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Profit & Growth Tips for Digital Agencies

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Your Digital Agency’s 8 Step Customer Onboarding Process

Posted by Nicolas Jacobeus on Sep 14, 2016


Each new customer’s onboarding experience sets the tone for their entire working relationship with your digital agency. It sets expectations of the quality and value of your agency’s services. Therefore, a good, structured onboarding process is essential: to provide all of your customers with a consistent, professional onboarding experience.

While the exact nature of your onboarding process will depend on your clients’ needs and your agency’s service offering, there are some elements that will be common to all agencies. Today I’m sharing an 8-step customer onboarding process, to help you create an excellent onboarding experience for your agency’s clients.

1) Welcome the New Customer

When you sign up a new customer with your agency, take a few minutes to welcome them on-board, before you jump in to discussing the specifics of their project. Some agencies send a small gift, some just send a card or an email – just a small token to make the customer feel welcome and valued by your agency.

2) Introduce Key Team Members

Now is the perfect time to introduce your customer to the people who will be working on their project. You should share who will be responsible for what; most importantly you should clarify who they should contact about different aspects of their project. You’ll need to ensure your customer has contact details for each of their key points of contact, and may want to indicate when is the best time to reach each person.

3) Share the Project Roadmap

Sharing the project roadmap – including proposed timelines – will ensure that your customer and your agency’s goals are aligned right from the beginning. It removes the risk of misunderstandings or miscommunications about what is included in the project, and how long it should take.

4) Introduce Important Tools Your Client Will Need

It’s likely that your agency will use particular tools to manage your client’s projects – for example, you might have a Trello board with tasks on that you want to share with your customer. In this case, you should make sure that you introduce the customer to the tools you’ll be using, and provide instruction as to how to use them – both in person, and in writing so they can refer back to it later.

It's important to be flexible with this – for example, if your team is used to working with Trello, but your client uses Jira, it’s worth trying to see whether you could integrate the two tools as a compromise, which would be good for your relationship with your new client. Additionally, you may discover new tools that will improve your agency’s way of working.

5) Set Expectations – on Both Sides

During the onboarding process, it’s important that your agency sets out what your new customer can expect from you in terms of deliverables, drafting and revisions, and communication. But it’s equally important to clarify what your agency expects from your customer. For example, you will need to receive feedback within a reasonable timeframe, and delays by your customer will hold-up the entire project.

6) Stress the Collaborative Aspect

Similarly, it’s important that you remind your client that this is a collaborative working relationship. There will be tasks your customer has to do, in order for your agency team to be able to do their work. For example, there may be information they need to provide you with, such as brand guidelines, or access to their social media accounts, or client database. Whatever it is, it’s just as essential to the success of your project as your agency’s task list.

7) Define How Sign-Off Will Happen

Before the project gets started, you and your customer need to agree on the ‘definition of done’ – a concept from the agile methodology that enables you both to understand when the project is finished. Once you know what ‘done’ will look like for this project, you also need to agree on how you will handle the review and sign-off process: how many people in your customer’s team will need to review it, and how will feedback be provided? Defining this now will prevent misunderstandings later in the project.

8) Remember: It’s a Human Relationship

During the initial onboarding process, and the continuing relationship that follows, it’s important to invest in the human relationship you have with your customers. Whether that means taking them out for lunch if they’re local, or having a regular call to update them on project progress, it’s vital that you nurture the human – not just the business – relationship with your clients. Your customers will remember how they felt about working with your agency, just as much as the quality of the work you do for them.

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