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7 client onboarding best practices (+ a tool to boost results)

Explore the 7 best practices for effective client onboarding. Also, discover a unique tool that makes the client onboarding smooth.
February 16, 2023
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Aswinchandar M

Onboarding is one of the most crucial steps in a client’s journey with your business.

To win your clients’ hearts, follow our seven client onboarding best practices and check out two great examples of effective customer onboarding processes.

We’ll also explain why onboarding is important and highlight a powerful onboarding tool to help you on this journey.

What is client onboarding?

The series of steps involved in setting up a new client for success with your business is referred to as client onboarding.

The customer onboarding experience may involve the following:

  1. Data collection via intake forms
  2. Kickoff meetings
  3. A product tour
  4. Setting up tools and processes to get engagement started between companies
  5. Configurations
  6. Integrations
  7. Customer feedback
  8. Data migrations

During the initial stages of building relationships with new customers, you want to build a healthy rapport with them, answer their questions, and get on the same page.

Client or customer onboarding focuses on customer retention rather than simply providing services for a new user.

After all, the ultimate goal is to create a long-term relationship between you and your client. 

So how can you pave the way for a smooth and successful onboarding flow?

Let’s find out.

7 best practices to build successful relationships through client onboarding

The perfect client onboarding experience is more than just teaching clients how to use your product or service. There is no one-size-fits-all onboarding strategy.

Your onboarding checklist needs four components:

  1. Customization
  2. Personalization
  3. Retention
  4. Loyalty

So, what makes for a delightful client onboarding experience?

The short answer: Any onboarding process that helps your client reach their aha moment early on provides an excellent onboarding experience. The aha moment is the point in the customer journey where the customer experiences the value of your product or service firsthand.

Want the full scoop?

Follow our ultimate guide on all the best practices to help you shape a perfect onboarding strategy that will lead your clients to delightful experiences.

1. Be the early bird

Prepare for the beginning. When establishing relationships with a new client, well-planned onboarding is half the battle won. And how you begin defines how it will continue.

An in-app digital onboarding message or warm welcome email can go a long way!

Don't jump straight to your implementation. It would help if you had a pre-kickoff to align with the client on various elements of the discovery.

When you begin kickoff meetings, ensure that the right people attend your meeting, set the agenda the right way, establish communication expectations, and so on.

Perfectly executed kickoffs can:

  1. Ensure that there are no surprises down the road
  2. Align with your clients on the goals and desired outcomes
  3. Guarantee that there will be adequate preparation from both parties

2. Ensure smooth handoffs 

The sales process is only half the equation. The other half is about the handoff of a client from the sales team to internal teams focused on customer support services, such as Customer Success (who can provide a customer health score).

These handoffs and post-sale excitement require the utmost finesse to carry forward and sustain the client’s interest in your offering.

A smooth handoff is about more than just the information and knowledge passed. It’s how you articulate the handoff from one step to the next.

That’s where the customer service team comes in. 

Their responsibilities involve:

  1. Providing feedback to your Product Management and Customer Success teams
  2. Spotting weak links in the client onboarding process
  3. Resolving issues as soon as possible

Processes are always smoothest when everything is made clear from the get-go and everyone's on the same page.

3. Have an onboarding concierge

Concierges help you with everything—from booking your tickets to helping you find something you want. When you provide a new client with an onboarding concierge of their own, you know there’s somebody to follow them all through the journey and help them with anything.

Your tracking gets done, customer service can provide a more hands-on product walkthrough, and it’s effortless for clients to communicate at any given stage. This also reassures the new customer that they will never be left hanging and you will always have their back.

Remember, you want clients to be comfortable throughout their onboarding journey, not just in the beginning.

4. Have a theme for every time period

Give different themes for different periods of your project plan. If you were to break down your project plan into weeks, for example, it could look like this:

  1. Week one could be about choosing goals
  2. Week two may focus on the basic setup and configurations 
  3. Week three may be all about integrations and customizations
  4. Week four could be about review and training 

Therefore, by focusing your energy and naming these weeks after specific themes, you will ensure that clients understand it is about finishing up particular aspects of the client onboarding process each week.

Check out how Rocketlane’s timeline view helps clients see all the individual phases of your project’s timeline!

5. Focus on value and ROI

It is not all about getting the job done or completing a few activities on hand for an implementation and onboarding journey. It’s about keeping in mind ROI and value delivered to your customer every step of the way.

Focusing on delivering first value fast ensures that you're breaking down the project correctly and not aligning all deliverables towards the end. Instead, it signals that you're doing things iteratively and figuring out how to get the client to start seeing value faster.

Simply put, it is essential to bring that value orientation with you everywhere: in the plan, activities, meetings, and decision-making throughout the onboarding journey.

6. Use the 70-30 rule

Ensure your onboarding team does over 70% of the heavy lifting and that the client knows you’re working to ensure their success.

It helps to make sure clients don't feel overwhelmed. If there’s integration work that they need to do, create a custom product tour that takes out the effort required at their end for planning and solutions.

Your implementation solution architect must also understand their environment and give them the right steps. And if testing is to be done at the client’s side, provide them with a complete guide that confirms the testing procedures are smooth.

Codify your expertise and offer it at every step that needs their involvement and remove as many steps as possible from their side.  

7. Employ milestones, checkpoints, and a 'dream destination'

Creating the right functional milestones and checkpoints along the way is integral.

It ensures that you can showcase to the client that they have accomplished specific goals and motivate them to continue putting the same energy towards onboarding.

Your project plan can also showcase that your onboarding ends not at go-live but when your clients become successful.

