Client onboarding is one of those things that every company knows they need to do, but not everyone is doing well. For some, the client onboarding process takes just a few seconds because it is comprised entirely of a single welcome email. For others, it’s a long, drawn-out process that takes months.
What’s the right middle ground? The answer can depend on a lot of factors, but generally, the average client onboarding process takes between 30 and 90 days. To illustrate, here’s how a typical onboarding timeline can look like.
Day 1: Welcome
Immediately after a client completes the sales process, there should be some communication to welcome them to your company. These emails are often automated, which is okay, but even when they are automated, they should include a few key pieces:
- Personalized welcome. (Adding a personal touch to this initial email will make a great first impression.)
- Quick review of the products or services they purchased.
- Overview and timeline of the client onboarding process to set accurate expectations.
- Contact information for a single person who will be their onboarding lead.
- Logins or other pertinent information to get into the product, software, or platform.
Keep this communication as simple as possible. This isn’t the time to send them 300 tutorials on how your product works. And make sure the next steps are clear!
Week 1: Sales-to-Onboarding Handoff Meeting
The best client onboarding process will start off with a meeting with your sales team. This is the sales-to-onboarding handoff. This step helps you get a better understanding of why the client purchased your product or service, what their goals are, and how your platform can help achieve them. This meeting should take place as soon as possible—definitely within the first week.
Many companies send out lengthy questionnaires to new clients. This often leads to frustration at a time when clients are excited about starting to use your product or service. Instead of a million-question survey, gather as much information as you can about the needs of your client from the sales team (make sure they know what questions to ask during the sales process to gather useful information) and existing resources like the client’s website, sales materials, and LinkedIn page.
If necessary, send out a short questionnaire to gather more information so you can ensure your team’s goals are geared toward a client’s needs but try not to overwhelm them with multiple hours of homework.
End of Week 1: Kickoff Meeting
Schedule a kickoff meeting with your client as quickly as possible after meeting with your sales team for the handoff. This gets your clients started when they’re still excited. During that meeting you should:
- Review the contract and set expectations for deliverables.
- Ask questions or get clarification on client goals and expectations.
- Provide a concrete schedule with deadlines for the client onboarding process.
- Discuss what they can expect from you and what you need from them.
Days 7-30: Internal Setup
A lot of what happens after a kickoff meeting happens internally. But that doesn’t mean it should seem like a black hole to your client.
Unfortunately, this is where many companies fall short. They meet with a client, work behind the scenes on getting things set up, and don’t communicate. They may go weeks or longer without talking to their client. This leaves customers feeling frustrated and abandoned.
A better process would involve a platform that allows you to assign all the relevant tasks to your team to do that behind-the-scenes work. With complete transparency, the client can see what is happening and when it will be done. Many platforms don’t give you this level of transparency, and that’s part of what makes GuideCX different.
This way, you don’t have to do as much manual work communicating with the client. They can choose what they want to see and when. This puts them in control of their level of participation of their onboarding.
Days 31-60: Training and Feedback
Now that your client is set up in the system, the next step is to provide them with resources for training. Leverage your knowledge base, tutorials, and other resources. Don’t forget about in-person or online training to get them up to speed.
During this time, you should also be checking in regularly with the client. Answer any questions they may have developed after your kickoff meeting. Having set times (weekly, bi-weekly, etc.) for calls can keep your team organized and on-task without being overwhelmed.
Days 61-90: Achieving the “First Success”
The sooner you can help your client see a “first success” with your platform, products, or services, the more likely they will become a long-term client.
How quickly you achieve that will vary based on a client’s needs and the average time-to-value with your products and services. For some companies this will happen sooner than 60 to 90 days, others may take over 90 days. At the very least, make sure you provide feedback, reports, and other information to show how they are steadily moving toward that first win.
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