The new client sales handoff to the customer success team in charge of client onboarding is one of the most crucial times in a new client relationship because it provides an opportunity to build a relationship, and it can set expectations for all your future interactions.
There is a lot of information online about onboarding, and a piece of common advice is to send onboarding questionnaires to new clients. Questionnaires can provide good information and valuable insight, so we’re not here to tell you they are all bad. However, there are some best practices to ensure you get the questionnaire right, so it doesn’t end up hurting your initial customer experience more than it helps.
Tip #1: Keep it as simple as possible
Most companies send out an onboarding questionnaire before they even schedule a kickoff meeting, which means it’s the first interaction you will have with a new client who just signed a contract. In many cases, it’s also the first contact with the person overseeing the implementation, and that’s not always the same person who participated in the sales process and signed the contract. If you send them a 27-page document that takes an entire day to fill out, you could sour the relationship before you even have a chance to get it started. Ask the questions that are necessary, but don’t overwhelm them with a big assignment right off the bat.
Tip #2: Don’t make clients repeat themselves
There is a good chance that your sales team has been working with the client and building a relationship for a while. During that time, the sales rep may have gathered helpful information about the client’s goals, past solutions they have tried that didn’t work, and reasons for choosing your software. Make it part of your sales-to-implementation handoff to transfer this internal knowledge to your onboarding team so you can avoid asking questions in your onboarding questionnaire that were answered during the sales process. Clients won’t feel like they are constantly going over the same information repeatedly, and it will make your company’s operations appear seamless for a new client.
Tip #3: Get specific when necessary
While you want to keep the questionnaire simple, you still need to gather as specific information as possible about the client’s goals, competitors, target audience, budgets, and deadlines. Ask these questions to ensure you stay on track during onboarding and that your deliverables meet their expectations.
Tip #4: Don’t combine onboarding with a “satisfaction survey.”
Now isn’t the time to include questions about how they heard about you, why they selected your company, or how satisfied they were with the sales process. That can come as a satisfaction survey once the onboarding is complete.
Onboarding is your chance to set the stage for your entire client relationship. Make sure every step—from onboarding questionnaires to your project management software—moves you in the right direction with new clients.
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