The client onboarding process is crucial in the accounting services industry. What differentiates your firm from the competition should be the level of service provided to the client. So, what exactly is client onboarding? Client onboarding is the process of bringing in a new client, welcoming them to your firm, discovering their needs, and nurturing them. This level of service begins at proposal development. It is vital to ask appropriate questions and listen to their needs. Once the proposal is won, the nurturing process needs to continue.
According to Jack Welch, former GE CEO, “You’re going to be defined by your first 90 days. You’ve got to act.” This statement was referring to employee onboarding, but the same applies to client onboarding.
Here are some key steps and ideas to help you along the way with client onboarding:
A WARM WELCOME
Once you have won the client, it is important to welcome them to the firm. Introduce them to the engagement team and include a video from the partner, a ‘business cheat sheet’, relevant content the firm has produced, and more. Be creative! You can also use this time to mail the client some branded merchandise—everyone loves free items. According to Hubspot, you need to seek to impress with every interaction. Onboarding is your chance to showcase why they selected you.
AUTOMATE THE PROCESS
The above content is great, but how do you effectively deliver without adding more stress and daily responsibility to your one-person marketing team? Add the contact to an email workflow using a marketing automation platform like Hubspot so the process is automated. Using a workflow, set up emails with new information and FAQs for your client that send every week or two. The process can be completely automated. Turn on the workflow, and you are done! Hubspot has a great workflow process, and I am sure platforms such as Constant Contact and MailChimp do as well.
This step may not be for every firm, but a different and creative way to catch your client’s eye is to engage with them on social media. Follow them and engage with their posts (like, comment, share).
VIDEOS, VIDEOS, VIDEOS
Creating a video is the perfect way to get your message across while keeping the client engaged. Develop a 1–3-minute video highlighting your firm. Practice Ignition, a practice management software, encourages videos especially in an industry that is perceived as “boring.” This will humanize the firm. I would also consider having the firm’s managing partner or CEO send a 1-minute video welcoming them.
Technology makes it very easy to communicate digitally with clients, but I urge everyone to also call. Set a date to call them after the client is established and has worked with the team. Prepare a set of questions to ask them. If they have any issues, it is important to resolve immediately. Having a person apart from the engagement team call, such as the marketing department, may allow the client to be more transparent about their experience.
Create a survey that is set to deliver once the engagement is complete. There are a variety of survey platforms, including Survey Monkey or ClearlyRated, specific to accounting firms. Develop a question to receive Net Promotor Score (NPS) data. I guarantee your partners will be very interested in this number, and it is a valuable analytic to share.
If you are new to the client onboarding process, test the above ideas with a few clients and get their feedback. What did they like about the process or where do they see room for growth? Use them as a beta test as you finalize your process.
Happy Clients, Increased Revenue
It is vital to continuously communicate, especially in the first 90 days. Client retention is crucial to firm growth. Bain & Company research showed that a 5% increase in client retention can boost profits from 25% to 95% (SmartSheet). Happy clients will become your promoters and your top referral sources. Let’s make our clients happy in 2021 and beyond!
About Rachel Pompeani
Rachel Pompeani resides in Cleveland, Ohio. She graduated from Ohio University with a communications degree and has been practicing marketing for over 10 years. She has experience with both B2C and B2B marketing and has worked in a variety of industries. Rachel is currently the Marketing Manager at Barnes Wendling CPAs, a regional firm with three offices, and has been in this role for three years. She has an array of responsibilities at Barnes Wendling CPAs, including digital marketing, website management, content creation, email communication, market research, and more. When Rachel is not working, she is busy being a mom to her 2 daughters Madison (3) and Mackenzie (8 months).