Onboarding a new client is an intricate process that has to accommodate unique client requirements. While customization is essential to support these individual client requirements, it's also important to maintain a scalable client onboarding process.
In the first of our quarterly thought leadership webinars, we shared insights into the measures leading solution providers are using to deliver the best client onboarding experience. Below are some key takeaways from that webinar — you can also watch the full webinar here. As a bonus, in addition to gaining more knowledge about onboarding new clients, you’ll also have the opportunity to see a brief demo of the Setuply platform!
Defining the Stages of Client Onboarding
While client onboarding requires customization, certain fundamental stages are universally applicable, regardless of the industry or specific client needs.
In the project kick-off stage, it’s a good idea to get all the stakeholders on the same page. Sync up on working dynamics, communications, and the plan ahead to achieve success. Know what has been promised to the client and ensure you have all the information you need to move forward with ease.
The implementation stage is usually a series of repeatable meetings where onboarding teams, clients, or both work through tasks. In this phase, start talking about the rollout as early as possible. Get conversations out in the open about what the transition plan looks like.
When it comes to the wrap-up stage, it’s recommended to invest in a formal process. Guide clients through all the activities undertaken during onboarding to make sure they’re satisfied with the results. Additionally, sharing a survey with clients to gather feedback on their onboarding journey is a valuable step.
Zero In On the Right Metrics
As the old saying goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. With a focus on client and onboarding representative satisfaction, client retention, and onboarding costs, it's crucial to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs):
- Time between deal close date to onboarding start date: A lengthy backlog can lead to client frustration and increase the likelihood of them turning to competitors.
- Average timespan between onboarding start to completion: The limited capacity of onboarding representatives assigned to the project may cause delays in achieving project milestones.
- The onboarding completion percentage rate: Due to onboarding challenges, a client may churn before they have the chance to realize the value of a solution.
Invest in Innovative Tools
With evolving business needs and the need for regulatory compliance, more companies are investing in digital solutions to support their business operations. At the same time, there are fewer experienced workers to support implementations, and clients expect to be up and running quickly.
One way the industry has responded is with the adoption of AI and machine-learning automation. Many providers are leveraging these tools within their core product offerings, as well as third-party solutions, to support a more seamless and efficient client onboarding experience.
There’s also the rise of product-led growth (PLG) and self-service offerings. Yet, in many B2B scenarios — like migrating to a new accounting software — the self-service onboarding process is far too complex for this approach. That has generated the need for designated client onboarding tools.
Use Effective Communication Strategies
Good client communication is often considered the glue in client onboarding. It bridges the gap between solution providers and clients, ensuring a harmonious flow in a coordinated way from one stage to the next.
Establishing consistent messaging in client onboarding (and beyond) helps project timelines stay on track, reduces uncertainties, and ensures clients feel supported and valued. To achieve these benefits, implementing the right communication strategies is essential:
- Give onboarding the background to follow up an engaging sales experience
- Use simple language versus professional jargon to support new customers
- Establish standardized professional communication protocols for consistency (e.g., standardized email formats, branding)
- Repeat communications to reinforce trust better and encourage action
- Keep communications friendly to drive engagement
Level Up Your Data Collection
Gathering data from clients is one of the biggest hurdles for onboarding reps. In fact, per one of our surveys, more than 50% of B2B customer onboarding specialists consider gathering new client data as the most challenging aspect of their job.
Setting clear early expectations about the necessary information that needs to be collected can significantly aid in client preparation. Additionally, it’s important to make it easy for clients to share their data. Provide them with questionnaires, wizards, and templates that are easy to fill out — all within a secure location.
Give All Stakeholders Transparency
Throughout the client onboarding journey, all stakeholders must have visibility into the project timeline. This ensures they can stay on top of project progress and any adjustments or challenges encountered along the way.
To help keep stakeholders aligned on priorities, make sure project communications are broadcast to everyone. When project changes are needed, make a formal request so everyone is aware of how this change will affect the project scope and needs.
This Setuply webinar is the first of many designed to enhance client onboarding! Stay tuned as we cover future onboarding trends, measuring onboarding success, and customer success stories. Check back in on our events page to see what's coming up!