A Step by Step Guide to Onboarding New Clients

You already know that a lot of time, money, and energy goes into signing a new client. So the last thing you want to do is sign a new client and then lose them due to an inefficient onboarding process. Unfortunately, this exact scenario plays out every day. Businesses struggle to find new clients but give very little thought to onboarding new clients.

When a brand connects with their customer, that in some ways is the easy part, the hard part is keeping the customer at the center after the success/profits comes flooding in. Success can breed complacency, success can breed arrogance.Anna Farmery

Onboarding new clients is the process of welcoming them into your company. When you are onboarding new clients it sets the tone for your working relationship with that client. If there is no plan in place the process will lack direction and this can result in confusion and miscommunication down the road. Onboarding new clients in a repeatable, efficient manner are important for the long-term growth of your company.

If your process for onboarding new clients could use a little help then this article is written just for you. This step by step guide will lay out a clear path that any business can follow for effectively onboarding new clients.

It is always exciting to welcome a new client into your business. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that person is sold on your product or service just because they signed up. Research has shown that nearly one in four consumers will open an app once and then never use it again. The truth is that once a new client joins your business your work has only just begun.

Because most customer churn is the result of an ineffective onboarding process, learning how to master this should be a high priority for every company. Listed below are four essential steps for onboarding new clients.

Step #1: Welcome the Client To Your Business

You have probably heard of buyer’s remorse before but have you ever thought about how this applies to your own business? Clients will frequently experience regret immediately after making an expensive purchase out of fear that they made a mistake. When you are onboarding new clients, you need to immediately prove to them that they made the right decision.

This doesn’t have to be anything over the top but it should involve some sort of personal gesture. A canned, generic message will not impress anyone. A personalized email from a team member welcoming them and offering to answer their questions can be a great start. A phone call is a great way to stand out as well. In addition, you might also want to send them any other sort of introductory materials. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Personalized email from company leadership
  • Successful case studies from your clients
  • Introductions to anyone relevant to them from the team (emails, business cards)
  • Previous client references & testimonials

Your client wants to feel like you care about their business and want to help them. By welcoming the client into your business in a thoughtful way, you set up the expectation for great customer service right from the start.

Step #2: Understand the Client’s Expectations

The goal of onboarding new clients is to guide them to experience their first “win” with your product or service. In order to accomplish this, you must find out what success means to that client. Your company most likely has its own definition of success but that doesn’t mean your client will agree with it.

A customer feedback survey is a great way to find out this information. Simply ask the customer, “What would success with our company look like to you?” Their answer will let you know exactly what you need to deliver on to retain that client.

There are, of course, more detailed questions you can ask depending on the industry you’re operating in. To be more specific, identify the exact client “goal” and the metrics used. For example, if you’re a marketing agency, the goal could be revenue, and the metrics would be traffic, conversions, and sales. This way, both you and your client will know exactly what you’re working towards.

Step #3: Outline the Scope of the Work and Set Milestones

Now that you have welcomed your client and you clearly understand what they expect you can outline the scope of the work and set milestones in place. By clearly outlining the scope of the work you will continue to build on client expectations and set clear boundaries in place.

Depending on your industry, this can either be deliverables or results. For example, as a design agency, your deliverables could be:

  • New company logo
  • 2 banners for partners/advertising purposes
  • Company powerpoint theme
  • Website re-design

Once you have outlined the scope of the work you can set realistic milestones for each task. Make sure that you understand the client’s available resources, that the team you have chosen has the right skill sets to work with that client, and that the timeline is manageable.

Make sure you are creating this plan with the client and getting their feedback along the way. Both the client and the team you have in place should be in agreement about the plan before moving forward.

Step #4: Finishing Onboarding New Clients & Maintaining Relationship

Once the process of onboarding new clients is over, you should still have a way to maintain constant contact with that client. It is also a good idea to check in with that client after about a month to see how everything is going and answer any questions they might have.

This will help you find out if they are happy with the work that has been completed thus far. It will also strengthen your relationship with that client because it will show them that you value their business. If you left a good impression, there’s a good chance for the client to refer your company to anyone in need. Plus, you can always use them as a case study or a testimonial.


Signing new clients is important for any business but customer retention should be even more of a priority. This is because researchers like the Gartner Group have found that 80 percent of a company’s future profits will come from 20 percent of the clients it already has. Successfully onboarding clients is a crucial part of any company’s ability to grow and scale down the road.

Onboarding clients is a process that can always be improved. As your business continues to grow and change, you will need to continue to strengthen the onboarding process as well. An effective process of onboarding clients can be the difference between a business that struggles and a business that thrives.

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About the author - Amit Kothari

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