As small business owners, everything we do is designed with our clients — our prospective clients and our current clients — in mind. From the way we talk about our business on our websites and on social media, to the way we design our process and our client experience — every detail of our business is designed to connect with, guide, and serve our clients.
That’s why the on-boarding process — the process of welcoming your new clients to your complete client experience — is such an important part of your business and client experience as a whole.
The on-boarding process is your client’s first impression of your process. It sets the tone for their experience ahead. And offers you a unique opportunity to ensure your client is prepared for — and excited about — what they’ll experience when working with you.
Today, we’re going to explore how to create an elevated on-boarding process, so you can make a positive first impression, so you can successfully prepare your clients for their experience while working with you — and so you can better ensure a seamless, engaging, and fun process from beginning to end.
How to Create an Elevated On-Boarding Process
The on-boarding process is the process of welcoming your new clients to your complete client experience. Like every area of your business, it’s important to know what your goals are and what you value — so you can design your on-boarding process with those goals and values in mind. And as always, we are hopeful that, by sharing our experiences, we can help you shape your business and processes in ways aligned with your definition of success.
Today, we’re going to explore:
- The foundational details, like the client contract and payment plan you present,
- The process of gathering information from your client, and
- Ways to educate and guide your client, so the process is smooth and engaging every step of the way.
Step 1: The foundational details like the client contract and payment plan. For many small businesses, the client experience doesn’t officially begin until the signed client contract and completed first payment make your client’s booking official.
Project management systems and client management systems have come such a long way over the past several years, so we recommend finding a client management system through which your client contract can be digitally sent and digitally signed. Likewise, we recommend using a payment processor which allows you to create automatic payment plans, so you do not need to manually send payment reminders to your client or manually process payments. Further, we recommend using a payment processor which allows you to accept a variety of payment options, so the process of booking your service is as seamless and easy as can be.
At With Grace and Gold, we use 17Hats (Save $50 using our referral link here!) for our client contracts and payment plans — but we’ve also heard wonderful things about Honeybook and Dubsado. By using 17Hats, we’re able to send a Quote, Client Contract, and Payment Plan all in one message. We believe a seamless on-boarding process means clear, concise communication — and as few messages to our clients as possible. That way, our clients, who are busy running businesses of their own, will have quick and easy access to necessary information.
When it comes to choosing the client management system best for you and for your business, we always recommend signing up for a free trial of each system you’re considering, so you can ensure the system aligns with what you value and with what you envision as your process.
Step 2: The process of gathering information from your client — their contact information, their preferences, and their vision for their experience ahead.
Now, you might be wondering, why isn’t our next step scheduling a discovery call with our new client? Over the years, we’ve found that, if we gather all of the details about our client’s preferences and vision first, we can prepare for a really successful and detailed discovery call.
Conversely, if we were to have a discovery call and then ask for our clients to complete our questionnaire, there could be overlap in what our client had already spoken to us about — and what they share in their questionnaire. Asking our clients to share about their preferences and vision first allows us to show our clients we value their time — and it allows us to carefully review those details and prepare for a really successful discovery call, with a foundation of knowledge about our client already in place.
We send along a comprehensive questionnaire using 17Hats. By using the same client management system as we do for our client contract and payment plan, we can continue providing a really seamless experience.
Step 3: This step is one we’re most passionate about, because we believe there is a lot we can do as small business owners to guide and serve our clients and better ensure a successful process — no matter what type of business you run.
We recommend creating a Client Experience Guide or a Welcome Guide to ensure your client has everything they need to prepare for a successful process ahead. Your Client Experience Guide can include, a checklist, video guides to your process, and written guides to your process. That way, no matter how your client prefers to learn about your process, there will be a resource they can read or write on — or listen to.
If we think about any businesses we’ve hired both personally or professionally, we always love knowing what step we’re on and what step we’re heading to next. So, by providing a comprehensive checklist, video guides to our process, and written guides to our process, we can equip our clients to become engaged with our process and to feel supported and guided from beginning to end.
This Client Experience Guide or Welcome Guide will look different for every business, but a great way to get started is to first break down each step of your process — to put yourselves in the shoes of your client, and think about how they will perceive all you share about your process. You can also think about your most commonly-asked questions and ensure you’re providing resources for your clients’ success.
Your Client Experience Guide can be an ever-evolving resource within your business. But, by simply having a Client Experience Guide, you’re creating a place your clients can always refer back to.
Today, we explored a few ways you can create an elevated on-boarding process — from choosing the best client management system, aligned with your goals and values — to providing educational resources for your clients, so they can be equipped for success every step of the way. We hope what we’ve explored today has encouraged you and equipped you to create an on-boarding process you feel proud of.