September 29, 2023
10 min read

The Art of Personalized Client Onboarding: How to Make Every Client Feel Special

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Client onboarding is the first step towards a successful long business journey. In fact, according to the quote - “First impression is the best impression”, this is where your business gets its chance to shine in the eyes of your clients. A survey by Deloitte found that companies with effective client onboarding processes experienced a 63% increase in customer lifetime value compared to those without. That’s why we say personalization of the client onboarding process should be a priority for small businesses. 

But what exactly does personalization refer to? It simply means making products, services, experiences, and communications to the specific preferences, needs, and characteristics of your client. Customers will feel valued and desire to help you more in the long term if you follow personalization for each of your clients. 

Intrigued by this process? Want to implement this in your business? Let’s delve deep into the reasons why tailored client onboarding is crucial and how to implement it for your company in this article.  

The Importance Of Personalization 

Personalization goes beyond the one-size-fits-all approach and treats each person as a unique entity.  Here is why personalization is important while onboarding a client:

Building Rapport: Personalization helps establish a strong client-advisor relationship from the beginning. The more you understand your client's needs and preferences, the more likely they are to engage with your services.

Tailored Solutions: Every client is different, and their business or financial needs may differ as well. Personalization allows you to tailor your solutions to address specific client goals, challenges, and circumstances, increasing the likelihood of success.

Efficient Communication: Understanding a client's communication preferences, such as their preferred method of contact or the level of detail they require, ensures that you deliver information in a way that resonates with them. 

Increased Client Retention: Clients are more likely to stay with a business or financial advisor who consistently provides personalized guidance and support. Personalization can foster long-term loyalty and reduce client attrition.

Cross-Selling Opportunities: Understanding a client's preferences and financial situation enables you to identify additional services or products that may benefit them. This can lead to cross-selling opportunities and increased revenue.

Step-By-Step Guide On How To Personalise Client Onboarding Experience

Step 1: Gathering Information About Each Client Using Questionnaire

The first step - gathering information about each client is crucial because it lays the foundation for tailoring your services and interactions to meet their specific needs and preferences. There are various ways to do this, but one of the most successful and easiest ways to gather information is by sending questionnaires directly to the clients.  Onboarding questionnaires can collect essential client information, such as contact details, preferences, and specific needs. This helps the organization tailor its services to meet the client's expectations.

To craft the ideal questionnaire, let's start by creating a comprehensive client profile. 

  • Begin by creating a detailed profile (such as their name, contact details, and business or personal background)  for each client. 
  • Create a list of questions that cover key aspects that are relevant to your client onboarding process. 
  • Ask clients about their goals, objectives, and expectations regarding your products or services.
  • Inquire about the challenges or pain points they are currently facing. This information can help you address specific issues and offer solutions during the onboarding process.
  • If applicable, ask about the client's prior experience with similar products or services. This insight allows you to adapt your approach based on their level of familiarity and expertise.
  • Share the questionnaire form with clients through a secure and convenient method. You could send it via email, provide access through an online portal, or chat about it during a face-to-face meeting.

Give your clients a reasonable timeframe to complete and return the form.  If needed, gently nudge them with a reminder. The goal here is to establish a solid foundation by gathering the right information to make the questionnaire user-friendly and easy to understand. You can rely on software to help you consolidate client information from several of them using the forms feature of Cone’s Work OS software or using something like Typeform.

Step 2: Have a Contract in Place so that Expectations Are Clearly Set

A contract is essentially an agreement you establish with your client. Since it is legally enforceable and lays out all the ground rules and expectations for your business partnership, thus keeping everyone on the same page. Why is a contract so important, though? That's because it's your safety net. It stops assumptions from turning into confusion. This aids the customer in visualizing the journey and establishes their expectations for the upcoming weeks or months.  A contract that you create should touch all these points. 

  • The contract should specify exactly what services or products you'll provide. Be as detailed as possible to eliminate ambiguity.
  • Clear timelines and project milestones. Share the project milestones, so your client knows when to expect results.
  • Clearly outline payment terms, including pricing, payment schedule, and any additional fees or expenses.  Lay out the pricing, when you'll send invoices, and when those payments need to roll in. 
  • Define the roles and responsibilities of both parties. Be clear on who's doing what. What do you need from your client (like data or feedback), and what can they expect from you?

You can also include further information such as the termination of contract clause, and other legal stuff as you prefer. This step is highly crucial to avoid any misunderstandings down the line. It’s better to use a software to manage this step like Cone’s proposal-to-payment software that manages all the processes like contracts or proposals to payments automatically. 

Step 3: Get On A Call To Introduce Yourself And Discuss The Workflow

In step 3, it's time to establish a personal connection by getting on a call with your client. This call serves as an opportunity to introduce yourself, clarify expectations, and discuss how the work will unfold. 

Schedule a call with the client at a comfortable time for both.  Make the call on their preferred communication method, whether it's a phone call, video conference, or an in-person meeting. hare a bit about yourself - your background, your expertise, and what gets you passionate about the work you do.  This is an opportunity to create a personal connection and build rapport. 

Reference the information gathered in Step 1 about the client's needs, goals, and challenges. By showing them that you understand their difficulty, you can convince them that you have done your homework and genuinely care about their achievement. Make sure they are aware that you have been listening to them and that you genuinely desire for their goals to come true. Lay out the details of this journey clearly and in detail. It helps the customer visualize the journey and establishes their expectations for the upcoming weeks or months.

