Welcome to our three-part series on client onboarding, and how it revolutionized our agency! We hope you find this information instructive and helpful in creating your own custom client onboarding process.
[ Part One | Part Three ]
Note: This is a post that contains affiliate links.
We are now on part two of our client onboarding series. I must say we received a few emails about our first post that truly brought to light just how incredibly frustrated many of you are with your business processes in general. It seems that with so many different apps and so many different ways to incorporate them into our businesses, it is easy for any online business owner to lose focus. I know our process was terrible, to say the least, and while many clients seemed to love it, I knew better. Not only was the process poorly managed, but it wasn’t cohesive with my brand message.
Why A Branded Process Matters
Before I move forward toward on why the branding process matters in client onboarding, I’d like to show you a list of all of the apps that I used specifically for client onboarding:
- Gmail – No longer use for onboarding
- Calendly – No longer use for onboarding
- PayPal – No longer use for onboarding
- Google Forms – No longer use for onboarding
- DigiSigner – No longer use for onboarding
- Google Drive – No longer use for onboarding
- Dropbox – No longer use for onboarding
- Microsoft Word – No longer use for onboarding
- Adobe Acrobat – No longer use for onboarding
Yes, you counted correctly. Nine apps in order to onboard a single client. Now, I still use some of these in other aspects of my business, but not for onboarding specifically. Utilizing these apps, my processes looked something like this:
- Prospective client would fill out my contact form (via my website)
- I would reply via email
- They would reply back
- I would send them pricing information
- They would reply via email
- I would reply back
- They would request a consultation
- I would send them my Calendly link
And so on and so on. You see, closing each client would take me days, if not weeks. Who has time for that? More importantly, I found that the client onboarding process, like anything else in my business, it had to be a branded experience. By utilizing web applications like 17hats and a client portal like WP-Client, I was able to give my clients that unique experience that was custom to SoVerve. This then gave me the opportunity to take my clients through a journey that was much more pleasant.
This is why your onboarding process is more than merely having your logo plastered all over your invoice or PDF quote document. Onboarding a client smoothly makes them feel at ease and at peace with working with you. Clients feel taken care of and when you are working with someone you have never met in person, but have only seen perhaps once or twice on social media appearances are everything. Your professionalism, composure, organizational, and project management skills will matter.
The Client Onboarding Journey
Just imagine being a client coming into a situation where you are hiring a professional – online – only to be bombarded with countless apps, links, and emails. That was the state of my business a mere six months ago. That process was overwhelming, for me and it was overwhelming for my clients. It was discouraging to begin projects that once held a lot of promise, and that discouragement is not a good way to start any brief.
So what did I do first? Well, in order to fix the process, I had to take a look at my brand promise and my mission statement. That is where I began determining how I would lead my business and guide my clients into a fast growing agency. I considered my own strengths, as well as my clients, own technical knowledge. I didn’t want to implement a system that would be difficult for them to navigate. I wanted ease of access and ease of use. That was what I was promising them within my brand promise; a fun and unique experience.
Once drafted, tweaked, and implemented my new onboarding process looks something like this:
- Prospective client would fill out my contact form (via my website)
- Prospect receives an automated email based on their form selections. This email contains:
- An overview of our business and process
- Testimonials (social proof) from past clients & colleagues
- Preliminary base pricing information on select services
- Consultation booking information – hosted on my website
- Prospect then books a consultation (typically via Skype), where we:
- Discuss their business needs and the project(s) at hand
- Discuss objects, goals, and preliminary strategies
- Discuss budgets, pricing quotes, contracts, and invoicing
- Within a day the client receives their quote (proposal), which includes:
- Service Specific Questionnaire
- Quote (Proposal)
- Contract (and/or ATP’s)
- Invoice (with payment schedule and/or options)
Often times, this happens within a span of a day or two max, as about 90% of so of my clients come off of my email list and are already members of my community. These are individuals who have already been nurtured and know how I work and know the level of service they can expect from me. Once the client is signed on, they will receive a secondary welcome letter via email with their login information to the client portal, as well as access to their Google Drive client folder. They are also mailed a welcome gift as well (which we will discuss more on a later blog post).
Choosing A Custom Project Management System
The client portal is quite amazing if I do say so myself. I have a page outlining general business operational information, as well as a page full of video tutorials and downloads that are exclusive to SoVerve clients. We have then added two additional pages custom to each client, where one contains their current project management system. Now don’t get me wrong, there are situations where clients still don’t want to use the client portal as they use, but those situations are far and in between. Many still enjoy email, but I always refer back to the client portal when possible.
I had tried using Asana in the past, but it wasn’t for me and it wouldn’t work for my clients. Asana is strictly a project management system. I wanted something that included project phases, as well as individual goals and tasks. All departmentalized and grouped in a visually appealing manner that will encourage progress.
Overall, my process is completely unique and branded to the experience of working with SoVerve Marketing Group. I never want there to be a disconnect between how my clients feel about working with our team after having experienced something entirely different on social media. You want and need your clients to onboard feeling confident that you will take care of them. No better way to show them than early on in their journey.
Part III: Delivering A Promise
In the next and last post of this series, I cover how I now tie this branded process with exceptional customer service and why this is effective in then nurturing my client relationships. Comment below and let me know if you are currently using an onboarding system. How are you branding that process to fit your business model and brand promise?
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