Acquiring new customers is expensive and time-consuming. In fact, Forbes points out that it can cost five to seven times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one, depending on your industry. That means customer retention is as important as customer acquisition, or even more so.
While retention involves taking the right steps throughout the client relationship, it all begins with onboarding. The right client onboarding process removes hurdles, sets the right expectations, and cements your business as the best answer to the client’s pain points.
Of course, client onboarding isn’t as simple as it sounds, and the typical process can be chock-full of issues. Getting it right the first time is essential, and you can use these seven tips to deliver a smooth, positive experience every single time.
You don’t launch marketing campaigns without in-depth planning, so why would you approach something as critical as client onboarding without the same level of detail? No matter your industry or niche, each client is unique in terms of their expectations, needs, and goals. Plan how you’ll address those and communicate that strategy to your client.
What will you include in your initial email? What’s included in the welcome packet? How will you introduce them to their account manager? It’s not required to have every second of the relationship mapped out ahead of time, but you do need an overarching idea of the onboarding process and how it will flow.
Your client onboarding process will go more smoothly if you have a welcome email sequence in place. That sequence can be as granular or loose as you like, but it should include a few key points.
First, you need a follow-up email to the last touchpoint (usually a call). This is your chance to thank your client for choosing your business and express your hopes for a long, mutually beneficial relationship.
You also need to periodically send informative “did you know”-style emails. These help your client get to know your services/products better, as well as introduce your team, business partners, and other important things they should know. It’s about building a relationship over time and gradually showing a client what you have to offer while making the experience feel organic.
All clients will transition from your sales team to other teams. It’s important to get this transition right. It can make or break the relationship. You must maintain the excitement built during the sales process as they transition to the team that will serve them moving forward. Your people must live up to the image built by sales, or the client may end up with buyer’s remorse.
This works best if your sales team and internal teams communicate well with one another. Internal teams should know what sales is telling potential clients so that they can continue the conversation seamlessly and maintain the ideal level of excitement while introducing the actual solution/service the client is purchasing.
A lack of communication can kill a budding client relationship before it even gets started. You can’t count on clients having problems during normal business hours, either. It’s essential to have someone available when they need you, whether that’s at 6 PM or 2 AM.
Of course, having employees handle email, phone, and website queries 24/7 isn’t feasible for most organizations. That’s where a virtual receptionist service can help. At Smith.ai, our live receptionists are available 24/7 to handle questions or concerns of new (and established) clients, ensuring that they always feel acknowledged.
Never assume that the onboarding process is going the way you planned. It’s essential to get feedback throughout onboarding so you can determine the client’s satisfaction level and whether you’re hitting the mark. You can do this in many ways, but client satisfaction surveys offer a simple, expedient means of obtaining the information you need to fine-tune your process and deliver an optimum onboarding experience.
Whether you’re onboarding a client in your law firm or developing an app for a new retail client, it’s essential that the experience is personalized to them. It shouldn’t feel like a cookie-cutter process where you’ve plugged the client’s name into an email template.
To build lasting client relationships, you need real, authentic communication and an onboarding process personalized to each client. That might mean having a single person handle communication with the new client, or it could mean using the client’s branding collateral in presentations and reports.
Your clients shouldn’t need to jump through hoops to work with you. The onboarding process needs to be simple and streamlined. Take a critical look to remove unnecessary hurdles and open up bottlenecks.
Put yourself in your client’s shoes and ask, “What parts of this process cost me time, money, or sanity?”. Once you’ve identified those areas, do what you must to remove them. That might mean implementing live chat on your website so customers can get instant answers without having to email or call. It might mean taking advantage of AI technology or investing in a 24/7 answering service to field client calls.
It’s more critical than ever to retain the customers you acquire. Strong relationships are built on trust and mutual understanding, both of which are established in the onboarding process. At Smith.ai, our virtual receptionists deliver 24/7 answering services to keep your clients in the loop. We can also handle appointment scheduling and email follow-up, and our live chat feature ensures that new clients don’t have to call to get the information they need.