What's the one thing we all want when we start a new project? For it to go smoothly and for our clients to be happy!
When you're in the initial stages of getting your client set up, there are many different tasks that need to get done. It can feel overwhelming at times.
That's why I created this checklist for onboarding clients. It'll take some of the guesswork out of what needs to happen when working with a new client.
Client Onboarding Checklist
An onboarding checklist is simply a list of tasks that need to be completed in order for the client relationship to move forward.
The purpose of an onboarding checklist is not only to ensure everything gets done, but it also ensures that you are doing what your client wants and expects out of their project or service.
Why is it important?
An onboarding checklist is important for several reasons. The first reason being that it ensures everything gets done in a timely manner, which saves time and energy.
Another benefit of an onboarding checklist is the opportunity to create better relationships with your clients by making them feel more confident about their project or service. If you are following up on all aspects of their project, then you are showing that you care.
Final reason why an onboarding checklist is important is because it prevents having to do the same tasks over again with another client or company. When something gets done once it can be reused on other projects if necessary.
1. Initiate with Welcoming Words
It's important to make your client feel welcomed and comfortable with you. The best way to do that is by sending over an introductory email that welcomes them to the community or project, wishing them luck on their endeavors, and provides contact information if they have any questions along the way.
It is your first shot to make the professional impression and it should be done with care. Personalized messages go a long way and you will remain top-of-mind throughout the project.
A nice gesture is to include a welcome gift with the note. Try sending over an initial project questionnaire for them to fill out so you have all of the information upfront before starting on their project or service.
2. Identify Client Information & Gain Approval
Creating one central place for all client information is incredibly helpful. You can create multiple folders inside of this folder to house everything from invoices to website analytics if applicable. The most important aspect of this folder is the resources for your client.
- Contact Information
This is one of the most important pieces of information to have. You never know when you might need it, so make sure you get all contact details possible including phone numbers, email addresses and social media accounts if relevant.
- All Approvals
Once you have identified your client's contact information now is the time to confirm that everything else has been approved. This includes the timeframe, budget, design comps and anything else that was discussed in your previous conversations.
3. Be Clear with Client's Expectations
One of the biggest challenges freelancers face is managing client expectations. It's important to be very clear with your clients about what they can expect from you and when they should expect it by.
Approaching this topic in an appropriate way may also depend on how long the two of you have known each other for, as well as their experience working with freelancers.
It's important to make sure your client understands exactly what you are going to be providing for them and when they can expect it by.
Be very clear on this point because the last thing any project needs is expectations that go unmet, deadlines missed or products not fully delivered.
4. Set Up Your Project Plans
Creating a project plan will help you stay on track and not miss any deadlines. For many freelancers, the first draft of their client onboarding checklist includes setting up all plans for how they work with clients.
This is usually in the form of organizing your tasks into manageable projects that can be completed within an agreed upon time frame.
It's important to be flexible when it comes to your project plans, because you never know what kind of curve balls clients can throw at you.
Nothing is worse than having all planned tasks completed but not getting paid for them so always make sure that whatever plan you create includes a contingency in case the client changes their mind about something.
5. Have a Kickoff meeting
One of the most important pieces to any client project is the kickoff meeting. This allows you and your client to discuss everything that they can expect from each other and what will be expected in return for their business.
The purpose of this meeting is not only to lay out expectations but also give clients a chance to ask questions or voice concerns about anything that came up during the planning process.
Making sure that you have a good understanding of what your clients expect from you is just as important, if not more so than what they should be expecting from you on their end.
6. Be Ready To Answer Questions
The most important part of the entire process is being there when your clients have any questions or concerns.
You can never know what kind of issues they might be having so it's very helpful to create a list of anything that you think they may need help with at some point in time.
This section should also include contact information for other people (if applicable) that your clients can speak with for help.
This is the part where you want to be sure and check in on a regular basis, asking if they have any questions or concerns about the project at hand.
Making yourself available will put them more at ease when it comes time to work together because they know there's always someone nearby who is willing to help when needed.
7. Join them to Your Client Portal
One of the best ways to manage client onboarding is by creating a portal for your clients. This can be as simple as an email address or link that you send them via email, but it's something they can log into at any time and see all of their project documentation easily accessible from one central place.
This will help make sure everything is organized and easy to find when they need it, while also adding a layer of trust between the two parties because every change or update made can be tracked in real time.
Make sure that your client portal is secure at all times and only accessible by you and your clients so there's no worry about private information falling into someone else’s hands.
8. Receive Feedbacks from the Clients
Insist Client to send you feedback after all the work is done. It is necessary to receive client's feed backs because it helps in improving your future projects and not repeating previous mistakes again.
Receiving this information will ensure that any issues are dealt with immediately, giving both parties a chance to resolve them before they become too big of an issue or inconvenience for either party.
So, if you and your client both feel that the project has come to an end and they are happy with what was produced, then it's time for them to send you their final thoughts on how everything went.
If there were any issues or concerns that came up during the process, be sure and address these immediately so neither party is left feeling unsatisfied.
This will maintain a healthy relationship with your client and ensure that any future projects are even more successful than the last one.
9. Refine the Process
After looking over what your client had to say, it's time to refine the entire process for next time. What worked well? What didn't work as planned and why? How can you improve on anything that seemed ineffective or incomplete?
These are all questions that should be answered after a project has been completed so there is no room for error going forward.
By taking the time to figure out what went wrong, you will have a better idea of where your shortcomings lie and can work on improving them sooner rather than later so that they don't cause any issues for future projects.
This is also a great chance to include more information from clients in case there are certain things about their business that may pop up again in the future if you work on additional projects with them.
By doing these things, you are taking the steps needed in order to ensure that all of your clients have a great experience when working with you and feel completely satisfied with their end product.
This will help them become repeat customers for many years down the line which is always beneficial If done correctly, this short meeting can really help you both start off on the right foot and set the tone for a long-lasting, fruitful working relationship.
Onboarding a new client is a big deal and should be taken seriously at all times. It's not just an easy way to get more work done, but it can also help you develop long-term relationships that will benefit your business for years to come if managed correctly.
By following this simple checklist of steps, you'll have no problem streamlining the onboarding process and making it as seamless as possible for your clients.
Now that you understand the steps needed to streamline this process, all you need to do is take action today so that both parties can enjoy a great working relationship moving forward!