When a client first comes to you, how you communicate and follow up with them, is an indication of how you’ll be as a VA. If you’re looking to communicate confidence, your business values and ethics, and even your general professionalism, you need to ensure all of your communications are on point.
And nowhere is that more evident, than with your onboarding process.
You’ve had that initial discovery call via Skype of Zoom and that’s part of your overall onboarding process. You’re happy to support the client with their business, now it’s time to get them to officially become a client. This is where the remaining steps of your onboarding process come in. [Need help with discovery calls? Check out this blog post on how to run a discovery call – and if you want to know the steps involved in the onboarding process, check out 5 fundamental steps for onboarding a new client!]
What is your onboarding process?
This process is the one you use to obtain all the paperwork, information, preferences, signatures and ultimately, the payment you need, to start working with a new client.
Typically, your onboarding process can include any of the following:
- Welcome letter
- New client consultation
- Terms and conditions of service
- Proposal letter
- Signed contract
- Details of the support they need
- Payment type and whether they’re retainer or ad-hoc
- Details of their business and main goals
- Onboarding form
- Details of passwords and subscriptions they have – including social media accounts (if needed)
- Access to any templates and graphics you need to use
- Clarifying how you work
- Details and booking of review calls and weekly check-ins
- NDA (non-disclosure agreement), if needed
- Complaints procedure
- Thank you note
- Access to collaboration tools, such as Huddle, Basecamp, Trello or Asana
As you can see, there’s a lot involved in onboarding a client – and that’s without the reminders that may need to be sent out, if things aren’t completed and/or sent!
It’s easy to forget something
With so much involved in the onboarding process, it’s easy to forget something, especially when you’re dealing with multiple clients at any one time. Clients could be a different stage of working with you – some may have been with you for a while, whilst others are new to you and/or working with a VA. Each one needs to have the right things in place, at the right time – and automating the entire process is the best way to do that.
And, with so many different parts involved in your onboarding process – from emails and phone calls, through to invoices and forms – it’s easy for you to forget or mislay something, if it isn’t all automated.
An automated onboarding process is more streamlined
If you automate your onboarding process it will offer a more streamlined and professional feel for your clients.
This initial stage of your business relationship is an important one for your clients. Not only are they excited about hiring you to help them, they’re also a little apprehensive about how that may look. They could be questioning how it works, whether they’ve made the right decision and trying to remember everything you talked about on your initial discovery call. The onboarding process is there to allay their concerns, reaffirm that they’ve made the right choice, and give them a clear idea of what happens next.
Automate your onboarding process to save time
It’s amazing how much time it takes, to carry out each part of your onboarding process, and time is a valuable commodity for both you and your clients. If your onboarding process is automated, you don’t have to keep typing out the same emails, finding the right documents to send over, chasing up clients for signatures and confirmation, or manually booking in calendar slots etc. You can set up a system where your clients are reminded of any outstanding tasks within your onboarding process, such as if they haven’t signed a contract, booked in a calendar slot for a review call, or neglected to return authorisation and/or passwords etc.
Organisation is key
Your onboarding process needs to be consistent for each client. Not only does that help minimise the risk of something being forgotten, it also ensures you have all the information you need to get started. But from your clients viewpoint, it helps set up expectations moving forward. If your onboarding process is unorganised, it’s not going to help reassure your clients that they’ve made the right choice in coming to you – especially if you’re there to help them get better organised!
How to automate your onboarding process
There are options available to help you automate your onboarding process. You can use existing tools at your disposal to automate as much as you can. This can mean setting up reminders on your GSuite calendar or creating individual checklists on your smartphone checklist or reminder app. You can set up an automated email sequence to go out in your MailChimp or ConvertKit account. Once you’ve added your new client to your email list, it could tag them and send out a series of emails with the important documents attached.
There are also dedicated project management tools available to help streamline and automate your onboarding process. Platforms such as Capsule, Dubsado or Zoho Flow can help here. Alternatively, you can create a project in Asana or Trello, for each new client.
And if you need to connect different platforms and software together, look at Zapier or IFTTT – they’re great at helping you be more productive with the apps and software programs you already have. If you need to automatically set up a board in Trello once a client has paid an invoice, or set up a new customer in your accounts package, tools like Zapier can really help, if there’s no built-in integration already available.
Your onboarding process sets a precedent
Your onboarding process is a crucial part of your VA business. Not only does it help you successfully sign a new client onto your books, it also sets the precedent for how professional your business is.
By automating your onboarding process, you’re ensuring that you make your client sign up process faster and more streamlined, whilst also showcasing how seriously you take business professionalism – something that’s essential for VA business success.