10 tips for building strong relationships through the new client onboarding process
10 tips for building strong relationships through the new client onboarding process
Over the last few weeks at The Savvy Bookkeeper, we’ve been talking all things onboarding on the podcast. We began by defining what client onboarding is, discussed why it is so important to get right and then worked through each of the key phases of the process. From here, we were then excited to share our practical and easy to follow templates to make the entire process as easy for you as possible. Perfect for any client onboarding checklist, read ahead as we share our top 10 tips for building strong bookkeeping relationships through customer onboarding.
As defined in podcast episode #090, client onboarding is the process of welcoming new clients to your bookkeeping business. Whilst it may seem a little trivial, building strong relationships from an early stage in the client onboarding process is particularly important for the ongoing success of your business. It will also make your day to day work a lot more enjoyable – as well as for your client! Here are our top tips for getting the process right:
Tip 1: Personalise the Experience
Before you even begin, it’s important to do some research and careful planning on your client. By doing so, you can then personalise their experience from the get-go – giving them the confidence that they made the right decision in choosing you as their new bookkeeper.
Our tip within this tip is to know that personalising a client’s experience does not mean a heap of extra work. Whilst some things are manual, a great way to personalise their experience is through the use of automated emails. At The Savvy Bookkeeper, we work to a 50/50 or 70/30 structure of automation versus manual. Tools such as auto-propagation can assist by automatically inputting client data into pre-set email templates.
Tip 2: Thinking Long Term
Like building your business, when it comes to customer onboarding, the long terms is just as important, if not more important than the short term. Typically, at the beginning of the onboarding process, you are likely to think about the short-term onboarding such as the necessary information you need from your client and organising access to their accounts. However, what you really should be focussing on is the lifetime value of your client.
By working on a plan to keep in regular contact with your client including welcome emails, follow ups and concurrent reviews, your client will appreciate your loyalty and almost immediately gain trust in your brand. As they say, it is both cheaper and easier to retain a customer than acquire one.
Tip 3: Educating the Client
As part of coming on board as their bookkeeper, it is important that you educate your client. After all, they are likely to have no idea what bookkeeping is or how it works. This involves carefully running through each aspect of the onboarding business and explaining why it is important. It also includes working with them on an ongoing basis to ensure that you’re supporting them throughout any projects they may be working on or goals they are working towards.
Signing your clients up to nurturing newsletters and providing them with free resources are also great ways to educate them during the new client onboarding process. By doing this, you are giving them the confidence that they made the right decision in you, but also providing them with an insight into what they can expect from your service into the future.
Tip 4: They are the Client – You are the Bookkeeper
Tip four explores the concept of everyone understanding exactly what their role is. This goes for any industry, however we hear it time and time again from other fellow bookkeepers – that their clients are at their ‘beck-n-call’ 24/7. This relationship will create a negative atmosphere for both parties and most often will not lead to successful long-term client relationships.
To avoid this very situation, we encourage establishing clear boundaries, right from the very beginning – that being during the customer on boarding process. In doing so, we encourage that all expectations for yourself as the bookkeeper and your client are clearly spelt out. This will avoid any confusion or lack of communication on the matter. Furthermore, this will remind the client that they are working with a service that has its own guidelines and boundaries they need to adhere to, as opposed to dealing with a hired employee.
Tip 5: Keep an Updated Contact Record
The key to this tip is to avoid your clients having to repeat themselves time and time again. Quite frankly, when they have to repeat themselves, it’s not only annoying for both parties, but its certainly also inefficient. To avoid this very scenario, we suggest that you take detailed notes during the new client onboarding process so you can document everything about them. By doing so, every time you’re working on the client’s project of speaking to them on the phone you can reference what they have already told you in the past.
The best way to go about this is by using a customer relationship management program, or commonly known as a CRM. If you weren’t to use a CRM, other programs work well for this purpose such as Airtable, which is a great option for bookkeepers.
Tip 6: Make the Handover Smooth
This is one of the most important things you can do as a bookkeeper and it goes for any business or agency. When dealing with clients, it is important that internal communication within the business is strong, especially when it comes to hand over. Handover may occur when an employee leaves a nosiness and involves handing over their client to another employee to manage.
To ensure the handover process is as smooth as possible, there are a few things that need to be documented for the business which include a detailed record of that client including am personalised or streamlined information about them. For the client, it is crucial that they are kept well informed as to what is happening during the handover process and what the next steps are.
Tip 7: Let Your Client Know the Next Step
Following on from tip six, communication is key when it comes to working with your client. It is always particularly important to keep your client in the loop as to what the next steps are in the onboarding process – especially considering most have no idea as to what a bookkeeper even does.
When communicating the next steps with your client, always provide a logical breakdown as to the different phases of the onboarding process so they know what to expect. Providing a plan for the ongoing bookkeeping workflow is also a great idea. From experience here at The Savvy Bookkeeper, we can guarantee that if you do this well, 90% of your clients questions will be answered in an instant – saving you time and them any frustration!
Tip 8: Client Onboarding Takes Time
Unfortunately, nothing worth doing in life comes easy and this also relates to the onboarding process for a bookkeeper. When you onboard a new bookkeeping client, the process isn’t done from the moment you have access to their accounts. As we have mentioned across our previous handy tips, there is a lot involved throughout the process and when followed correctly, you are on your way to establishing a solid long-term relationship with your client.
Realistically, if you are wanting to establish strong relationships with your bookkeeping clients, your client onboarding process should typically take around 30 to 90 days to complete with a quarterly, bi-annual or annual follow up’s to check in. This ensures that you’re nurturing your client relationship for the best chance of client retention and long-term success. If that isn’t enough to motivate you, the happier your clients are, the more positive reviews you’ll have a chance to obtain – perfect for lead generation!
Tip 9: Repeat Yourself Frequently
Whilst we’ve spoken about ensuring that your client doesn’t need to repeat themselves, this doesn’t go the same way for you as the bookkeeper. That’s right – tip nine is to repeat yourself ALL THE TIME!
By repeating yourself constantly, you will be able to ensure your client expectations are aligned with what you are doing and that there is no confusion at any stage of the onboarding process. This will also help your clients understand what they can expect from you on an ongoing basis.
Tip 10: Be Clear with Your Expectations
Tip nine perfectly rolls into our tenth and final tip for building strong bookkeeping relationships during the onboarding process and this tip is all about expectations. With any good relationship, both parties need to have a clear understanding of what is expected to make the relationship a success.
When considering bookkeeping clients, this argument is 100% accurate – after all, they’re not mind readers! They’re engaging with you for a reason and that is likely to be because they are time poor, don’t know anything about bookkeeping or in many cases – don’t like doing it. So be clear with your expectations during the onboarding process, educate them along the way and you’ll be on your way to a strong, happy and long-term relationship with your clients.
Get to it!
We hope that you found our 10 tips for building strong relationships through the new client onboarding process helpful! If you haven’t already done so, take a moment now and write out a client onboarding checklist to ensure that you’ve have ticked every box to ensure that you are maximising your success for a strong and long term relationship with each of your clients. Happy planning!
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Check out the previous 3 episodes to get yourself up-to-date with the onboarding process:
- Episode #092 – Onboarding Templates
- Episode #091 – Optimised Onboarding Workflow
- Episode #090 – Onboarding and Why is it Important
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