The excitement of acquiring a new client can sometimes make business owners neglect one of the most important phases of a client relationship: onboarding.
This is according to Nadine Chetty, cloud accounting specialist at E-Comm Accounting Solutions and Intuit QuickBooks trainer/writer network member who explains that the onboarding process should incorporate training and orientation.
“We need to train our clients on how we want them to work with us and show them that cooperation will not only make our relationship thrive, but their business too.”
Chetty shares that breaking down the client onboarding process into simple steps can help prevent overwhelming clients and ultimately lead to a stronger relationship in the future.
Chetty suggests the following processes:
1. Acquiring information
At the start of the onboarding process, gather crucial information from the client. To ensure that they are not overloaded with requests for information, it is suggested that a list be created which can be broken down into sections such as Payroll, Value-Added-Tax, Income Tax, Personal Tax and Daily Operations in the case of an accounting practice.
2. Compiling an onboarding questionnaire
A major part of the onboarding process is asking the right questions. A questionnaire is best answered when sitting with the client instead of via an email as more valid information can be extracted this way.
Asking the questions in person also makes the whole onboarding process that much friendlier. Make sure all answers have been jotted down and saved to a cloud storage platform like Microsoft One Drive so that the information is secure.
3. Creating an engagement letter
An engagement letter should contain what the client’s needs are and what services and solutions the business will be providing, along with their fee structure. Once the client has gone through this and agreed to all stipulated details, the business owner is less likely to experience any scope creep and, going forward, there will be no surprises for either party.
An app that can assist with this is Practice Ignition which turns proposal, terms of service and payment collection into a single, smart contract.
4. Sending a welcome package
This should consist of a cheat sheet with all of your business information and some key dates that the client would need to remember, as well as answers to some common questions – anything that would be beneficial to the client in the beginning of this journey.
A small gift, such as a branded pen or t-shirt, can also be included. Essentially, the welcome package should make the client feel special and not like just another number in the practice.
5. Getting the project going
This is where the business owner takes all the information gathered and performs the duties as per the engagement letter. Once the work is rolling out, inform the client about the turnaround times that they can expect so that they are always in the picture.
Whether this is done face-to-face, telephonically or over a virtual call, it is vital to check in with the client. Ask them how their business is going. This makes the client feel that your business is to help their business grow. Remember that if issues are caught early, the client will be happier.