Best practices | October 5, 2023

How to onboard new clients? An easy-to-follow 10-step guide & template for the client onboarding process

Starting a new customer partnership is exciting, but turning that enthusiasm into lasting cooperation is the real challenge. Follow our checklist for the best customer onboarding process to gain new clients efficiently and ensure long-term satisfaction.

Client onboarding

Starting cooperation with a new customer and welcoming them to the business “family” is always a time of great enthusiasm. However, the real challenge is to transform this initial enthusiasm into lasting, fruitful cooperation. In this guide, we’ve gathered a checklist of best practices and valuable insights to help you create and maintain the best customer onboarding process. By following these steps, you can gain new customers with incomparable precision and efficiency, ensuring a successful long-term partnership and client satisfaction.

Welcome aboard! What is the customer onboarding process?

Customer onboarding is the process during which a provider guides new contractors through the steps necessary to become fully engaged, informed, and satisfied users of their products or services. This is a key step in building a positive and lasting relationship with the customer. The onboarding process usually begins immediately after the customer makes a purchase or starts cooperation based on the service and continues until they can use the product/service effectively in a comfortable, confident and safe manner.

What is the purpose of onboarding a new client?

The goal of a well-organized customer onboarding process is to ensure that customers get maximum value from a product or service, minimize any frustration and confusion, and foster positive relationships. This, in turn, can lead to customer retention, referrals, and overall business growth.

Why is onboarding new clients important?

Customer onboarding is a key step in building a lasting and satisfying relationship. The first impression constituting the first contact with your company and service is of great importance, because it can significantly impact their attitude towards the beginning of cooperation. At this point, the customer already has the opportunity to appreciate the value of your offer. The sooner the customer understands what benefits they can gain, the more likely they are to cooperate with you for longer.

Another reason to engage in this process is to minimize conflicts resulting from misunderstandings. New customers may feel lost in a maelstrom of chaotic information. Customers who do not get the right assistance and support at the beginning of their experience with the company may quickly become discouraged and back out. Onboarding minimizes the risk of losing the customer. Companies are more likely to invest time and effort in learning to use a new product or service if they see that the provider is willing to give them adequate support. Onboarding assures them that they will not be left alone when struggling to adapt.

The right preparation, support and education at the beginning of cooperation can bring numerous benefits in the long run. This includes greater loyalty, a lower churn rate and a positive image of the company.

What are the benefits of having a customer onboarding process?

Although some of the benefits of a successful customer onboarding process are obvious at first glance, others may surprise us. During the onboarding process itself, we can discover that effective communication, the rapid delivery of value and building lasting relationships with customers are important elements in shaping the foundations of the company’s success. Some of them include:

  • Customer loyalty: An effective onboarding process can help increase customer retention. Customers who feel confident and empowered to use a product or service are more likely to stay with us longer as loyal clients.
  • Faster delivery of value and fewer conflicts: The right onboarding strategy helps customers understand and realize the full potential of a product or service faster. This means that customers get value from their investment quicker. Onboarding can also help you find answers to many questions that could arise. As a result, you will spend less time and engage fewer resources in customer service in the early stages.
  • Greater engagement: Customers who understand how to use a product or service are more likely to actively utilize it. This increases customer engagement, which can lead to greater Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
  • Better chances of reselling and upselling: When customers understand the full range of a product/service, they are more likely to consider additional purchases or improvements.
  • Positive impact on brand image: Good customer experiences with the onboarding process can help build a positive brand image and the company’s reputation.

What are the best practices in new client onboarding? 10-step client onboarding checklist

Now it’s time to find out more about client onboarding best practices. Follow the steps below to provide an exceptional client onboarding experience.

1. Understanding the customer onboarding process: defining the basics

The customer onboarding process is your first chance to show the new client that they have made the right decision. This process goes beyond a formal introduction; it lays the foundation for all future interactions. By providing the customer with the feeling that they are appreciated and understood right from the start, companies can significantly reduce customer churn rates and increase retention. Basically, it is the cornerstone of a thriving customer – provider relationship, laying the foundations for joint success.

2. The importance of instant communication: building trust from day one

Once the partnership has been finalized, it is extremely important to ensure proper communication. Contacting customers through different platforms, sharing articles about services and case studies with them, or sending a personalized welcome message are examples of how we can take care of them. This step is crucial to setting the tone for further cooperation. An immediate response, whether by phone or email, reassures the customer that they have made the right choice.

