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Many businesses spend a lot of time and money on marketing campaigns to attract new clients. Marketing is important but it is only the first step in the client conversion process. The path that you follow after you have attracted a potential client is called the client intake process and is a step many companies overlook.
If there’s one reason we have done better than of our peers in the Internet space over the last six years, it is because we have focused like a laser on customer experience, and that really does matter, I think, in any business.Jeff Bezos
Once you have attracted a potential client what happens when they contact you? Is the experience positive? Is every person treated consistently? Managing client inquiries should never be an afterthought. This is because all of your marketing efforts are wasted if you have a poor or inconsistent client intake process.
Think about how you feel when you use an app on your smartphone. When the interface is easy to interact with and the data is straightforward, the process is positive and the transaction is seamless. But if the interface has problems the process becomes difficult and confusing.
The client intake process is similar to this. When the intake process is seamless and easy for your client, it makes your job easier and everyone benefits as a result. This blog post will explain what a client intake process is and how you can optimize your own client intake process so it will benefit your business in the long run.
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Anyway ... sorry for the interruption! Let's resume the rest of the article.
3 Ways to Optimize Your Client Intake Process
You already know that good customer service creates loyal customers, more client referrals, increased brand recognition, and a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved. However, many businesses seem to forget this fact when it comes to the client intake process.
A client intake process is a chance for you to introduce your client into your business and get everything you need to be successful on their project. This is your chance to ask your clients questions and smoothly transition them into your business.
Your client intake process should include everything you will do once you begin communicating with that person. This includes email, phone calls, and in-person meetings. Basically, any action that will put you in contact with your potential client.
Make it easy for potential clients to contact you
In our world of instant communication, people expect things to be easy. First impressions matter and online consumers are far from patient. This means that if your website is confusing to navigate or if it is hard to get ahold of you, you will lose customers.
Your website and blog posts should include things like email links, call-to-action buttons, and a clearly visible phone number.
A prospect intake form can be a useful way to allow clients to seamlessly enter their information and begin the process themselves. This form should always ask for that person’s name, email address, and company website.
If your prospective client seems to be a good fit, you can send them a link to your scheduling calendar so they can pick the date and time that works best for them. This will save you from the hassle of emailing possible meeting times back and forth.
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Anyway ... we'll continue from where we left off above.
Once you have scheduled the initial call, you can prepare for the client consultations by having a list of questions ready. These questions will help you better understand that person’s needs and will help you determine if they are a good fit for your business.
Send them a client proposal
Once you have determined that this is someone you want to work with, you should send them a proposal. The proposal will outline the scope of the work, your responsibilities to them as a client, the timeline of your project, and any payment milestones.
You can use an electronic signature software to make this easier for your client. Always make sure the document is signed and you have collected any payment that is due before you begin doing any work for that client.
Here are some things you should include in your client proposal:
- Your client’s contact information and preferred method of communication
- Invoicing procedures
- A summary of the project and the end goals
- Time and budget constraints
Give them a client welcome packet
Now that your client has the proposal, it is a good idea to send them a welcome packet. The welcome packet will let them know how your working relationship will be structured and let them in on any other necessary details.
A welcome packet is important for both you and your client because it strengthens your boundaries and sets you both up for success. Here are a few things the client welcome packet can address:
- How you will be working together
- How you will set up meetings
- What happens if a deadline is missed
- What happens if the project needs to be canceled altogether
- Who to contact with questions
Now if a problem comes up you can simply refer back to the policies you outlined in the welcome packet.
The client intake process is often overlooked as a crucial role in customer service. Many businesses don’t have any real system in place and rely on back-and-forth emails and outdated processes to get the job done. While this can work it’s far from efficient and can lead to frustration for both you and your clients.
The key to a good client intake process is to find a balance of streamlined processes with enough personalization added in to ensure that the client feels like their needs are being met. Resist the urge to be too hands-off with your clients; automation is great but your client needs to feel valued.
By creating a consistent, streamlined client intake process you will be more efficient, have a higher client conversion rate, spend less time on non-billable tasks, and have more satisfied clients. It will also improve your working relationship with your clients and provide a better experience for everyone involved.
Do YOU have any favorite tips & tricks for improving client intake? let us know down in the comments!