To help you build and maintain trust, I’ve pulled together the 7 best client onboarding strategies.
It’s no secret that people do business with people they trust. Building trust takes time but it is the secret sauce to effectively onboard clients.
From listening attentively, speaking candidly, and being proactive, you can build rapport and establish trust, but how you do this is the key component.
What is Client Onboarding—And What Does it Have to do With Client Trust?
In essence, client onboarding is a process made up of various steps which starts from the moment that a prospective client is first introduced to your brand and ends when that prospect becomes a loyal client.
Gaining a client’s trust doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and dedication, and the fact that your competitors are vying for that same client’s trust and loyalty doesn’t make it an easy task.
While the point of the customer onboarding process is to gain the trust of a prospective client, it is important to remember that the work doesn’t stop once you have earned that trust.
Maintaining the trust and loyalty of your clients is an ongoing process. As a result, successful client onboarding is one of the most important functions in any business because, without it, your business would soon run out of clients.
Increasing the number of new clients is a key strategy to drive business growth, but maintaining relationships with existing ones ensures long-term success.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
My Top Client Onboarding Strategies
1. Get To Know Your Clients Better Than Your Competitors
One of the most important parts of any successful client onboarding strategy is getting to know your clients better than your competitors. When 51.2% of new businesses fail in their first five years, your relationship with your clients will help you stay in business longer.
Make sure that your first point of contact with a new client sets the tone and standard of client care that you will be providing for the rest of your relationship. The main objective is to establish and build rapport from the first interaction.
Ask clients what their goals are, why they want to achieve them, and what the end result looks like. Listen carefully and craft your communication around their needs. This may seem like a simple step to take but it can be extremely powerful. After all, clients are more likely to work with, and trust you, if they believe you are aligned with their vision and as motivated to achieve it.
2. Set Clear Expectations
Think of your client onboarding process as a journey. Most of us are not keen to go on any journey if we don’t have a clear idea of where we are going and which route we will be taking to get there. The same applies to clients and your onboarding process.
You need to make sure that your onboarding process sets clear expectations from the get-go. Tell your clients what they can expect from you and what the process entails but keep the explanation brief so that you don’t end up overwhelming them with too much information.
The best way to provide absolute clarity is to use a step-by-step guide mapping the process and to create a project scope statement. Make sure your guide is easily digestible by using simple, straightforward, language. Being as concise and precise as you can have a far greater impact than trying to wow a potential client with project management jargon.
3. Keep Customer Data Safe And Secure
With ever-increasing data privacy concerns, clients can initially be hesitant to provide sensitive business data because of the perceived risk that their privacy may be jeopardized. Instill trust by using the best practices for the protection of customer data and make sure that they are aware of your data privacy and protection policies, especially when it comes to sharing business-critical account login details.
Two of the best ways to instill trust here is to use a password manager to reassure your customers that their data is safe and only accessible to the rightful users. Along with that, you should also always use VPNs when connected to public WiFi networks (at coworking spaces, cafes, etc) to ensure hackers cannot access client information.
4. Highlight The Experiences Of Satisfied Customers
When it comes to marketing, nothing can compete with the power of word of mouth. It’s often one of the top three marketing channels to get new customers once you get it right. According to CommonThreadCo, Beardbrand gets 18% of their customers via word of mouth, second to YouTube at 36%.
A recommendation from a truly satisfied client is invaluable. It makes it far easier to establish trust with your new client if they have been referred by someone that they trust.
Factor this in to your client onboarding strategies. Compile testimonials and turn them into videos or graphics to make them easy to consume. Make sure that your customer reviews are visible on your website and that prospective clients can see them prominently as they navigate through your onboarding process.
5. Check-In With Clients Regularly
New clients like to be looked after, so make sure that you actively communicate with them throughout each step of the onboarding process. Even if it is a matter of just checking in with a client for 15 minutes, you can give a brief update on progress made and the next steps that are planned. You can even use a project status report to manage your communication plan.
Another thing I like to do is use a virtual phone number that I only give to clients so that they are able to reach me in case of emergency or pressing questions. That way, I’m able to separate personal calls from business all from one phone, and clients aren’t left in the dark.
One key takeaway here is to put yourself in the shoes of your client, think about all the questions they may have, and answer them before they get the chance to ask them.
Taking this step helps to show clients that you are completely on top of the project and will instill trust.
One step I recommend is if you have started a blog, try including your most popular posts in an onboarding email that addresses the topics new clients typically have questions about. Be sure to check out this post for suggestions on email marketing platforms to use to send said emails.
That said, balance is key, be careful to not add to the clutter in your new client’s inbox. All communication should be useful and add value to the onboarding experience.
6. Manage, Evaluate And Improve
Keep a careful eye on your onboarding process to ensure that it stays client-centric and user friendly. The needs of clients evolve over time and so should your onboarding process. It shouldn’t be static or stuck in time.
There is no better way to develop your onboarding process than to contact your established clients for their thoughts. Ask them what they found useful and what wasn’t so helpful using a feedback tool or survey. Use the feedback to plug any potential shortcomings and improve the overall process. Remember to do this on a regular basis.
7. Keep Your Competitors In Mind
Learn from your competitors by looking at their customer onboarding processes. You can often identify different client onboarding strategies and evaluate their effectiveness before employing them in your business.
Because of the competitive nature of the business, it is important to make sure that you are using the most effective methods to gain new clients and retain established ones. Learning from your competitors, especially those that are market leaders, is one of the best and easiest ways to do this.
Summary Of My Top Client Onboarding Strategies
When it comes to the customer onboarding process, communication is key.
Clients do business with companies that they trust and it is therefore important to instill trust from the very first interaction that you have with new customers.
Paying special attention to the design, layout, and clarity of your client onboarding process plays a huge role in driving new customer acquisition and revenue generation. It is worth investing time and effort into this critical business process.
Beyond writing about client onboarding strategies, I write about how to scale your blog at www.adamenfroy.com. You can find blog building and monetization tips there, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, on Instagram.