3. Collecting data: the foundation for success. Using deep mining to gain information on the customer

Understanding the customer’s unique needs and aspirations is crucial. Why is this? A comprehensive data collection strategy, made easier thanks to detailed questionnaires or onboarding templates, provides invaluable insights. Thanks to this information, companies can start building a strong relationship from the very beginning by adjusting their services or processes to the results of their analysis. Remember that any information referring to the customer experience and their future goals is the basis for a successful partnership.

4. Defining clear expectations: setting a course

Avoid ambiguity at all costs. Set clear expectations for both parties, in terms of both results and communication. For example, instead of using the vague phrase “increase traffic on the site”, try using “increase traffic by 30% over the next six months using SEO best practices”. Such transparency ensures compliance, with both parties working together towards common goals.

5. Team meetings: collaboration is best is when everyone is on the same side

Onboarding works for both of you. While understanding the customer is essential, it is equally important that the customer understands your team. Introduce the client to the team members they’ll be working with, from seniors and account managers to entry-level employees. Regular team meetings (e.g., Agile meetings) foster a unified approach and build a sense of common purpose, ensuring that the client’s goals become the goals of everyone involved in the project development.

6. Quick wins: prove your business value at an early stage by securing trust with measurable results

Deliver measurable results to strengthen trust. Quick wins, even if they are small, strengthen trust. Optimizing your landing page, improving your marketing campaign, or streamlining your business process can be the initial successes that pave the way for more significant achievements.

7. Constant communication: building and maintaining trust

It should come as no surprise that communication is at the heart of any successful partnership. Regular reporting, proactive updates, and a dedicated contact person (e.g., a Project Owner or Delivery Manager) ensure a smooth onboarding process. Effective communication builds trust, ensuring that the customer feels valued throughout the onboarding process and beyond.

8. Using appropriate tools for effective communication: technology-based onboarding

Utilize technology to improve onboarding. Collaborative software, video conferencing tools, and project management platforms can make this process more effective. Tools that automate repetitive aspects of onboarding can both improve efficiency and translate into customer satisfaction.

9. Building a strong customer-provider relationship: nurturing mutual respect

The onboarding process is the start of something that should become a lasting relationship. Surveying customer satisfaction regularly, collecting feedback, understanding the changing needs of the customer, and constantly confirming their decision to cooperate with you was right are integral parts of this process.

10. The future of customer onboarding: adapting to a changing environment

Business landscapes are constantly evolving, which is why they call for flexibility. A successful customer onboarding process should include this dynamic. Continuous learning, adaptation and development ensure that companies always meet – and even exceed – customer expectations.

Customer onboarding software tools and providers: how to automate the process?

Tools and software providers play a key role in speeding things up to allow you to effectively automate your client onboarding process.

Tools and software providers play a key role in enabling companies to effectively automate the onboarding process. So which to choose to increase efficiency, minimize errors and ensure the consistency and scalability of the client onboarding process? Below is an overview of some common tools and software providers available on the market:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems: CRMs are platforms that allow you to collect and manage customer data, interactions and relationship history. A CRM system and onboarding integration allow access to important information about the clients. This facilitates the process of adapting to the clients’ needs. One such example is Microsoft Dynamics.
  • Customer Onboarding Software: These are dedicated tools for managing the onboarding process that allow you to create and monitor custom onboarding paths, share educational content, and automatically notify customers. One such example is Gainsight.
  • Learning Management Systems (LMS): Learning Management Systems enable the creation and delivery of educational content in the form of courses, training and interactive materials. Integrating LMS with the onboarding process allows you to organize knowledge sharing with the customer effectively. One such example is Moodle.
  • Email Marketing Platforms: Email automation is a key component of effective onboarding. Email marketing platforms allow you to send customized and automated emails depending on the customer’s progress in the process. One such example is Mailchimp.
  • Workflow Automation Tools: Process automation tools allow you to create complex, automated onboarding paths based on specific conditions and events, such as a customer completing a specific task. One such example is Zapier.
  • API integrations: API integrations allow you to connect different tools and systems, enabling a smooth data flow and automatic responses depending on the customer’s progress.

