the key to your business customer relationship management process. You have to set up professional communication with the client that works smoothly for everyone involved in the project.

You need to develop a client onboarding questionnaire to understand their needs and expectations from the project. 

Ask them questions about their business structure and workflow, products, audience, and competitors. Leave no stone unturned to be fully prepared to understand the client’s goals. 

With Clustdoc, you can create advanced digital forms that will keep a record of all information, save time, allow you to easily share information with your team, and above all, leave a good impression on the clients.

Creating digital forms with Clustdoc

Step 3: Assign the Client and Start the Project

Assign a team to the client project when you’ve gathered all of the essential client information. Ascertain that the team and the client have a direct line of communication. Explain the entire project to your team, share the information you acquired, and stay updated on the project’s progress.

It’s time to get started on the project now that you’ve allocated the customer. Bring everyone involved in the project together on Clustdoc and share all the information without having to use any third-party app.

Step 4: Organize a Launch Meeting with Your Clients

The client kickoff meeting is a great way to start the project on the right foot. This meeting will help you build trust in the client and build a professional relationship with them. 

In the launch meeting, you can show gratitude to the clients for the business, share your business values, project goals and deliverables, next steps, and answer their questions.

You can schedule online meetings on Clustdoc and send automated emails and messages to follow up. 

Step 5: Welcome Your Clients with a Welcome Package

Make sure you provide a welcome package to your clients after the launch meeting to make them feel special. A welcome packet is a great approach to provide essential project information as well as company information.

You can send unique welcome messages, welcome videos, other clients’ client testimonials, case studies, and contact details.

You can send unique welcome messages, share videos, send direct messages, and track follow-ups all from the same platform with Clustdoc.

A welcoming gesture helps you build a positive professional relationship with the client.

Step 6: Give a Checkup Call to Your Client

Maintain contact with the customer and plan periodic checkup calls. You can follow up with a call a month after onboarding to ensure everything is running smoothly on their end.

A checkup call can help you figure out if the customer is happy with the progress thus far and spot errors early on. You can also ask the customer to share information they haven’t shared yet during a checkup call.

Step 7: Improve the Onboarding Process

You may make errors, but the crucial thing is to learn from them and go on.

Organize another client meeting once the onboarding process is completed to gather their comments on the onboarding and project thus far.

Inquire about onboarding and the project with the customer. To fix any shortcomings made throughout the onboarding process, try to gain their insights and experience with the process.

Clustdoc Form Builder may be used to get customer feedback and determine how they feel about the project.

Now you know how to set up a client onboarding process, but before you start creating one for your company, remember the pro tips to develop a superior onboarding process.

7 Client Onboarding Tips for Winning New Clients

How you start will set up the entire journey ahead. 

So, to help you start the right way, here are seven onboarding tips to help you create a successful onboarding system.

Tip 1: Personalize the Experience

To build a stable relationship, providing a personalized experience to your clients is the right way to go. Make sure your products and services are simple to comprehend for your customers. Break down the complex steps so that the onboarding process is easy to understand and a smooth experience for the client.

You can create a personalized onboarding experience with an automated client onboarding platform like Clustdoc. The platform allows you to send personalized welcome emails to the clients, schedule meetings, and share relevant information.

Book a meeting

Tip 2: Think in Systems

The best way to onboard a client is to offer them lifelong value and focus on giving them a one-of-a-kind experience. You should think about a client’s lifetime value while developing an onboarding process. With this approach, you’ll be able to create a system that aligns your company’s values with those of your customers.

Break down the onboarding process into systems and provide clear instructions on how to complete the process.

Consider your onboarding process as a system for establishing a long-term professional connection with your clients.

Tip 3: Educate new clients

When a new client enters your company, they may not fully comprehend your business. They’re only acquainted with what your sales team has informed them.

It’s critical to inform your customers about the value of your services. Content resources often assist clients in comprehending the characteristics and values of your product and organization.

Help clients understand your organization and services before you start a new business with them. They must be aware of the team that will be assisting them. They must also have a thorough awareness of the duties of the team members with whom they will be interacting.

Tip 4: Train Your Team

This is the most crucial aspect of not only your client onboarding but your business operation. Everyone should have a complete awareness of their roles and responsibilities in the team.

During onboarding, each team member should know their specific role at each stage of the onboarding. 

Team members must understand the workflow and the project and have clear communications with each other.

