According to the Across the world 30% of new businesses fail within 2 years, and 50% fail within five years. Getting customers is only the beginning – the profit is in retaining them. Often onboarding clients is an exciting and positive experience, and the client has no problem making adjustments to allow for your locations, schedules, or staffing approaches. Sometimes they are less than thrilled. Regardless of what they may find difficult to cope with, there are some things you can do to make their transition easier.
To ensure that the future relationship will fill their needs, you have to ask the right questions. Every client and service is different, but in general you should:
* Exchange contact information on all the staff you’ll each be dealing with
* Be clear on budget and billing information
* Ask about websites, publications, and other resources to learn more about their business
* Work out schedules and time constraints for providing set-up or training
* Acquire any details you need to add to our own CRM files
* Familiarize yourself with sales details so you know exactly what was discussed in the sales process.
For some clients, it can be enough to provide a form they can take back to their offices to fill out or obtain approval on. Likely it will take several face-to-face meetings or phone calls to have the whole process defined and documented, so you should appoint someone on your staff to be the client’s contact within your organization.
Many business people spend a good part of their day negotiating. Negotiation skills are important even after the contract has been signed. They are a valuable asset in dealing with clients, staff, and stakeholders. Being a good negotiator allows you to build and improve on business relationships. It makes the experience of onboarding clients easier and more efficient. Instead of trying to force them to your way of thinking, you need to reach agreements and find solutions. Every manager should consider implementing some level of negotiations related training with their staff for the benefit of the entire organization.
Clients likely start with their own expectations and assumptions which can lead to conflicts if you see things differently and don’t take the trouble to clarify the details. Everyone should be on the same page as far as what the goal is and how it will happen. Explain your business processes so there is a level of transparency to what you’re doing and there are no surprises. Outline your workflow schedules and capacities and let them know why you do things the way you do- but be open to suggestions. Facility tours are a good idea, but informational websites and videos can be an excellent way to familiarize them with your business around busy tasks. Anticipate and prepare for questions.
Provide internal tools
Once you have all the details on your new client you can enter them into your own CRM or project management applications. You need some sort of system in place to track your progress with and orders from this new account. It can also help to set up alternate accounts and forms of payment processing to make things more convenient for the client. You’ll want a means of reporting results, both internally and to the client. An excellent solution is a web-based dashboard where your client can log in and review their order history along with the status of open orders.
You should also understand what these new clients are costing you. Keep track of unforeseen expenses such as preferred discounts or picking up the tab for meetings. All these things should be accounted for in your bottom line. Here’s one way to look at average client acquisition costs. Client onboarding can take some time, but with the right information and an open and negotiable set of expectations, doing it correctly can mean a profitable long-term relationship.
By: Dennis Hung