Whenever I would start a new role, my husband’s guidance would be: “Start how you plan to finish.” He knew my tendencies to start something full-court press (or giving it 110%) and then wonder why people were surprised six months in when I decided to leave the office before 6 pm.
How you start and end something is very important. When you first begin something, it can be difficult – and even uncomfortable – to think about it ending. But let’s be honest… nothing lasts forever.
When onboarding new clients, you have to ask yourself what’s important to you and your brand. What do you want them to know? How do you want to manage the relationship throughout the service or after the service is completed?
In my consulting practice, I work with clients on planning and completing projects. I work with clients on improving processes. I want to make sure that my clients’ experience working with my company and team members is positive. How I onboard the relationship is important to starting well, learning from the engagement, holding to sound business practices, and ending well.
I want to make sure that our communication is clear and bidirectional. In addition to making sure that my team has a clear view of success that matches up with our client, I want to do several different things:
1. Ensure that I am clear on my client’s processes for accounts payable. Do I need to reference a purchase order? Where/who do we need to send invoices to? Do we need to share our account information?
2. Which contacts at the client site do we want to maintain in our CRM? Who do we want to send client reports to? Newsletters? Who is the contact we want to send client thank-you gifts to?
3. How often do we want to get feedback on our performance with surveys? We need to set that up. Building your specific onboarding process requires you to map out your vision for your customer’s experience.
4. Will this relationship benefit from a monthly check-in? A biweekly check-in? Let’s get the check-ins scheduled with the right people.
5. What’s the plan and routine for the weekly report? What format works best to communicate progress or challenges? Onboarding for consulting services is all about relationships and relationships require hands-on connections.
Just as important for setting ourselves up to perform well using sound onboarding routines, we also need to close well. Let’s make sure we give thought to how to offboard a current client. The offboarding process can play a huge role in whether or not that client decides to work with you again in the future.
Are there any procurement processes that you need to close out? Do you want to add any other contacts from the client to your company’s mailing list?
Do you plan to issue a close-out survey? Update the client in your CRM so that all efforts you apply to inactive clients are applied to them, like holiday cards and company news. Do you have a routine to review feedback and act against it? Consider sending a close-out thank you note to leave a lasting impression.
That’s the cycle: Start well. Finish well. Repeat.
Holloway Consulting Group is an Atlanta-based firm helping corporate technology teams all over the world set goals, create plans, and solve complex problems. We aim to service organizations through our training, coaching, and project management programs. Schedule a complimentary discovery call to learn more about how we can help you and your organization.