To minimize any confusion during the onboarding or project, explain the essential aspects of the project, their duties, and deadlines for different project phases to your team ahead of time.

You can delegate tasks to your team members and remain up to date on the status of the activities using Clustdoc.

Tip 5: Remove Roadblocks

To avoid any bottlenecks during the onboarding process, plan ahead and remove any roadblocks that may obstruct a smooth onboarding experience. Make sure everything is in order before you need it. Also, be aware of the needs of the onboard client and offer solutions to their concerns.

With our client onboarding checklist, you can smoothly transition your client from one onboarding stage to the next.

Tip 6: Track Progress and Improve

Don’t rely on the onboarding system to take care of everything. Following the implementation of the onboarding system, keep track of your client’s progress and resolve any difficulties to ensure a seamless onboarding. 

You can have a hands-off system, but if you don’t focus on effective client onboarding and customer satisfaction, the relationship will suffer.

If you see a bottleneck in the onboarding process, address it as soon as possible.

Clustdoc lets you keep track of clients and file submissions during the onboarding process. You can also send automated messages to guide them through the onboarding process and request pending files.

Tip 7: Rinse and Repeat

Restart the procedure for the new client, just like you did in your elementary chemistry experiments.

Learn from the mistakes made throughout the onboarding process, enhance the system, and prepare to make new ones.

Repeat until you’ve created the perfect onboarding system for your company.

Designing a new onboarding process takes a lot more than just knowing the steps and getting onboarding tips from an expert. You have to understand your customers and business process before designing a new system for your customers.

How to Design a New Digital Onboarding System for Your Business?

Understanding your customers is crucial for your business. How you onboard a customer depends on your business process and the customers you deal with in your daily business. You need to understand what your customers need and how you can provide value to them in today’s digital world.

Mapping Your Customer Process

It’s challenging to understand your customer’s thoughts. You must, however, understand and map the consumer journey to purchasing your products or services to design an onboarding system that offers value to them and exceeds their expectations.

To build an onboarding process tailored to your customer segment, you must first comprehend the client’s goals they are seeking to achieve with your product to ask them the appropriate questions.

You can develop an effective and efficient onboarding process for your customers by first knowing them.

Automate as Much as Possible

With traditional onboarding, the chances of making mistakes are higher. And these mistakes can jeopardize your customer onboarding process. 

With automated onboarding, the chances of mistakes are next to none. And once automated, you don’t have to keep doing the same tasks repeatedly. 

Your opportunity to make the best first impression is during client onboarding. By automating your onboarding process, you will be able to onboard clients as fast and effectively as possible, allowing you to get off to a good start.

You can guarantee that the essential step in your new relationship works smoothly and effectively by automating the most time-consuming components of client onboarding.

With Clustdoc, you can build an automated onboarding system saving time and resources and utilizing them to onboard more new clients.

Using the Right Client Onboarding System

When it comes to onboarding a new customer, you must give it your all and pay close attention to the processes. Remember that 82% of clients quit a company and go to a rival due to poor customer service. You don’t want your customers to leave because of an orthodox or complex onboarding process.

Clustdoc offers a modern, intuitive, and white-labeled onboarding application to help you provide your clients with the smoothest onboarding experience possible. Clustdoc has advanced features such as a digital form builder, simplified data collection, e-signature, and a secure platform, among others.

Clustdoc features

Communicating the Process to Users

Your users must understand your onboarding process. Guide through each onboarding step and place a robust customer service system to solve their queries as soon as possible. 

Users are the ones who utilize your product, and they must be able to do so without difficulty. If the onboarding process overwhelms them, they are more likely to quit it.

It is critical to have an onboarding system that educates clients about company operations.

Managing the client onboarding process

The business aspect of the client onboarding process should be easy for your team to manage. Your team members won’t need any extra training to manage the onboarding process because it’s easy to navigate and follow.

Client onboarding process

It is critical to have an onboarding system that educates clients about company operations.

Client onboarding Checklist for Your Company

Checklists are a game-changer when it comes to optimizing any business process. A systemized onboarding checklist avoids human error and gives a clear list of activities for your team to complete.

A thorough checklist will ensure that each client has the best onboarding experience possible, resulting in customer satisfaction.

Clustdoc offers a variety of onboarding checklists that you can use right away in your business and provide an exceptional customer experience to your clients.

Clustdoc template library

Share with us your thoughts regarding this client onboarding guide in the comment section.