Congratulations, you got a new client!
Now you have a choice.
You can perform the service and move on with your life, fee in hand. Easy enough.
Or, you can take it one step further and create a lasting relationship by turning a one-time customer into a raving fan who does marketing on your behalf by shouting your name to the rooftops.
That second option sounds pretty good, right?
Before you welcome your next client to your business, it’s a great idea to create a client onboarding process. Having the right process in place saves you time, gets your client up to speed, and provides important information that will start you off on the path toward working together effectively.
What is client onboarding?
At a high level, client onboarding is the process you use to welcome in each new client in a consistent, stream-lined way. The goal of this process is to ensure that your client has the best first experience possible.
More specifically, it’s the systems you put in place, so that everyone involved has the right information, feels informed, and gets the support they need when they need it (including you, the service provider).
Two major benefits come from enthusiastic, “can’t wait to tell all their friends” clients.
The first is lifetime value, or how much money they’ll spend with you over time. If they’re really happy with you and your results, why wouldn’t they want more? Satisfied clients will come back again and again, and be comfortable hiring you when they feel like they’re getting a great value.
In fact, according to master marketer Neil Patel, “Onboarding is where we have the most control over how the relationship will unfold in the long run. If you can strike the right tone from the get-go, I’ve found that people will stick around for more.”
The second benefit is referrals, or how many people each client will bring to you. The better their experience, the more likely they are to gush about you to their friends, family, hair stylists, Instagram followers, etc.
Investing time and energy in creating a smooth and enjoyable onboarding experience goes a long way toward fostering a (personally and financially) rewarding relationship.
Client onboarding and management in five simple steps
Five steps might seem like a lot of work, but trust us, it’ll save you time and money in the end — not to mention the stress of confused or unhappy clients. Avoid common mistakes, and plan ahead to create an awesome client onboarding process!
1. Welcoming a new client
As part of your welcome, make a point to thank new clients. This shows that you appreciate their business and are thrilled to work with them.
Create a clear path forward. Let them know very clearly what they need to do next. These simple acts help you keep your clients from becoming overwhelmed. Instead, remind them of why they chose you, congratulate them for making the investment in themselves, and keep that excitement going.
2. Communicate before the service begins
You need some information before you can move forward. Start by creating an email template or form with all the critical questions. Again, keep things simple, and keep your client excited. Make it easy for them.
Manage expectations by keeping your payment terms, limitations, and service guarantees clear. If you find yourself getting the same questions over and over, that’s valuable information. It means something isn’t being communicated as efficiently as it could be.
If there’s anything else that your customer will need to do before you meet, make that clear as well. Do they need to have any supplies on hand, information, space in their home? Be sure to make these needs obvious —not buried in the middle of an email they’ll skim — and give a friendly reminder or two.
At the end of the day, we’re all busy so the clearer you can be, the better!!
3. Service checklist
Take some time to think about everything that needs to happen during your time together, and create a physical checklist.
What to include on your checklist:
- Welcome and overview of what will happen during your time together. This puts your client at ease, and allows for questions.
- Identifying any customer preferences. If you’re organizing a closet, you’ve already talked about the big stuff: where everything’s going to go, and why. Now’s a good time to get into the nitty-gritty.
- All parts of service, in an order that makes sense. Walk through the service in your mind, and write down all the steps, even the obvious ones. Does each step have to be in that order? Does that work for every client, or will it need to be adjusted and personalized?
- How will you close the service? We all know what it feels like to leave the bank after dealing with a grumpy teller, versus leaving lunch with a friend after a big hug. How can you create a warm feeling that makes the rest of their day better?
- Any cleanup or security procedures. If you need to lock up or clean-up, write down everything you need. Security codes? Cleaning supplies?
Be sure to have a copy of your checklist handy to refer back to as needed.
4. 24-Hour Follow-Up
You performed the service (great work!), but your job isn’t quite done yet. Cap off your time together by sending a quick thank-you note, and tell them if there is anything else they need to know to get the most out of the service they received?
The right follow-up can mean repeat customers!
- Ask to schedule another appointment, if appropriate.
- Give them a personalized offer for more, bigger, or different services, or a promotion for referrals.
- Ask for a testimonial or review. Give a call if you can, with pen and paper in hand, ready to take notes and to take all feedback, good or bad.
- Help them stay in touch by inviting them to join you on Facebook or join your email list.
5. 30-Day Follow-Up
This is an easy step to skip, but it’s so crucial to winning long-term clients.
30 days after your service, check- in with your client to see how they’re doing. Not only does it show that you care, but it also deepens your relationship and keeps you top-of-mind.
Remember, it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to keep a current customer. Give your client a personalized offer to work with you again, or a special discount to offer their friends.. Building relationships is really important to building a strong referral base so keep the door open and make deeper connections whenever possible.
#1SimpleAct: Keep Going
Your client onboarding and management process is always going to change and shift with your business. Start simple, and make improvements over time. You should add in automation where appropriate to save time, but keep some personal touches as well.
Did you know that happy customers spend WAY more money? 140% more, in fact! Level up your customer experience when you join our Wow More Customers Pathway. We’ll get you started with email templates, and you’ll work in small groups to create and refine systems to turn your clients into cheerleaders.