Encourage the client to ask questions and share any concerns they may have. Be prepared to provide answers and solutions. Send a thank-you email to the client for their time and trust after the call.

Step 4: Create A Plan And Communicate What Will Occur During The Following 2 Weeks

Step 4 focuses on the practical aspect of the client relationship. This step involves developing a thorough plan that specifies the precise tasks and deadlines for the first part of your engagement, which normally lasts the following two weeks. 

Where do we start, then? You know the objectives of your client, and you're prepared to make things happen. Next, what?  Identifying those immediate needs. What are the most pressing issues or opportunities that need tackling right out of the gate? This should align perfectly with your broader project or service objectives. Now, it's time to craft that customized plan. Create a schedule that spells out when each task or milestone will be conquered. Be realistic, though. Life happens, and sometimes tasks take a bit longer than expected. 

Now, set clear expectations. You and your client should know what is going to happen in the next two weeks. Your plan shows to answer questions like - Who's doing what? What's the end game here? Once everything is listed, document that plan. Put it in a format that's easy to share and access – a shared document, a project management tool, or even a visual timeline. To make it more creative, you can use Canva to create the plan. 

Before proceeding with the work, review the plan with the client and seek their input and approval. As you get their feedback, Start working on those tasks and activities, keeping an eagle eye on progress. And don't forget to keep the client in the loop – communicate any updates or adjustments as they happen.

Step 5: Crafting Tailored Processes - Making Personalization a Habit

By now, you've introduced yourself, set expectations, got to work on the plan, and you're rolling along. But personalization doesn't stop after the first few weeks. It's an ongoing journey. You've already started off on the right foot by personalizing your approach from day one. But to make it a habit, you need processes in place. 

First things first, assess your current processes. Take a close look at how you're interacting with clients, the touchpoints along the way, and the data you're collecting. Are there areas where you can inject more personalization? Probably. So, identify those gaps.

Once you've pinpointed the gaps, it's time to develop personalized processes. This could mean creating templates for personalized emails, setting up automated follow-ups, or even designing custom reports that cater to each client's unique needs.  Remember the data you've been gathering from the start? Well, it's your secret for personalization. Use it wisely. Personalize your communication, recommendations, and solutions based on the client's preferences, goals, and challenges. Show them you're not just a vendor but a partner who truly understands their needs.

But here's a pro tip: don't just rely on automation. Personalization should also come from genuine human interaction. Schedule regular check-ins with your client to see how they're doing, what's changed, and how you can adjust your approach.

Step 6: Streamlining the ExperienceThrough a Client Portal

For a moment, imagine a place where your clients can access all the information, resources, and updates they need at their fingertips. Seema amazing right? That’s what a client portal can do for you. A client portal is a virtual gateway to your world of services. Clients can log in, access documents, track project progress, and communicate with your team on this centralized platform.

So why is this such a game-changer? Well, it's all about convenience and transparency. Your clients may log in, access documents, follow the status of projects, and connect with your staff on this safe and centralized platform. it's not just about making your life easier (although it does that too!). It's about empowering your clients. When they can see the progress of their projects, access important documents, and communicate with you seamlessly, they feel in control. Creating a client portal also reinforces the sense that you're in this together, working as a team. It's a tangible demonstration of your commitment to their success.

Now, establishing a client portal may appear to be a technological task. However, there are many resources and software programs available that can assist you in making one that is specific to your needs. For example, Cone’s Work OS software software is one such tool that streamlines all your client interactions by providing a modern and branded client portal that enhances your firm's image and strengthens client relationships. Ultimately, providing a client portal is a win-win. Your clients get a hassle-free, personalized experience, and you get an efficient way to streamline communication and enhance client satisfaction.

Step 7: Regular Check-Ins and Feedback - Nurturing the Relationship

As we said earlier, Personalization doesn't stop after the initial onboarding phase. To maintain a healthy and vibrant relationship, you need to check in regularly.

So what do we precisely mean by frequent check-ins? It means setting a communication cadence that works for you and your client. These check-ins can take many different forms, including scheduled meetings, progress assessments, and casual catch-ups. Why are they essential? Regular check-ins provide an opportunity to touch base, assess progress, and address any emerging needs or concerns. They demonstrate your commitment to your client's success and provide a platform for sharing updates, challenges, and victories.

Feedback is another key component of this step. Don't just talk to your clients; listen to them. Find out what they think of your services, how they feel about your team, and any improvements they see. Constructive feedback is priceless because it guides your efforts to enhance the client experience further. It shows that you value their opinions and are committed to continuous improvement.

During the check-ins, use the client portal and personalized dashboards we discussed in Step 6 to provide visual updates and reports. This visual representation can make complex data more accessible and help your client understand progress better. And keep in mind that these check-ins are an opportunity to develop deeper connections rather than merely conduct business. Spend a little time catching up on a personal level. Ask them about their most recent successes, difficulties, or future plans. To encourage a good partnership, rapport-building is essential.

Wow Your Clients

By gathering detailed client information, setting clear expectations, crafting tailored plans, creating efficient processes, offering a client portal, and maintaining regular check-ins, you've learned how to cultivate a client-centric approach that stands out in a competitive landscape.

Ultimately, the art of personalized client onboarding is a continuous journey of growth and refinement. It's about adapting to your client's evolving needs, leveraging data to make informed decisions, and maintaining open lines of communication. It's about treating every client as a unique individual and showing them that their success is your top priority.