Now that your new client has signed a contract and paid the retainer for your services, she or he may be wondering, “What’s next?” Don’t leave them in the dark — Have a good onboarding process in place to kick off your service with your new client right away.
First things first — What is “Client Onboarding?” Client Onboarding is the process a business should have in place to welcome new clients, reacquaint them with the services they booked, set expectations and reiterate the game plan for delivering the services. — this includes key dates and milestones. Your onboarding process should set the tone for the care and feeding of your client.
- Make Sure Your Team and Your Processes Are in Place. Before you can begin your journey with your new client, make sure you have your team members in place to service the client soon after the contract is signed. This includes everyone who will have an interaction or impact on the client within the first 30 to 60 days. The templates and systems you have in place should be ready before you begin. This includes the set up of your database, calendar appointments, tax forms and your project management software. (Tip:Your team and systems really should be in place BEFORE you book your client. If you don’t have them in place beforehand, this step shouldn’t take more than a few days.)
- Send a Warm Welcome. After your client signs the contract and pays the retainer, send him or her a warm welcome to your company. We send an e-mail within 12 hours after a new client hires us — The subject line says, “Welcome to the Howerton+Wooten Events Family!” The first paragraph of this e-mail welcomes our client and thanks them for trusting us. The rest of the e-mail includes a reminder about our office hours and our communications policy. It also includes the name, contact information and biography of the team member(s) assigned to the project/wedding/event. The e-mail closes with a break down of the next steps. <— This typically includes the date and time for the “Kick-Off” with the client.
- Host a Kick-Off. To springboard your project, I strongly encourage you to host a kick-off discussion with your new client. We typically hold our Kick-Off meetings in person, but I have found that these events are just as effective via Zoom. Our kick-off meetings allow us to set the tone, discuss the budget, review our calendar with our client, and discuss the project planning timeline — this includes key dates and milestones. And lastly, it allows us an opportunity to remind our client how excited to get started.
- Surprise Them with a Little Love. Everyone loves a fun surprise in the mail! So, we always ship something fun to our new clients immediately after the kick-off. Our surprise typically includes a tote bag filled with branded gifts, a book that is specific to the service we are providing, a ziplock filled with helpful office products, a laminated card with our contact information, and a fun seasonal gift.
- Tutorial Appointments. We want to ensure our clients don’t start the project feeling lost because of the technology, so we host tutorial “one-on-ones” to walk them through the software we are using for their project, and to showcase the resources available for them on our web site.
- Give Them Some Homework. As a consultant or creative, you should be in the drivers seat. So, your homework should include the first steps your client should be taking to begin their work on the project. It’s not just about the first step — If your service requires you to collect information from your client, send them a form or a survey that allows them to start collecting the information in advance or as they go. Your client is looking to you for guidance, so giving them homework makes them feel like they are already heading in the right direction.
- Schedule Milestone Celebrations. Most of our company’s services involve a project that lasts 6 months to a year, so we plan small celebrations to highlight each client’s progress. It reminds them that the process we put in place is working and it’s an easy way to bring a little joy to the project.
And, in the end, that client of yours is reminded of the wise decision they made to hire such an awesome service provider.
Love and Soul Always, Kawania
Photo: Natarsha Wright Photography