The final goal of any client onboarding process must be to ensure your clients make your solution a part of their everyday life. Once you achieve this kind of value, your business’s customer lifetime value goes up, and you are more likely to turn clients into advocates.

Here are some pointers to keep it simple, easy, and successful:

  1. Have the right visibility on both sides. 
  2. Have a consistent approach that breaks down the journey into clear phases that you can follow to push the client through a specific process with you.
  3. Measure where teams spend their time and see how they can maximize efficiency.
  4. Use an all-in-one dedicated domain to improve customer experience.

These evergreen client onboarding best practices apply to most industries, so don’t miss out!

But before investing, you need to consider one thing:

What exactly do you stand to gain from onboarding?

Why is onboarding important?

A successful onboarding experience can turn new clients into loyal customers. 

It gives you numerous advantages, such as:

  1. Staying on top of scope creep: Onboarding establishes a roadmap for clients and helps preempt the changes that come with projects.
  1. Customer satisfaction: Demonstrating value early in the customer journey is key to creating a happy customer and can permanently shape a client’s relationship with your brand — for the better!
  1. Client retention: Providing tailored customer support to make product adoption easier helps retain clients and reduces churn.
  1. Company Growth: Having a repeatable client onboarding process allows you to automate, save time, and establish consistency. This will pave the way for smoother and quicker growth.

These benefits will help you create a rock-solid reputation for customer success and smooth customer service. Word-of-mouth always helps and may even convert a new user into a potential customer!

However, if you want to slam-dunk project management, collaboration, and communication throughout the customer onboarding process, you need to find the right tool for the job.

Dedicated customer onboarding software can help you organize data, increase project visibility, and improve communication.

If you need more proof, let’s look at customer onboarding in action.

2 examples of effective customer onboarding processes

Effective customer onboarding has helped notable companies optimize their customer onboarding process, for example:

1. Clara Analytics

CLARA Analytics is a US-based machine learning startup that uses AI-led insights to guide customers in commercial insurance.

Their challenges were:

  1. Workflow inefficiencies caused by a dependency on multiple tools
  2. Needing separate trackers to engage customer-facing AND internal project management
  3. Communication delays with customers on projects

Thanks to customer onboarding software, CLARA Analytics could:

  1. Improve their project collaboration with customers
  2. Unify internal AND external task management
  3. Embed external documents on the platform, meaning zero documents, data, or processes fell through the cracks

 In total, CLARA Analytics saw a 10% increase in customer satisfaction ratings with customer onboarding!

2. WebEngage

WebEngage, a marketing automation platform, didn’t have a dedicated onboarding tool. 

This resulted in the following pain points:

  1. Inaccurate timelines and missed deadlines
  2. Difficulty in tracking and measuring project progress
  3. No standardized customer onboarding process

With a tool that provided visibility, a customer-facing portal, and templates, WebEngage saw a 50% improvement in the speed of their digital onboarding process!

You can’t argue with those results.

What’s their secret?

These companies used Rocketlane!

Get the best out of customer onboarding with Rocketlane

Businesses often rely on multiple tools for document collaboration, resource management, communication, and so on during customer onboarding.

However, relying on multiple tools isn’t how you’ll get a happy customer. It often leads to confusion for both your onboarding team and clients, resulting in inefficient workflows and less customer engagement.

Luckily, Rocketlane’s all-in-one onboarding means you can reduce customer churn and streamline the customer onboarding process!

This customer onboarding software helps you organize information, gain visibility, share updates, improve workflows, and more!

Why not test out some of the stellar customer onboarding best practices you discovered earlier with Rocketlane?

Here are four fantastic features this customer onboarding software offers:

1. Templatize for consistency

This risk-free platform helps you deliver a consistent onboarding flow through templates. 

You can adapt them to target different customer segments, like:

  1. Industry
  2. Implementation complexity
  3. Company size
  4. Maturity level

The best part?

With project templates, you can reuse your best-performing templates for future projects in a flash.

2. Get a 30,000-feet snapshot

You can tick off another box on your onboarding checklist with Rocketlane’s visibility. This feature allows you to check project progress and customer satisfaction at every stage. 

No need to tediously send out every welcome email or status update. You can easily set up status updates within the platform so everyone can receive critical information without hopping between multiple tools.

3. Create timelines and presentations

Rocketlane’s presentation and timeline modes are perfect for collaboration. They allow you to present project blueprints to clients and improve communication, making product adoption frictionless!

The presentation mode lays out every project phase so you can specify what resources you need from clients and at what stage.

Additionally, the timeline view helps clients stay in the loop by giving them an overview of every project period.

4. Ensure brand consistency

Every customer has access to their own customer portal, through which you can:

  1. Create an interactive product walkthrough
  2. Share updates
  3. Assign tasks
  4. Receive customer feedback

The best part?

For maximum brand consistency, you can put your stamp on the customer experience with logos and themes to create a connection with your brand.

Optimize your customer onboarding strategy with Rocketlane

Onboarding is the start of a customer’s journey with you. Making a fantastic first impression is crucial for increasing customer lifetime value.

Remember to employ our seven client onboarding best practices to demonstrate the full value of your product to clients.
Rocketlane is the perfect tool to start with if you want to deliver a professional, consistent, and effective customer onboarding experience.

Try Rocketlane for free today to revolutionize your onboarding process and keep clients coming back for more!

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Shuvedha Subramaniam
Content Marketer @ Rocketlane

Marketing analyst @ Rocketlane. An Advocate by choice and a penwoman for the love of it. When the world zips, I like to zoink. Also, being happy by being kind.

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