Welcome to my three-part series on client onboarding and how it revolutionized my agency! I hope you find this information instructive and helpful in creating your own custom client onboarding process.
[ Part Two | Part Three ]
Note: This is a post that contains affiliate links.
When SoVerve launched in February of 2016, I remember feeling utterly prepared. Of course, I knew of client onboarding, but I thought I had a system that worked for my business. In truth, I had zero clues of just how important this process would be to my overall success. Two days after I launched I found myself with my very first client under my new entity and an onboarding system that lacked in so many areas. My biggest mistake? I wasn’t thinking about how my process would affect my long-term relationships with my clients.
The thing about creating systems for your business, whether automated or not, is that they take time to set-up, require data to adjust, and most importantly, they have to be created with your clients in mind. So, for the majority of 2016, I set out to find ways to better this process. However, as time progressed, I saw myself jumping from one client project to another and from one community collaboration opportunity to next. I kept the same bootstrapped system with no real direction. What I now know, is that a service based business needs a stellar onboarding process to maintain consistency.
What Is Client Onboarding Anyways?
Before I get too deep into today’s topic, let me give you the most straightforward definition of client onboarding you will ever Google. Client onboarding is the process in which you take your client and educate them on how you do business, what they can expect from collaborating with you and how you plan to address any issues, concerns or question that may arise along the way. It also provides them with specifics like payment scheduling, invoicing, and contract details.
So you see, getting this part down was so vital to us, and I didn’t even know it yet. As a team who practices customer-centric marketing, client onboarding was our ticket to creating that unbelievable client experience from the beginning.
Hello, 17Hats & Asana!
The first tool I implemented was 17Hats to replace not one, but over six external tools. With 17Hats, I was able to create Lifecycles for all of our leads and thus creating a great CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool for our agency with a small yet growing portfolio. This option within 17Hats eliminated many of the tools I was using to make sure that no lead falls through the cracks. The second reason why I love 17Hats were the project-specific Workflows, which allows us to create tasks and to-do’s whether they involve the client or our team. Through the Workflows, I can set up canned emails, proposals, contracts, and invoices to create a smooth automated sequence. This has saved us so much time and money.
Another main feature 17Hats offers is to allow you to set up a client portal which you can set up with links to documents on Google Drive and links to Asana. With 17Hats, I was able to provide our clients with a space that hosts their project information, directly in one place. This, in turn, allows us to meet client expectations by putting their needs first since our previous system wasn’t easy to manage for many of our clients. With the help of Asana, we were then able to accomplish projects and recurring tasks. The entire SoVerve team loves this option.
Remember, part of the onboarding process is to ensure that your client’s definition of success is met, and not yours. Defining success from your client’s point of view will help you create an onboarding system that works for you, not against you. For SoVerve Marketing Group it was clear that our clients were individuals who were coming to us because while tech-savvy, many didn’t want the hassle that came with learning an app. They wanted a snapshot view of their projects and not the extras. Will this system work for our agency in the many years to come? I do not know, but as the needs of our clients change, so will our process and more than ever I am willing to make that adjustment to meet their needs first.
Part 2: A Branded Process
In the next post of this series, I discuss our exact client onboarding process looking deeper into 17Hats. Comment below and let us know if you are currently using an onboarding system. What web apps do you use? And are they meeting your client needs?
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