From XU Magazine, 
Issue 37

How to Profit from your Onboarding Process

Onboarding clients needn’t be a chore. In fact, it can be a lucrative process that’s easy for your whole team to deliver.
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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When we buy something, we want to enjoy it as soon as possible. Especially when it’s a big investment, like a car, for example. We can’t wait to get the keys, feel the steering wheel glide through our hands and the engine rev under our feet as we drive off into the sunset.

When clients sign up to invest in your services, they’re signing up to invest a huge amount of money with you... but they don’t get a shiny new object, like a car, to show for it.  

There’s no way to sugar-coat it; spending money on accounting services is boring. It’s your job to ensure the experience is exciting for them.  

So, how can you make them feel like they’re buying so much more than an accounting service?  

When you onboard them as a client, it’s their first experience of your world. Now is your time to wow them, not just when they’re a prospect, but throughout their whole onboarding journey.

The purpose of onboarding

Why is onboarding such a crucial part of your relationship?  

Fundamentally, the purpose of onboarding is for you to get the permissions and information you need to deliver the services you agree to.

You might not get all the data you need instantly; agreements can be honed and tweaked, but you do want to provide your client with their first ‘wow’ moment as soon as possible.  

The wow moment will be dependent on their industry, for example, a wow moment for a construction industry client might be the first time they send an invoice off and get it paid without having to chase it up.

Other vital purposes of onboarding include:

  • Ensuring you’re fully compliant, signing clients up with the right engagement letters and AML (Anti Money Laundering) checks
  • Making them feel assured they’ve made the right choice  
  • Managing their expectations of what to expect in your working relationship going forward
  • Turning them into a great client by setting the tone of the relationship on a positive note
  • Indoctrinating them into your way of working
  • Upselling additional services that you know would be of benefit to them
  • Getting referrals

The problem with onboarding

With so much importance on onboarding, what could go wrong? Here are four things to consider:

1 - It always takes longer than you think

From getting a proposal and engagement letter signed, to retrieving the correct ID checks, onboarding consists of a lot of back and forth between you and the client. If any part of this process is still being done manually, it’s an extra barrier for your clients, e.g., if they are still required to come to your office to provide a physical copy of their ID.

2 - You don’t have a dedicated resource to onboard clients  

Onboarding often isn’t considered regarding team capacity, especially at busier times of the year. If you were to take a client on in December or January, your resources are already stretched, so even if you usually have dedicated resource for onboarding, it is likely used elsewhere at this time.  

3 - The process is rarely inspected or improved

If you aren’t reviewing your process and making it better, you can guarantee that it’s getting worse. Because there will be members of staff who cut corners here and there, and over time, this process will deteriorate. So, it needs constant inspection.

4 - There are costs involved in onboarding

Human resource and software costs usually aren’t accounted for in your clients’ fees. Which is wild when you consider how important we’ve established this part of the relationship is, and how much attention to detail is required.

The onboarding solution

How can you ensure that your working relationship starts strongly, ensuring compliance is watertight and without stretching your team’s capacity to breaking point?

Start by reviewing your current process. Get feedback from clients. Then, create an experience map to envision how you want your process to be. It’s time to improve the experience any way you can.  

A quick win to start implementing this is with software that automates manual tasks. There is a plethora of software solutions out there, but few solutions that put your proposals, AML checks and Engagement Letters all in one place. GoProposal’s suite of onboarding solutions does that, with triggers that guide you through every step required to ensure your client is onboarded while they’re ready and raring to go, and that you’re compliant every step of the way.  

Whatever software you use, create an internal checklist, and train your team on that process – removing yourself as a bottleneck is crucial for the growth of your business and subsequently your profits – did you know GoProposal was stress tested on my then 7-year-old son?  

Meaning there’s no reason you can’t train every team member to use it and take ownership of their own client-base from the beginning.  

Some firms have started including an onboarding fee to cover the costs associated with it. Though some consider this controversial, it can be easier to implement than you think.

Start with a small fee with your next client who might be complicated to onboard. It’s ok to test and tweak until you find a price that fits.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the work you need to do to overhaul your client engagement process, I’ve created a FREE, downloadable roadmap to assess where you are, and break down the steps you need to take to turn onboarding into a scalable asset.

I did this with GoProposal members as part of an exclusive workshop. You can catch the recording below, along with your free scoresheet.

Why leave it there?

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