Churn is an ugly word. To the layman, it probably is used most regarding the dreadful nervous feeling in your stomach. To business professionals, it carries a different meaning but invokes the same reaction. When a client churns, it means they decide not to continue using your service, and since they’re usually in the driver’s seat, it could mean a sudden loss of profits.
When onboarding new clients, you are usually giving them the best look at how the business partnership will look in the future and convincing them to partner with you in getting aspects of their business done. The corporate world is no short of competition, and the common belief is that the minute your company’s service fails to meet the mark, you will be churned away like butter in a tub.
While focusing on your id verification Australia, product and delivery are obvious and constant missions for all companies, something less obvious is how the process of onboarding itself can be improved to reduce churn and improve businesses.
In this article, we will be looking at how most businesses underrate the onboarding experience as a factor of customer satisfaction, and how companies can change that.
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What does client onboarding mean?
Onboarding a client refers to the process that companies undergo to welcome and introduce clients to their business. Companies usually put those in leadership or managerial positions to do this task. This is because their client-facing experience and top-down view of their business allow them to provide a more informed viewpoint to said client.
The goal of onboarding is to let clients know what your company is about, how you do things, and ultimately, inspire confidence in how you will handle their accounts. Clients are usually as involved in this process as the businesses, as even after deciding on your company from secondary research, clients will still want deeper details and will ask questions as such.
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Why is it important?
Client onboarding at this point might sound like a nice add-on to the business’ core functions, sort of like an extra bit of service. This could not be further from reality.
Truthfully speaking, clients are just as human as they are business practitioners. No matter how good your company’s output is to them if right at the start of the contract your client is left in the dark and utterly confused, they will churn.
Did you know that clients are most likely to churn within the first three months? This is because clients want to minimize the costs of hiring you for more than this “probationary period” with an unsatisfactory customer experience. Another reason for this is simply that clients have deadlines for their projects. This means they will have to cut you off if your onboarding process simply doesn’t cut it so they still have time to find other contractors.
The client onboarding experience is also crucial for the following aspects of work:
- Reducing scope creep: A clear brief during the onboarding process and a proactive mentality at setting up the necessary communication and distribution channels for collaborative processes will result in greater clarity about the scope of work. This leads to a more efficient delivery process as the client will be at a greater understanding of what you are offering them.
- Ensures your processes are compliant: Remember that for all businesses, having proper compliance documentation on your clients is a small investment that safeguards your business from massive losses.
- Happier clients: Clients like being clear about things. Most clients have feedbacked that during the buying decision, contractors are chosen overwhelmingly from word-of-mouth and previous experience.
Know your stuff
The first tip here is definitely to be confident and know your company’s operations, figures, and processes in and out. Many companies fail at this point as client onboarding may come at an inopportune time and the only manager available may lack the charisma or the birds-eye view of the company to answer questions well.
You want to have your employees trained in your company’s ins and outs, and in common etiquette for client onboarding. More than that, you want to make sure you have quite comfortable spaces to receive your clients and dedicate time to thoroughly answering their queries.
Knowing your stuff also means knowing what your company aims to get out of this client deal. An officer onboarding a client knowing that the main aim with the client is to maximize turnaround time and another officer knowing that the company aims to hold on to the client as a long-term retainer will begin their onboarding very differently.
Optimize your initial phases
The initial phases of client onboarding usually consist of the following:
- Sending and negotiating the contract
- Due Diligence and Goal-setting
- Setting expectations and introductions
- Building the team
In your initial phases, the number of variables is much lesser, making it the simplest part of the process to improve. For example, having a variety of contracts templated by a legal professional for the different kinds of services your company provides to clients will allow for the first phase to be completed within the first few days.
Another thing you can easily prepare even before contacting the client is the invoice. You should know how much your company needs to price a certain piece of work and how much negotiating room there is. For each contract, there will be differing circumstances, yes. However, the underlying invoice template should be the same.
Next, make sure that the process of gathering documents for task planning and compliance is optimized as much as possible. In fact, it is common practice among good companies to have a user-friendly portal where clients can drop off necessary documents, all while simultaneously accomplishing goal-setting.
Lastly, before doing introductions to the client and to your team, spend some time thinking about how to break the ice pleasantly, and whether there could be anywhere better than a meeting room. Some common but great ideas are to meet over barbeque lunch or gather outdoors on a fair-weathered day.
In general, all businesses should be aware of the risks of churn. However, if your product is good at its core and your employees are well trained and on the ball, you already stand a good chance of retaining your clients.
If on the other hand, you find client churn to be the usual outcome of your firm, then your company has bigger problems than simply your client onboarding process. Either way, your onboarding process should be seen as an extension of professional service, and just as important as the deliverables themselves.
Treat it as seriously as you would any other part of the job and you will find clients will stay and the work will be smoother as a result.