It’s one of these buzzwords that seems to have grown in popularity in the last 12-24 months.
If you get it wrong, you risk boring your new clients and not maximising the returns on your new relationship early on.
And if you get it right, you can wow your new clients, creating an army of loyal ‘raving fans’ who want to help spread the word about your practice.
But what does it all mean?
Here’s my complete breakdown of the what, why and how of client onboarding:
What exactly is ‘client onboarding’
Client onboarding refers to the process of welcoming new clients in your practice.
It’s an opportunity for you to leave a lasting first impression, as well as ensure that both yours and your clients’ needs are met early on.
A study by Gartner found that “80% of a company’s future revenue will come from 20% of its current customers”.
This means that it’s incredibly important to impress your new clients so that they remain loyal and with you for longer, and a ‘wow onboarding process’ is exactly how you do that…
Why is onboarding so important?
One of the main benefits of a wow onboarding process is that your new clients are much more likely to give you referrals.
The aim here is to deliver superior customer service in the first 90 days so that your new clients are so blown away, they can’t not go and tell all their friends, family and colleagues about their amazing new accountant.
Another key benefit is that your clients will often stay for longer.
When you leave a good first impression, you’re much more likely to build a strong relationship from the word go, which means clients are much less likely to want to leave down the line.
By having a weak onboarding process, you’re leaving money on the table and ultimately not maximising your practices revenue potential.
What does a wow onboarding process consist of?
A wow onboarding process consists mainly of 2 parts:
- Transactional tasks – these are the things that we are required to do in order to be able to work with the client e.g. Letters of engagement, AML checks, setting up direct debit etc.
- Relational tasks – these are the things we aren’t required to do, but they add huge value to the relationship early on e.g. welcome SMS + pack in the post, courtesy calls, free gifts etc.
The mistake that most accountancy practices make when looking at their onboarding process, is that they focus purely on transactional tasks, and neglect the relational ones.
And what this does is leave the new client slightly bored and unlikely to be singing your praises to their friends and colleagues.
This is what I like to call a ‘Yawn onboarding process’.
When you find the right balance of transactional and relational tasks, your new clients will be left with a big smile on their face and much more likely to be giving you referrals down the line.
Systemising and leveraging your onboarding process with technology
Another big mistake that practices make with onboarding is that it often happens on an ‘ad-hoc’ basis.
Sometimes you remember, other times you don’t, which is why utilising technology is an absolute must in your onboarding process in order to:
- Systemise – so that the correct tasks happen every time, without fail, not just when you remember.
- Scale – the automation from technology allows you to create leverage so it doesn’t matter whether you sign up 2 or 20 clients, the time spent onboarding them doesn’t increase dramatically.
For example, in my coaching business when I sign up a new client, all I have to do is apply a tag in our CRM system (Infusionsoft) and by using Zapier, a list of 19 onboarding tasks (a combination of transactional and relational) are automatically created, and allocated out to relevant team members in our project management system (Asana).
The time investment from me there is less than 10 seconds and I can guarantee that every client is onboarded smoothly and effectively.
In your accountancy practice it might be worth considering:
- Proposal software e.g. GoProposal, to automate and streamline the signing of engagement letters, generating invoices and collecting payments.
- Workflow software e.g. AccountancyManager or Glide, to help with the transactional to-do’s and some of the relational ones e.g. tasks for team members to send out welcome gifts as well as the automation of welcome emails and SMS messages.
- CRM software e.g. Infusionsoft, to help with some of the relational tasks e.g. automating an email sequence to go out to new clients with pieces of educational content on to help them.
Create your 90-day onboarding game plan
So where exactly do you start when it comes to building your wow onboarding process?
A great starting point is to create 2 separate lists:
- For all of the transactional tasks that need to take place
- For all of the relational tasks you would like to take place
Once you have your lists, create a 90-day timeline on an excel spreadsheet, or somewhere else if needs be, and plot all of your transactional and relational tasks onto the timeline.
Then it’s simply a case of systemising where possible, and utilising some of the technology mentioned above so that things happen efficiently and consistently.
And when you have done all of the above, you’ll have an onboarding process that wow’s your new clients, leaves an incredible first impression and generates word-of-mouth referrals for your practice.
Who already has a ‘wow onboarding process’? What tips do you have to share with others? What technology do you recommend to help systemise and automate? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below…