In this guide we will take a look at how to successfully onboard your agency clients.
Why client onboarding matters
Onboarding your agency clients is one of the most important parts of managing the clients of your agency for the following reasons:
- Saves time
- Happier clients
- More successful clients
- Leave a good impression
- Less churn
- Happier team
All of the above which means happier clients and more revenue for your agency, which we all want – right?
Here’s a checklist to successfully onboard your agency clients:
1. Set clear expectations
The first step (and probably the most important) is to set clear expectations with your customers.
- What your services you offer
- What problem you solve
- Who you are targeting
- What goal you’re helping your clients achieve
- What don’t offer (this is as important as what you offer)
Let’s take a look at DesignBuffs, a design service in the UK:
As you can see on their landing page they mentioned they do design for “marketing and creative teams” and that they offer “marketing design at scale“. They clearly mention what they do, who it is for, and what’s the goal they help their client achieve (grow their business with design)
They set clear expectations upfront which help clients decide whether their service is the right fit or not for them.
2. Consider productizing your services
Next step in setting expectations, you can consider productizing your services.
- Easier to sell: No more proposals, clients purchase directly one of your packages
- Clients pay upfront: No more chasing invoices
- Well defined service: No out of scope work or never ending projects
Again, taking the example of DesignBuffs they created two packages: Growth and Essential. Under each package they mention who it is for and what is included in each package (how many hours of design you can receive)
Instead of relying on proposals, back and forth, clients can simply choose what plan fits best their needs. In addition, there’s also a 15 days money back guarantee which takes the risk away from the clients.
Productizing your services thus helps with your agency onboarding: Clients choose a service, and off they go.
3. Create a webinar or demo of your services
When clients are still in the consideration stage another great idea to improve onboarding is to create a webinar or demo of what services you provide.
Here’s an example from Dark Roast, a design service based in Canada:
In their 7 minutes webinar they not only present their services but most important talk about which problem they are solving and how their solution addresses it.
A webinar can help clients to fully understand what problem they have and how your agency can solve it.
Alternatively, you can also do a demo call where you answer questions of your clients.
4. Close the deal
At this stage, perhaps clients have expressed their interest to work with you. It’s time to close the deal with them.
You can for example:
- Send them a contract to sign (you can use e-signatures tools for that)
- Invoice them and get them to pay a deposit for your services
- Send them a checkout link to your services and let them purchase it (this is what I recommend)
With ManyRequests you can send beautiful invoices or embed a checkout page to your website, here’s an example:
5. Gather all necessary information from new clients
Once your clients decided they want to work with you it’s time to gather all the information you need from them. That way, your team and your client can access them at all time
For example, you can create a client questionnaire or intake form with tools such as ManyRequests or TypeForm to gather all the information you need from your clients.
Here are some ideas of what you could include in it:
- Your client industry
- Your client goals
- Questions related to your service
- Any assets you require from your clients to start with (e.g. Branding guidelines, logos, …)
6. Create a client portal
Another thing you can to do improve the onboarding experience of your clients is to create a client portal.
That way all of the following can be in one place:
- Tasks and projects
- Your team members
You can also run automations with Zapier for example to know when a client submits a new request and send it directly to sLack.
Here’s an example of client portal:
7. Create an internal onboarding process
Once your new clients are onboard it’s key have a well designed process to ensure onboarding is successful.
- Are all information 100% clear?
- Is there a project manager that oversees the client tasks?
- What are the status of a project?
- What are the steps to complete the project?
Using a client portal software with a task / project management feature is a great way to do this.
In addition, documenting the internal steps to onboard your clients with tools such as Notion (so that your team can revisit them at anytime) can help ensure consistency in your agency processes.
8. Create a client communication schedule
The next thing you can create for your agency is a client communication schedule.
- Who is responsible for communication
- At which steps of the project you will communicate to the clioent
- How often you will communicate
- How fast your team will respond to customer enquiries
- In which timezones your support is available
For client communication, you can use a client portal software like ManyRequests which has a direct integration with most major live chat solutions (Hubspot, Crisp, Intercom, Tawk.to, …)
Common asked questions
1. How can I create a client onboarding process?
One of the best ways to design your client onboarding process is to visualize it with a flowchart and break down your client onboarding in different parts:
- Before your clients sign up (What’s on your website, what you offer / don’t offer to clients)
- During sign up (Gathering client info, giving a brief to your team)
- During project (How often you communicate, how you share deliverables)
- After the project is completed (Check in’s with your clients
2. What is the most important part of client onboarding for agencies?
The most important part of client onboarding is communication: Your offer, how your agency works, how you communicate with clients (and how often), and how you communicate with your team.
3. What are the best tools for client onboarding?
Here are some useful tools that can help you onboard your agency clients:
- Calendly: To book meetings with your clients and demo calls
- Loom: A simple tool to record videos to help your clients.
- Intercom or Crisp: To offer support and self-support with knowledge bases
- ManyRequests: Our tool, to create a client portal for your clients to submit tasks, share files, and communicate with your team.
4. How can I improve the onboarding of my agency?
- Improve your website copy (make sure everything you do is 100% clear to your clients)
- Make your clients more successful: Create knowledge bases and free courses or guides to help your clients succeed.
- Communicate more often to your clients