Are you looking to set your firm apart from the competition and attract (and retain) more clients? Getting client onboarding right is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. When done correctly, it can be one of the most profitable steps in any accounting firm's journey. But what does "getting client onboarding right" mean exactly?
The benefits of getting client onboarding right
An effective client onboarding process comes with a multitude of benefits for firms.
Greater client engagement. By investing in a thoughtful client onboarding process, accounting firms can ensure better communication with clients. This allows employees to understand their clients better, which in turn helps them build more meaningful relationships.
Increased value to the client. A good onboarding process sets clear communication channels so employees can respond promptly to client inquiries and requests and provide relevant updates. This sets clients up for success because they know what to expect and how to get the most from your services.
Better feedback from clients. An effective client onboarding process can help the firm get better feedback by allowing firms to build trust with clients. By building trust and establishing a system for ongoing feedback, firms can gather honest, actionable feedback to improve service delivery.
Opportunity to collect metrics. A good client onboarding process enables accounting firms to collect metrics from clients such as FTEs, revenue, and other key performance indicators. Firms can then use this data to gain meaningful insights into target clients and the effectiveness of the firm's services.
Improved processes. Standardizing client onboarding creates consistency in how a firm interacts with its clients. This allows the firm to benefit from economies of scale and ensures that all clients receive the same quality of service.
Higher client retention. An effective client onboarding process reduces churn because employees can ensure that clients are well taken care of and have a positive experience with your services. This increases their chances of sticking with your services in the long run and can help drive up client retention rates.
More referrals. A strong client onboarding process helps to create happy and engaged customers who are more likely to refer your services to others.
How to improve client onboarding
Many people mistakenly believe that client onboarding starts when a client decides to engage your firm and ends once you start delivering services. But onboarding begins long before a client signs an engagement letter and continues well beyond providing client service.
The specific steps you'll take to establish or improve your client onboarding process will vary depending on the type of clients you work with, the services you provide, and the technology you use.
However, a good starting point is to think about the following three lenses:
Before. The client onboarding process starts during the business development stage when you establish a clear understanding of the client's needs and expectations. This might involve having a conversation with the client about their goals, challenges, and preferences. By doing this, firms can ensure that they provide services that meet clients' needs. Once the client has decided to engage your firm, think about what the client needs to know, provide and do to be successful in working with your firm.
During. When delivering services, client onboarding should involve several steps to ensure the client gets the best experience possible. First and foremost, establish communication between the firm and the client to ensure expectations are met on both sides. This means setting up regular check-ins with the client, updating them on progress and discussing any changes to the scope of work.
After. Once you provide services, staying in touch with your clients is essential. This involves following up on their experience, asking for feedback and checking in regularly to ensure everything is running smoothly. By staying connected, firms can ensure that they meet the client's expectations and deliver value.
It takes planning, implementation, and excellent communication through every stage - from initial contact to a lifetime relationship - to set your client onboarding up for success. But by reviewing and improving your client onboarding process, you can ensure your firm is providing the best possible service to its clients. This will help to establish credibility with existing clients and attract new ones, all while improving customer retention rates and increasing referrals. Ultimately, this will help your firm to grow and increase its profitability.
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As the Director of Project Management for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Erin plans, organizes, secures and manages resources for the firm’s many service and program areas, including providing assistance and constant communication with clients and sponsors and serving as an even liaison. Her primary duties include overseeing and managing the specifics of all Boomer Consulting, Inc. communities, such as the Boomer Technology Circles, CIO Circle, Managing Partner Circle, Business Transformation Circle and Operations Circle.