Whether you’re a software/IT group, a company that offers engineering or architecture services, or even a marketing/advertising agency, you no doubt have something of an “involved” or “complicated” client onboarding process.
We do here at Aysling. As a company that offers an all-in-one B2B professional services automation (PSA) platform, it can take several days, or even weeks and/or two or three months for us to fully onboard our customers into the ins and outs of our robust SaaS platform.
And that’s Ok. A good thing, actually, because a) we want to make sure that our clients can use Aysling to the best of its abilities, helping them run their business as efficiently as possible and, b) client onboarding – when done well – actually can create a bond that helps cement your business relationship for months and perhaps years to come.
In other words, you and your newly-onboarded client will professionally be this close for years, generating continued revenue for your professional services group.
As well as generating referrals from these happy, bonded-to-you clients. More revenue!
Not-so-humble brag: we’re really good at client onboarding
Onboarding Aysling with our clients is a multi-day/-week process. It takes a lot of planning, personnel and time for both us and our clients to do it well.
A PSA is a complicated thing and while many of our clients have some experience with business services software, Aysling is new to them. So we make it a critical part of our client onboarding process to ensure we create a strong relationship with them from the get-go.
Aysling tips for top-notch client onboarding
We think onboarding your B2B clients is so important that we recently held another Aysling seminar on how we do it. Titled, “Creating Predictable Client Onboarding,” you can access at the link above, or skip that step and register for the recording now.
Look at the process from the client’s perspective.
Anticipate your client’s needs and reactions from the start. Remember: you’ve onboarded several clients before, but this client has never onboarded your services before.
As you’ve been working with projects for years, there probably are things you never think about anymore that actually are irksome to clients.
As example: purchasing electronics. Some require batteries, but provide no batteries when the item is purchased. That’s irksome, because when a customer has purchased the device, they almost always want to use it right away.
Apple thought of this in relation to its iPhones. When you purchase a phone, you want to use it now. Apple remembered this and so – as policy – made sure each phone is at least half charged right out of the box. Customers don’t have to wait while it charges; they can use the phone immediately.
Aim to think of the things that could be irksome to your clients and fix it before onboarding.
Create how-to’s to send to your clients before onboarding begins.
Create step-by-step walkthroughs and training videos. Provide updated on-demand webinars, etc. And, as you create these things, consider giving your customers a list that suggests they read this document first, followed by this webinar, followed by this step-by-step walkthrough.
Doing so not only will cut down on client overwhelm but also will reduce the time you spend in real time walking client through steps again and again, saving your company considerable time and even money.
Work with clients to discover who will be leading the onboarding process.
This won’t be just one person. Yes, there will be an overall project manager, but you also need to talk to that PM about whom else will be highly involved with the process. Some of these “champions” could be:
- Super/primary users: the folks who will be using your services the most.
- Department managers
- Sales managers
- Tech support professionals (if you’re onboarding technology)
- And so on.
You should get to know the people with whom you’re going to be onboarding quickly and well. And this should be on a rather personal basis.
Getting to know them as something akin to business “friends” helps create those critical deep client bonds mentioned above.
Define clear responsibilities for your client’s onboarding process team members.
Onboarding is a process for you and your client. They need to understand this from the beginning.
Define what you expect your team members to do. Do the same for what you expect of your clients team members. Write it down and send your client a written document of what your each team will do. Then hold kickoff call with your team and the client’s onboarding team leads. This meeting is a great time to go reaffirm these responsibilities and expectations.
Clients sometimes think you’re going to do it all, but you’re more than likely going to need them to do more than they think. Set these expectations in the kickoff meeting, or at least sometime before the client onboarding process begins.
Create small and large goals you and your client’s onboarding team members need to meet. Then celebrate when they do!
Start with small, relatively easy goals, goals that can be met in a day or a couple of days. Then celebrate when goals are met by calling out by name the person/people who met the goal. Possibly present them with a small prize.
This helps them become more confident in whatever they need to do for the project themselves and gives them a boost in front of their colleagues. Doing this also serves to not only make them proud of themselves but more self-assured that they can do that which needs to be done without “breaking” anything (either literally or figuratively) within the project or installation.
It’s also – once again – a terrific way to create a real bond with your client’s employees. They’ll become your champions.
Determine if you can go over budget and if you can, how much over budget can you go?
You’ve no doubt experienced this yourself: things always take longer than you think they will and you’ll put more true work into a project than you anticipated.
So this pretty much means you very well may go over budget both in hours and even money spent and so you probably should anticipate this as a given.
Having a system in place that can gather the information related to what you sold to your client, the budget you’re going to set for onboarding the client (and that includes hours and equipment) is pretty much critical for this, as you want to know your numbers as accurately as possible.
In a perfect world, this data would be within a system that everyone on your team can access at any time.
Aysling’s PSA is that system
Aysling’s PSA allows anyone you designate on your team to view information related to the project or even company level at any time. They will know to the second and penny how much time and money is being expended, who is doing what, how much and when.
Basically, Aysling can help your team onboard each and every client as thoroughly, efficiently and easily as possible, keeping track of each expense, helping you know how healthy the project’s bottom line is at any given moment.
Check out the webinar for more tips on successful client onboarding. You also may want to download our Five Finger Approach to Onboarding ebook, which goes into great detail about how to onboard clients successfully. You also can access the ebook through SaaS Brief.
Learn more about how the Aysling Professional Services Automation platform can help you run your services business.