The client onboarding process is something that every B2B company has to deal with, yet very few perfect. If you want to remain competitive in both the short-term and long-run, you must find a way to streamline onboarding without compromising the experience for your clients.
Processes Produce Results
There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.” In other words, if you continue to do the same things, you’re going to get the same results. On the flip side, it means you can get different results by changing up the way you do things – by creating new processes.
Processes are at the heart of every business. While the term might evoke imagery of bland corporate manuals and boring staff meetings where a manager explains how a specific task is supposed to be performed, processes are more than boring rules an organization enacts in order to ensure consistency and predictability.
Processes are the pillars upon which successful businesses build up and out. They are the frameworks upon which great ideas can be created and executed. They are how businesses, like yours, maximize efficiency and output.
From a client onboarding perspective, you desperately need formal processes. If your team is still trying to figure things out on the fly, you aren’t where you need to be. Client onboarding is one of the most critically important challenges a business faces and there needs to be a strategic, concerted effort to make this process fast, safe, and efficient.
5 Tips for Improving Your Client Onboarding Process
Most businesses think of client onboarding through the lens of making a sale or giving the bottom line a temporary spike. As such, their primary focus is on getting the client to sign the dotted line and process a payment. In reality, the significance of client onboarding extends far beyond this isolated transaction.
As Gartner research shows, 80 percent of a company’s future revenue will come from 20 percent of its current customers. This data point only enhances the importance of onboarding. You need to make a great first impression from the start if you want to retain new clients and develop lasting relationships that support your company’s revenue stream for years to come.
Whether you have a process that’s in need of improvement, or have never sat down and thought about what a formal client onboarding process looks like, here are some tips and suggestions to get your business moving in the right direction.
#1. Clarify Your Definition of Onboarding
Every business is going to have a slightly different definition of what “client onboarding” is. But as Tallyfy explains, any successful onboarding process can usually be summed up by two specific questions:
- Are you successfully introducing new clients to your business and addressing all of their questions and concerns early on?
- Are you gathering information on new clients so you have the insights needed to continue offering products and services that benefit them?
In other words, it starts by meeting the needs of your clients. However, it’s just as important that you satisfy your business needs as well. “If the client onboarding process fails to meet the needs of your business then it is ultimately useless,” Tallyfy points out. “A good client onboarding process should not only retain your client but encourage them to continue to buy new products and services.”
#2. Prioritize Customer Experience
Once you understand your clients and what they want/need/expect, you can start to tailor the onboarding process to ensure maximum satisfaction at all touchpoints. While you’re obviously going to think about customer experience in the big things, remember to pay attention to the details. Every interaction a new client has with your business – whether through a simple email or a lunch meeting with a sales rep – has a direct impact.
#3. Prioritize Safety and Security
Safety and security didn’t used to be a huge focal point in the client onboarding process, but this has changed over the past decade. With nearly 100 percent of the process now digital – coupled with the fact that cybercrime rates are at an all-time high – there’s a serious need for ensuring clients are who they say they are, as well as protecting their information.
“The key point here is to securely authenticate users without diminishing their experience,” explains Jeannine Mulliner of eSignLive. “Look for an e-signature solution that offers a wide range of authentication options to better fit your needs and as a result, enable better experiences. For example, ensure you have the ability to authenticate signers before they gain access to documents AND at the point of signing for your higher risk, higher value transactions.”
#4. Set Goals
If you’re going to be successful in streamlining the client onboarding process, you’ll need some goals that can be measured to an objective degree. As the SMART framework points out, goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based.
Don’t just set goals in regards to how many clients you want to onboard over a given period of time. While this is important, you also need to be thinking about things like speed (how fast prospects are moved from awareness to purchase), customer loyalty, reduction in customer complaints, gaining better insights into purchase behaviors, etc.
#5. Personalize the Process
The entire client onboarding process needs to be personalized as much as possible. Clients are used to operating in an online environment where every aspect of their day is tailored to their needs and desires. If you suddenly present a generic onboarding funnel, they’re going to believe (a) you don’t care, or (b) you aren’t prepared. Either way, this isn’t the impression you want to make at such a critical juncture in the relationship.
Remove the Friction
Streamlining the client onboarding process is all about removing friction and making it as fast, safe, and efficient as possible. While there are numerous ways to do this, the steps outlined in this article should provide you with a good starting point. If nothing else, they’ll help you begin building a strategic framework upon which future decisions can be made.