7 key steps to onboarding a new client

Discover the 7 key steps to onboarding a new client and ensure a smooth start to the relationship, including setting expectations, building trust, and more...

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Craft Author: Craft Team
Craft Team
Discover the 7 key steps to onboarding a new client and ensure a smooth start to the relationship, including setting expectations, building trust, and more...

Working with a new client is always exciting, but getting them on the same wavelength as you can be challenging, especially if they work in an industry completely different from yours. On the bright side, the onboarding process is pretty simple– if you know what you’re doing. Check out our seven essential steps for onboarding a new client:

What is Client Onboarding?

We need a good understanding of the client onboarding process to onboard a client properly. Generally speaking, client onboarding is the process of getting a new client or customer to work on the same page as you are. The process itself consists of two main parts, separated by your first project with the client:

  • The Pre-Onboarding Process. The pre-onboarding process focuses on establishing a relationship with your client and discussing what they expect out of your partnership. During pre-onboarding, you’ll gain an understanding of your client’s specific needs, concerns, and goals with a project. The pre-onboarding process also establishes your communication frequency with the client, as well as getting any legal documents out of the way.
  • The Post-Onboarding Process. The post-onboarding process revolves around feedback and working with your client to revise what you’ve spoken about in the pre-onboarding process. During the post-onboarding process, you and your client will meet to discuss deliverables, project milestones, and potential revisions for your first project. This is also the best time for your client to give you general feedback about your work and communication style.

Why is Onboarding Important?

Client onboarding is vital in making sure a customer is happy with your product and services. Through client onboarding, you can:

Establish a Connection with Your Client

By setting up a time to introduce yourself and your product to your client, you’re building a connection with them that can strengthen your relationship with them.

Encourage Repeat Work

Once the onboarding process is complete, you and your client should be familiar enough to continue working together.

Reduce Customer Churn

A good onboarding experience reduces churn; when customers see how your service benefits them, they’ll be more likely to view all of their available options and even recommend your service to others.

The 7 Steps to Onboarding a New Client

So, what are the steps to onboarding a new client? We’ve split the process into seven steps, separated by the pre-onboarding and post-onboarding processes.

Pre-Onboarding

1. Send Onboarding Documents and Intake Forms

After acquiring a new customer, it’s time to send them any onboarding documents and forms they may need for your preliminary onboarding call.

2. Have Your Preliminary Onboarding Call

The preliminary onboarding call covers your introductions and is the best time to discuss the specifics of your client’s project and any information they put on their intake form. This meeting should be relatively casual and a chance to raise any questions.

3. Fill and Sign any Legal Documents

During the preliminary call, ask what forms you and your client need to exchange to ensure the process complies with their legal requirements. After the meeting, fill out and send them any forms you need to sign, as well as any forms you need from them on your end.

4. Get them set up on Your Software

If you’re working with specific software and your client needs to familiarize themselves with it, now’s the perfect time to do so. Either schedule a meeting to discuss the software and how it works or send them a step-by-step guide on how to get set up.

If your client needs you on their slack servers or something similar, do the same.

5. Discuss Project Outcomes and Milestones

Discussing project goals and milestones with your client should also be covered during the pre-onboarding process. Setting up a client dashboard where they can access all relevant metrics, plans, and outcomes at any time helps keep your client engaged and even excited about your work. Use Craft’s free client dashboard template to easily create and share a dashboard.

Client Dashboard Template Swirl
Use Craft's free client dashboard templates to quickly create and share all project information with your client

Post-Onboarding

6. Begin Working Through Your First Project

Onboarding continues as your start working with your client. Your first project milestones are essential to the onboarding process since it’s your first time getting feedback from them. At this stage, it’s better to over-communicate and ask lots of questions to ensure you’re aligned with your client. 

7. Discuss Feedback with Your Client

After receiving feedback from your client regarding your first project milestone, take some time to discuss how you can streamline the process and ensure that you and your client are happy. Set aside regular time for progress meetings and review the milestones and project guidelines you previously set.

Final Thoughts

Onboarding a client is an essential step to a successful working relationship. It involves two main processes, the pre-onboarding process, which focuses on establishing a relationship and discussing goals and expectations, and the post-onboarding process, which is focused on feedback and revisions. There are seven steps to onboarding a new client, ranging from sending onboarding documents and forms to establishing a client dashboard and reviewing feedback. Doing so helps ensure customers understand the benefits of the service, reducing customer churn and encouraging repeat commissions.