How to Create a Kickin’ Kickoff Strategy for New Client Onboarding 

By Peter Ord
Oct 12, 2021
Football Player Kickoff On Field

What comes to mind when you hear the word “kickoff?” You might think of the first play of a football game, the first keynote speaker at a conference, or a new onboarding campaign. Either way, the kickoff sets the tone for what fans, guests, or a new client can expect from this experience. You have one shot at generating the desired response from your audience. Will they be excited and trusting of your capacity to win, inspire, and finish the job? That all depends on your kickoff strategy.

During a kickoff for new client onboarding, it can be easy to be “kicked off” to the curb. Over 90 percent of customers say companies could do a better job when it comes to onboarding new users and customers. That means almost every company has room for improvement. 

A well-planned kickoff strategy begins with a clear understanding of the client’s goals among your internal team and stakeholders. Then, the project manager creates checkpoints to make sure the client’s goals stay aligned with the project’s timeline, tasks, and budget. Here’s how it works. 


Establish the customer’s goals

The heart of any onboarding project should be the client. Experts estimate 31 percent of companies claim that miscommunications about project objectives are to blame for project failures. Along with clarifying goals and objectives, ask about their vision. What do they want from your company? What defines a successful onboarding experience in the end? 

Keep in mind that it’s during this phase that customer loyalty is at its lowest point. A study of the banking industry found that new customers are three times more likely to bail during the first 90 days of opening an account. This critical stage of new client onboarding is your opportunity to reinforce the value you bring to the onboarding process as you convert the customer’s goals into a manageable timeline. 


Set up your team

Your project manager should be clear on the roles of stakeholders, decision-makers, and internal team members. Only then can they establish pathways to communicate regular project updates. How do you plan to report progress? Who needs to know? What are their expectations on receiving updates? 

“Give your client the opportunity to ask any remaining questions they have and be ready to listen,” explains the MBO partners team. “If you’re unable to answer a particular question right away, let your client know that you will follow up with a call or email as soon as you can.”


Build a game plan

Using a granular approach for your kickoff strategy means mapping each phase to ensure everyone is on the same page. It also reassures the client that onboarding is moving forward based on their preferences. 

“The purpose of the Kickoff stage is to provide a clear structure for how to partner with your customers throughout the implementation,” says Donna Weber, author of Onboarding Matters: How Successful Companies Transform New Customers Into Loyal Champions. “During Kickoff, you’ll get specific about how to reach the goals and objectives you captured and validated in the success plan. . . The kickoff stage shifts focus from big picture strategy to the tactics of onboarding and implementation.” 


Use a single source of truth as your playbook

One of the biggest challenges for project managers is to maintain transparency and monitor collaboration on the project. With almost 5 million members of the US workforce working at least half of the time remotely, verifying the status of tasks and keeping team members informed of the latest project updates via emails or phone calls dominate most of their time. 

If your idea of project management relies on sticky notes and email threads to track task updates, it’s time to upgrade to an automated system. Companies with standardized project management practices save 28 times more money than those that don’t. And almost half of companies that use a project management software say it reduces errors in cost estimates. This single source of information means your client can see for themselves how things are going. No inconvenient phone calls, lost emails, overlooked tasks, or delays.

A successful finish for your new client onboarding begins with a well-executed kickoff. Perfect your strategy with a platform that takes the guesswork out of your client’s objectives. Bonus if you find one that creates a trusting and engaging onboarding experience worth cheering about. 

Peter Ord


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