Client onboarding involves welcoming and integrating new clients into your business. It’s an essential part of any business system, especially ones that rely on relationships between employees and clients, such as a digital marketing agency.
When most agencies consider onboarding, they focus on landing new employees into the greater agency system. But clients can benefit just as much when it comes to adjusting to and learning about how things work in your organisation.
By mastering the art of client onboarding, you can improve workflow efficiency behind the scenes and deliver more satisfying results to your target audience.
Client satisfaction is one of the most crucial factors to consider in terms of boosting referrals, reducing churn rates, improving brand reputation, and driving repeat business – all of which promote agency growth, profitability, and general success.
Ultimately, strong employee-to-client relationships is what makes digital agencies thrive.
But creating and implementing a dynamic like this can be challenging when you aren’t sure where to start. Today, we’ll give you a comprehensive breakdown of how to master and understand the art of client onboarding.
Understanding Client Onboarding and Its Importance
In an agency, client onboarding describes the process of integrating your newly signed clients into your business in a way that makes them feel welcome and understood – and to give them an understanding of how you work too. Its purpose is to establish a healthy working relationship and communication dynamic that facilitates the highest level of productivity and mutual satisfaction possible.
Client onboarding also facilitates deeper trust and loyalty with your agency. In fact, a recent Wyzowel study found that 88% of respondents would be more loyal to agencies that prioritise client onboarding and the sharing of educational content.
When a client hires you for work, they are trusting you with their brand. Digital marketing agencies require a lot of client-to-agency collaboration, so any uncertainty or miscommunication can quickly lead to chaos for everyone involved.
There are several potential consequences of a poor onboarding process. It can lead to confusion, a lack of trust, and sometimes even a loss of business.
Let’s take a closer look at what can happen when your agency lacks a strong client onboarding process:
Low client satisfaction – A thorough onboarding process leads to high satisfaction, and a lacking one does the opposite. Don’t make it difficult for clients to understand project expectations or procedures – they will only get confused and frustrated.
High churn rate – A poor client onboarding system is statistically much more likely to result in a higher overall percentage rate of clients who stop subscribing to your business.
Damaged reputation – Without a strong onboarding strategy, it will be difficult to maintain a positive reputation with clients. If clients can find a better onboarding system at a different agency, they’ll probably go there first.
Reduced referrals – Clients who have had a negative experience with your onboarding process are not likely to recommend your agency to their friends or colleagues.
Strategies for Maximising Efficiency and Satisfaction in Client Onboarding
Convenience, efficiency, and consistency are all winning attributes for a client onboarding process. But how can you implement them into your agency? Finding the right strategy for maximising efficiency and satisfaction is the key to successful client onboarding.
Clients can be complicated, but their needs often aren’t. They just want simple, easy-to-learn, and swift onboarding processes that tell them what to expect from your team. Here are six strategies you can adapt to achieve these goals within your digital marketing agency:
Communication is the bread and butter of every organisation. You can’t survive without it. The first strategy to adopt when it comes to creating a solid onboarding process is transparency.
New clients naturally have a lot of questions about how things work, what to expect, where they should go for support, and so on. All those questions and more need to be anticipated and answered as swiftly as possible.
It is also important to foster a culture of open communication throughout your onboarding process – and over the course of the project itself. Make it easy for clients to ask questions, voice concerns, and share ideas without feeling confused, awkward, or sidelined.
Setting Realistic Expectations
Setting realistic expectations is one of the best ways to ensure that your onboarding process functions as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Provide new clients with a clear scope of what the next few weeks, months, or years are going to look like. Explain clearly what will be required of them, which deliverables you will be focusing on, and what the results can realistically be expected to be.
Never overpromise the results of a project. It may keep clients excited for now, but it’s a slippery slope that usually leads to disappointment, anger, and sometimes even legal action from clients.
Instead, clearly outline the goals of the campaign and explain in detail what your plan is to get there. Inform them of the risks and other potential outcomes should problems arise along the way. Be honest but optimistic – and above all, informative about your plan of action.
Use of CRM Systems
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are systems that make it easy to manage customer data. The bigger your client base gets, the more profit you can make, and the harder it can be to effectively prioritise everyone on the list.
But CRM systems change that. They support sales management, facilitate team communication, deliver actionable insights, and generally help you keep track of multiple projects and clients at the same time.
While your clients don’t directly engage with these systems themselves, your employees do, and it makes the process of monitoring and integrating onboarding processes much smoother.
By providing clarity and structure to your various client projects, your agency can approach them with improved efficiency and focus, thus producing more satisfying results. CRM systems provide enhanced data integration, cross-selling, and touchpoint automation.