A good client onboarding process – summary

The entire customer onboarding process requires diligence, strategy, and flexibility. Using best practices, the available tools and adapting the process to the specific needs of customers helps to develop long-lasting business relationships and leads to success.

If the comprehensive set of tips we have presented has piqued your curiosity, don’t forget to check out the FAQ section below! There you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions, which will further systematize your knowledge of the customer onboarding process.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best practices for onboarding new customers?

New customer onboarding best practices include having a defined workflow, setting clear expectations from the start, holding a kickoff meeting to agree on goals, collecting customer needs through a questionnaire, automating parts of the process where appropriate, and establishing a good communication plan to keep the customer informed.

How important is it to have a customer onboarding checklist?

Having a customer onboarding checklist is crucial. It is a valuable tool that increases the chances of completing each stage of the customer onboarding process successfully. It eliminates the risk of skipping important steps, thus ensuring a smooth and successful onboarding of both the client and your team.

Can a good customer onboarding process strengthen customer relationships?

Absolutely. A good customer onboarding process is often the basis for strong customer relationships. By getting started the right way, responding quickly to client needs, and providing an efficient and hassle-free service, you can significantly improve relationships.

What are the recommended onboarding tools to streamline the customer onboarding workflow?

There are many tools available that can help streamline the customer onboarding process. Depending on what your goal is, these tools can help automate different stages of the process, gather customer feedback, manage the sales process, and much more. Examples include customer relationship management (CRM) systems, project management tools, and communication platforms.

What is the role of automation in the customer onboarding process?

Automating the customer onboarding process can bring significant benefits. Automation can improve efficiency, eliminate errors and ensure process consistency. It can cover many areas, such as sending welcome emails, scheduling calls or emails, tracking the stages of onboarding, and more.

How can a customer onboarding template help with onboarding new customers?

The customer onboarding checklist is a predefined strategy that is helpful in conducting the process. It enables teams to carry out repetitive customer onboarding processes, which makes onboarding new customers easier. It also ensures that every customer receives the same high standard of service during the initial onboarding period.

What does a good customer onboarding process consist of?

A good customer onboarding process starts by welcoming the client. This is followed by understanding the customer’s needs, e.g., through a face-to-face or online meeting. An action plan is created with a clear indication of the next steps, and the process is automated wherever possible. Regular communication keeps the customer up to date. Ultimately, it is familiarizing oneself with the customer’s opinion that helps to improve the process.

How does the client onboarding process fit into the sales process?

The onboarding of a new customer is a key part of the sales process, although it is actually the beginning of a mutual journey. During onboarding, the provider is able to learn more about the customer, which can help to better specify the goals and strategies of cooperation and provide better tailored services or be a business partner ready to advise on business decisions. The quality of the onboarding process can have a significant impact on the customer’s perception and their decision to continue business cooperation in the long term.

Exclusive Content Awaits!

Dive deep into our special resources and insights. Subscribe to our newsletter now and stay ahead of the curve.

Information on the processing of personal data

Exclusive Content Awaits!

Dive deep into our special resources and insights. Subscribe to our newsletter now and stay ahead of the curve.

Information on the processing of personal data

Subscribe to our newsletter to unlock this file

Dive deep into our special resources and insights. Subscribe now and stay ahead of the curve – Exclusive Content Awaits

Information on the processing of personal data

Almost There!

We’ve sent a verification email to your address. Please click on the confirmation link inside to enjoy our latest updates.

If there is no message in your inbox within 5 minutes then also check your *spam* folder.

Already Part of the Crew!

Looks like you’re already subscribed to our newsletter. Stay tuned for the latest updates!

Oops, Something Went Wrong!

We encountered an unexpected error while processing your request. Please try again later or contact our support team for assistance.

    Get notified about new articles

    Be a part of something more than just newsletter

    I hereby agree that Inetum Polska Sp. z o.o. shall process my personal data (hereinafter ‘personal data’), such as: my full name, e-mail address, telephone number and Skype ID/name for commercial purposes.

    I hereby agree that Inetum Polska Sp. z o.o. shall process my personal data (hereinafter ‘personal data’), such as: my full name, e-mail address and telephone number for marketing purposes.

    Read more

    Just one click away!

    We've sent you an email containing a confirmation link. Please open your inbox and finalize your subscription there to receive your e-book copy.

    Note: If you don't see that email in your inbox shortly, check your spam folder.