Welcome to the first in a series of articles to help you elevate your client experience and improve your business operations. This series will support you to increase your referrals and generate more income.
First of all, a little bit about me. My name is Kate, I am the managing director of Olivier Consultancy. We’re an online business management company and client experience is totally “my jam”!
I am here to help virtual assistants. Maybe you’re new to the business? Or maybe you’ve been doing it a little while but you’ve never really looked at your processes and your procedures? Or maybe it’s just not your background. You’ve never done that before and you wouldn’t know where to start in the first place BUT there’s something telling you that you know you should be doing something, because there’s a better way of doing it.
So today we’re going to look at onboarding. A lot of new virtual assistants aren’t sure what onboarding means. The people that have been doing it a little while might have never focused on their onboarding procedure. So first things first…
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What is Onboarding
So onboarding is literally the process of moving a new client through your sales process; from being a new lead and perhaps taking part in an initial Discovery Call, through to actually working with you. All of the things that happen in that period of time, where you’re getting everything signed and sorted, is your Onboarding Process.
As it’s the very beginning of working with you, it needs to be something that’s thought out. …Something that has some strategy behind it.
…Something that’s designed with your company branding.
…Something that can really shine for you from the start of your working relationship and, most importantly,
…Something that gives a new client confidence in you.
Why is an Onboarding Process Important?
For Virtual Assistants, it is really important to manage your own clients well, because you’re the shopfront of your business. The processes you use are the example for how you will manage your clients’ businesses. If you’re not able to give a good service to your own client, how are you going to help them with theirs? This is why it’s so important to have really slick, efficient processes and to focus your client experience.
The onboarding process is unique for every business, and you might have forms or questionnaires that you particularly need for your type of business, but there are some fundamentals to cover. Let’s start at the very beginning…
Lead Entry Point
How are clients finding you? Start by noting down your client entry points and then work out if you can make them easier for the client.
- Are they DM-ing you through Instagram?
- Are they finding you through your website
- Through referrals?
Client experience and client journey should always make the client feel incredible and looked after and the most VIP person in the world BUT they also need to be functional for your business. It’s a constant juggle between the two. It’s good practice to always keep in the forefront of your mind the question “how easy am I making this for the client? Even when it’s functional for your business there will be ways of making it easy for the client too.
For example,you need to get a Discovery Call booked. Are you using things like Calendly and Acuity? Or are you making them manually go back and forth, playing email ping pong to find some availability that works for you both?
So at every stage, think about how you can make that better for the client and still serve your business needs.
So moving on from the Discovery Call, you’re (hopefully) going to have The Proposal. At this stage we’re still not actually “Onboarding” because the proposal is still your sales pitch. It is you saying to the client “this is what I can do for you”. It will detail things like how much it’s going to cost, what you will provide and asking the contact if they’d like to continue.
We’re going to cover proposals in more detail in another article, but in brief, I would always recommend putting together an actual proposal template. A document with elements that can be personalised for each new client. This is your last chance to really sell yourself. It would be easier in many cases to simply put a few lines in an email but don’t forget this is about making the client feel important as well as being functional for your business. Put yourself in the client’s shoes; what’s more impressive? A couple of sentences in an easily, or a professionally presented document, personalised with their details?
The Sales Follow Up
Following the proposal, this is where you can get clever with logic that determines smaller processes running off your main process.
You should have a minimum of two branches here; did they accept or decline?
IF they decline your proposal, what happens next?
- Do you get back to them in a month?
- Do you send them a special offer later down the line?
- Do you add them to your newsletter list?
IF they accept your proposal, then you’re moving on to Onboarding!
Three Steps to Onboarding a Client
So they’ve accepted your proposal. Great! What next?!
1. Get a contract to them – fast!
Contracts are another thing that we’re going to cover in a future article but it goes without saying, you should always have a contract.
There’s a common misconception with some clients, and sometimes with Virtual Assistants who are new in business, that you wait for the client to send a contract to you. This is not the case and it’s the wrong way around. As the service provider you always need to be serving them with the contract detailing your payment terms and specifics. Contracts are all about covering yourself and protecting yourself. So don’t be scared to send the contract. It’s a very normal thing to happen in business and most clients will be used to signing contracts with their service providers
NO CONTRACT? No Problem!
If you don’t have a contract, you can obtain templates from our partners over at Koffee Klatch. Simply use code VAPRO to get 10% off your order!
Your client is probably used to negotiations and they might come back and request amendments to the contract, or ask for clarification on a clause or two. This is ok, and it’s normal, but remember it’s up to you whether you agree to the changes that they’re asking for.
2. Send the invoice
Always send the contract first. Then either along with it, or following that very quickly, the invoice. That’s because in the payment terms of the contract, they’re agreeing to pay something either now or in the future so never send the invoice first. They need to see what they’re agreeing to in the contract and then go on to pay. Don’t delay sending the invoice, though. You’re the service provider, remember? It’s good practice to put steps in place to ensure you’ll be paid in a timely manner.
3. Send a Welcome Pack.
Again, this is something that we’ll cover in more detail in a future article, but if you do send a welcome pack, that would be the time to send it out, as well as a kickoff call scheduler or invite to book a call with you to discuss the plan of what’s going to happen next for them.
Your Onboarding Process Overview
So that’s your onboarding procedure; it’s as simple as that!
As I said at the beginning, everybody’s onboarding process will look slightly different. You might have questionnaires at certain points. You might have questions to ask before a call. But the fundamentals of moving through from the first touch point with a new least to being ready to start work with a new client remain the same:
- Discovery Call
- Sales Follow Up
- Welcome Pack
- Kickoff Call
We’ll dive deeper into each of these areas in this series of articles, so watch this space!
Do check back because there’s lots of training on business operations and how this can increase your revenue, free up your own time and also how to manage your clients effectively.
is an Online Business Manager at Olivier Consultancy.
Kate is on a mission to up-skill women in business- from processes to technology- she wants you to achieve a client journey to be proud of and seamless business operations built to scale. As an ex-practice manager of a wealth management company, Kate has spent years creating client management processes that work and can now share them with you!
Find Kate online: @olivierconsultancy