They can also send digital welcome packages to new clients, provide them with easy access to educational resources, and contextualise the ethos and systems that your agency uses.
Most of the CRM systems that digital agencies use today are cloud-based, and for good reason. Cloud-based workflow solutions are more secure and accessible than other systems. Plus, these systems offer more in terms of automation tools for effective client management.
Creating a Standardised Onboarding Checklist
A great checklist can be a powerful tool for integrating any new system. When you gain a new client, there are a few basic touch points you should tick off to ensure they have everything they need to enter into a functional working relationship with you, such as:
Gathering information – You need to understand what your client wants in detail. Ask them what their goals are, how they like to communicate, whether they’ve worked with a digital marketing agency before, etc.
Set up the client’s account – Once you’ve established your objectives, move forward into the contracting and accounts phase. Clearly outline project scope, budget, data ownership, access rights, and security clauses.
Training and education – Give your client access to a comprehensive library of information and resources (such as explainer videos, FAQs, guides, online forums, and recorded demos). Make sure they understand where to go for help if they need it.
Communication and follow up – Communication should be ongoing throughout your relationship with each client. At the end of the project, follow up on whether their expectations were met, if any adjustments need to be made, and how satisfied they are.
You can adjust this checklist to suit your exact needs, but as a general rule of thumb, these are the steps you should be considering when developing a strong client onboarding system.
Regular Feedback and Adjustments
While the client onboarding process is largely necessary in the beginning of a new client relationship, it definitely shouldn’t end there. Continue to share information back and forth to ensure both parties are happy with the direction a project is taking.
Be prepared to make some adjustments along the way. Project modifications are normal, just make sure you have worked out the parameters around who has a say in what.
Feedback is also a crucial aspect of a good client onboarding process. You can make a post-project client questionnaire to find out how happy clients are with the results, what they liked best about your workflow, and what they think you can improve on.
If you belong to a young or small digital marketing agency, developing a strong client onboarding process without guidance can be a challenge. But that’s why case studies exist.
Let’s take a look at some real-life examples of digital agencies that have successfully implemented these strategies, and what kind of impact they had on client onboarding processes and overall client satisfaction.
Imagine That – This full-service digital marketing agency dealt with its rapidly growing client base by upgrading their client onboarding program. Cloud-based workflow solutions enabled them to offer new tools for developing strong client relationships.
Through this new system, Imagine That was able to reduce time spent on developing proposals and contracts by 75%, and maximise customer acquisition.
Cloud-based systems create the possibility of more personalised, visual, and guided client onboarding processes that clients can extract more value from.
Hello Social – This Aussie social media marketing agency once struggled to retain clients past the first phase of campaigning, but thanks to a new and improved client onboarding process, they’re the second-biggest agency of their kind in Australia.
By digitising their client onboarding process, Hello Social was able to mitigate client confusion and free up more time for employees to focus on delivering great results.
Hello Social’s client onboarding process is 28 days long, allowing for a deeper, more thorough get-to-know-you experience for both employees and clients, thus facilitating better communication, improved project results, and increased future collaborations.
While there are many ways to improve the flow and efficiency of a good client onboarding process, the theme that tends to come up the most is automation and cloud-based workflow solutions. By digitising your onboarding process, you can streamline and enhance it.
There are lots of different cloud-based systems to use for improved client onboarding processes, some of which include Ascendr, Process Street, Pipefy, and Churn Zero.
Client Onboarding In A Nutshell
Your digital marketing agency’s client onboarding process can have a definitive impact on its business success. A great onboarding system means a lower churn rate, higher customer satisfaction, and perhaps most importantly, longer lasting relationships with clients.
Your clients want to know that your system is functional and easy to pick up from the get-go. A weak or overly confusing onboarding process is not only going to waste their time, but it’s also going to add unnecessary pressure and tension to your overarching working relationship.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to improve your client onboarding process and make sure both your employees and your clients are equipped with everything they need to succeed.
By exercising clear communication, setting realistic expectations, and making regular adjustments as you go, your agency can develop a winning client onboarding strategy that clients want to tell all of their friends about.
The most profitable clients are the ones that work with your agency on a long-term basis – and without a strong, positive start, the relationships you share with them can be doomed from the start. Set the tone for prosperous client relationships with a great onboarding process.
Engagement Makes The Digital World Go Round
If you found this article useful for learning about enhancing efficiency and satisfaction in your digital marketing agency, leave a comment about your experiences with client onboarding and which strategy you’d like to try next.
Share the article with your employees, business partners, or colleagues to open up a conversation about the importance of client onboarding and how you can start maximising the relationships you share with consumers.