Client onboarding checklists are becoming increasingly popular for businesses worldwide. Providing clients with what they need to succeed is crucial and checklists are a good failsafe to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks. Welcome email? Check. Data collection? Check. Software installation? Check.
There’s no denying that these steps above are important to follow. But beyond the client onboarding checklist, setting your clients up for success with exceptional customer success management is vital to reducing churn, increasing retention, and ultimately fostering business growth overall.
Kaitlyn Cvejic, a Client Success Agent at Wrk, shares what a seamless client success strategy looks like beyond a simple checklist.
Internal knowledge transfer
First up is Kaitlyn Cvejic who articulates that ensuring a smooth and seamless client onboarding experience is paramount for any business in 2023.
“It’s really a make or break event. If a client doesn’t have a good onboarding experience, they’re really likely to drop out within the next year or not renew. Treating it as an ongoing process rather than a one-time event is something that’s been stressed to me since I started at Wrk,” she says.
But how do you start off strong? Any successful RevOps team knows that you must start the customer onboarding process with a seamless handoff from Sales to the Client Success team—which comes before you even send the welcome email to a new client. And this step is what's often looked over when it comes to a typical client onboarding checklist.
Different strokes for different folks
There are several key items that should be included in this process that will differ depending on your business. But typically, a successful knowledge transfer strategy will start with the client’s unique problem that needs to be solved, specific contact information for the client, as well as contact details for any other points of contact that may need to be consulted in the future. It’s also important to share initial client expectations in terms of timelines, exact pricing, and execution to ensure everyone is on the same page as soon as possible.
This internal knowledge transfer could be carried out in a variety of ways, from a simple email to a meeting between the sales representative and the customer success agent.
For example, at Wrk, when a client signs a contract, an automated process is triggered through which our sales representatives receive a detailed form with several fields to fill out, like which process our client is looking to automate today, whether or not we have system access to launch our client’s first Wrkflow, and how often we’ll need to run the Wrkflow once the first output is shared.
Once the form is filled out, it’s sent to the first available customer success agent. This then triggers a welcome email that’s sent to the client with a link to their agent’s calendar to schedule an onboarding call at a date and time that works best for both parties. By automating this process, we’re able to get our clients up and running quickly and efficiently.
Defining success and setting expectations
During the actual client onboarding call, clients can define what success will look like and set specific expectations or goals. This also usually involves setting up users and, if necessary, gaining access to a client's internal system.
Prior to the onboarding call, Kaitlyn again provides some helpful advice to share with clients to make the most of that meeting:
“Have clear expectations within your own organization before you try to convey them to someone else. If internal goals are misaligned, you may provide conflicting information. Being on the same page with yourself before you try and bring your problem or process to another company is crucial.”
After all, what success looks like to you may not be the same for your client, and vice versa. It's important to adjust to how your client sees success while also bringing up your own ideas and coming to an agreement with them. The best way to ensure there aren’t “too many cooks in the kitchen” is to work with your clients to set clear and measurable KPIs to demonstrate progress toward success. Define a starting point of where your client is now and set milestones they’d like to achieve by working with you.
During the initial meeting, you can also discuss the next steps and the frequency and format of check-ins.
Highlighting key takeaways for all
After the onboarding call, it’s important to follow up with a detailed list of key takeaways and action items for both your team and your clients to keep the process moving forward.
For example, maybe your client needs to connect with their own internal IT department to provide you with access to their system, or maybe your team needs to work together to create a comprehensive strategy to move forward.
Having some sort of visual for clients to look at is crucial. Even a map with dates is helpful, as different people absorb information differently.
Maintaining momentum with proactive client support and management
Of course, relationships with your clients should never end at onboarding. To keep customers happy and keep them from leaving, you'll need to put customer support first. This will make sure you have good customer success management.
This is something we stress when it comes to our own interactions with clients and we even in essence extend the customer onboarding process with an ongoing partnership in which we prioritize transparency and proven results.
“When we deliver the results of their first Wrkflow isn’t necessarily when the onboarding is complete," says Kaitlyn.
“It’s when what we deliver to them has value and they can use it and they’re happy with it—and even then, we need to maintain it to nurture the relationship with our clients.”
At Wrk, for the first month of our contracts with clients, we send weekly emails to our clients to keep them updated on the progress of their first automated Wrkflows with us. Beyond that, we hold a monthly process review video call to thoroughly go over progress and discuss ways to improve the Wrkflow further. Lastly, we review the process quarterly and share the results with our clients. We also work with them to find other parts of their business to improve and optimize with automation.
Moving beyond the client onboarding checklist to optimize customer success management
All of this means that a client onboarding checklist isn't enough for successful customer success management. Lists can help people set priorities and organize tasks, but they aren't enough.
The conventional and more traditional client onboarding checklist might look a little bit more like this:
- Schedule a meeting with the client
- Review communication style and point of contact
- Discuss desired outcomes and how to reach those goals
- Anticipate roadblocks and make a plan to proceed
- Make sure you answer all questions
- Take notes and follow up.
Now, to be honest, that just felt like a whole lot of rinsing and repeating. A process like this can seem too rigid, not personal, and to make things worse, not adaptable. All of the points above stand in the way of progress and providing the best experience for your clients.
Automation is a tool that can help you streamline your customer success strategy. Like we’ve done at Wrk, you too can use our Wrkflows to help your Customer Success team thrive.