You’ve got a solid product, and the sales and marketing departments have done what they do best: bring in new business. However, confidence is wavering, and the leadership team is starting to sweat. They’ve seen it before: a solid sale and an excellent new client, but an onboarding process that has gone wrong for one reason or another.
The cause of these issues is difficult to pin down, as it could be related to subpar execution, poor alignment with the client team, the client’s fluctuating availability, requirements that drag out the project’s scope, and onboarding staff hopping between multiple implementation projects — just to name a few. To make matters worse, the spreadsheet tracking the onboarding progress has not been touched in days.
Fortunately, you can avoid this scenario and achieve more successful onboarding (and less churn) by following these 6 surefire ways to improve your client onboarding experience!
1. Start with the Metrics
Metrics can help you examine the big picture and pinpoint pain areas and major culprits of poor onboarding. Here are some important metrics to consider:
- Backlog - The backlog is the time between signing the contract and starting the onboarding. If your backlog is getting longer, it’s time to review your onboarding team, process, and capacity to take on new clients.
- Onboarding Project Timespan - This metric is the time between the start and completion of the onboarding project. As with the backlog, check in on the team capacity and potential customer scope creep if you see this metric getting larger.
- Onboarding Completion Rate - You are losing money if this metric is anything less than 100%. It takes tremendous effort and resources to bring in new customers. Having them drop out of the onboarding process early should be front and center with every member of the client onboarding team and your leadership.
Be sure to dig into these metrics and check out additional KPIs to track for an even more in-depth understanding of potential barriers within your onboarding procedure.
2. Align With the Client At the Start of the Onboarding Project
Making sure you’re on the same page as the client from day one is vital. If you fail to align your onboarding process with the client's goals, you will start moving in the wrong direction and be forced to start over when the client shows their dissatisfaction. So, make sure to run through this checklist before you start onboarding a new client:
- Take the time to confirm the scope and timeline of the project.
- Identify and confirm stakeholders (including contact info).
- Confirm that all of the necessary information has been received from the client.
- Get on the same page concerning working dynamics; try scheduling a weekly status call from the start.
- Discuss goals and success definitions upfront.
- Share and agree on the project roadmap and all key milestones in the process.
- Ensure that documented and consistent processes across the onboarding team align with the project roadmap; this should make it into the new employee training manuals and be a standard modus operandi for the team.
Consult our guide on change management and client alignment to understand how to align your goals with your client's goals successfully.
3. Establish and Adhere to the Communications Protocol
Your communications protocol dictates how and when you exchange key information and metrics with the client. Here are a few tips to ensure you get the most out of every meeting:
- Set up and follow regular touchpoints with the client.
- Be consistent. This means no skipped meetings, as you should always meet to secure continued client engagement and participation.
- Ensure that the client is an active part of the process throughout. Any deviation from the timeline and/or scope should be noted and discussed. Yes, it’s very likely that as the customer discovers a new solution, some adjustments will happen — anticipate and work with them, but do not allow them to drive the project forward.
- Maintain a clear channel of communication. Who is the main point of contact? Is everyone in the loop about where the project is? When will staff or clients be taking time off?
- Make sure the client knows where the project is at all times.
- Empower the client to engage when it is convenient for them. However, you should be very careful about opening up synchronous communications. It may sound great to have the client pick up the phone or connect via online chat at any time, but this means your onboarding staff will go into an indefinite holding pattern as they wait for that outreach to happen, potentially letting go of other tasks.
- Start working with the client on the rollout plan — you need to consider client product adoption at all times.
4. Conduct a Formal Sign Off at the End of the Project
Clients should know precisely when the onboarding process is over. This is a time that you should use to review what you accomplished and even celebrate your success! Be sure to follow these steps for a successful sign-off:
- Conduct a final review with the client.
- Make any last modifications as appropriate before the sign-off.
- Initiate a formal, written wrap-up process.
- Review the client success definitions to ensure “closure” and that he client is aware of the expected benefits.
- Create a final survey. Try to identify degrees of client satisfaction, as well as specific feedback on the onboarding. This feedback is critical for refining your processes.
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5. Rollout & Debrief
You should always have a rollout plan in place before completing the onboarding process. Once you’re finished, you can implement this plan:
- Conduct onboarding team surveys.
- Review your metrics again. How long did the project take? What were the bottlenecks? What could have been done better?
- Every project warrants a debrief :). How can sales help make the process more efficient? Can onboarding be brought into the sales process sooner? How can this project be a teachable moment for the whole team? For new hires?
- Evaluate the need for new or different resources in the future.
6. Prioritize Onboarding as an Operational Step
Client onboarding is more than just a journey between the sales process and customer retention. It’s a crucial part of your operational framework that can impact your bottom line and reputation in the industry. Therefore, if you haven’t already, you must make onboarding a company-wide priority. Companies can do this in a few different ways:
- Standardize onboarding with company-wide checklists, metrics, communication templates, and automation.
- Build out operational guidelines that delegate and prioritize tasks to the right team members.
- Educate all team members on the importance of onboarding and their roles within the framework (each team member should know where to point clients in case of issues).
- Establish accessible communication channels for urgent issues such as tech support and billing.
- Maintain agile and open lines of communication to make changes quickly.
- Drive a sense of ownership by ensuring everyone on the team is accountable for each client relationship.
Client onboarding touches every department, from sales and support to product engineers. Consequently, each team member should know their place in the process.
Automate the Process With Setuply
Automation is the key to customer satisfaction and preparing your business to scale for growth. It also helps project management by significantly decreasing the time and resources needed for onboarding. When you use Setuply, you’re:
- Freeing up more resources for customer service by reducing operational time.
- Reducing operational costs and minimizing time sinks.
- Tracking the status of onboarding projects, accessing key metrics to focus on issues as they arise in real time, and building data to make informed decisions.
- Increasing client satisfaction and retention.
With Setuply, you can automate your onboarding process so your team can focus on what they do best. For the best automation solutions that allow you to deliver an unparalleled onboarding experience, reach out to the team at Setuply today!