When acquiring a new client, the first 90 days is the most crucial period in ensuring their success with your managed IT services. Communication, support, and training during this time will set the tone for a successful and rewarding relationship and help drive future opportunities. However, without a solid onboarding foundation you risk confusing and even losing that new client. Here are a few things I’ve learned to help you create a successful onboarding program.
The New Client Journey
I highly recommend creating an effective onboarding plan that every new client can experience – possibly even several different plans if you segment your client base or support multiple verticals. Start by creating a journey map based on the most common client you would acquire. It’s best to create this plan from the client’s point of view; put yourself in their shoes and determine what they would need from an IT solution in order to be successful.
Mapping a client’s journey through your company can be difficult, but it can increase overall satisfaction and lifetime value. Too often we revert to the optimal process laid out for the client, or we continue to see through our eyes and not theirs. Using software tools like UXPressia or laying out the process in MS Excel can help make this much easier and more effective.
Pro tip: Consistent and clear communication is key to any client onboarding process! Once a customer signs up with us, they receive a welcome email that introduces not only our company, but our onboarding team and basic support resources. Our goal in sending this initial email is to encourage a high level of communication between the partner and onboarding team. The next few follow-ups are simply informative emails that reinforce our availability and the core product. Adopting this email practice gives you the opportunity to schedule implementation with new clients and ensure they understand the value in your IT solution.
Uncovering the Gaps
When first starting out, our first client journey map was limited to email communications that we printed out and taped to our conference room walls. This really gave us a striking visual of how many email communications were going out to our clients. We found some that were redundant, some that were poorly worded, and some that were outdated but still being sent out. Uncovering this information was daunting, but it helped us identify the gaps in our client journey.
Here are some steps we recommend taking to improve your client journey:
- Remove redundant emails and touchpoints
- Determine if an email or touchpoint provides value
- Combine emails of similar topics
- Shorten and space out email communications
Closing the Gaps
Once you uncover the gaps in your client onboarding process, the next step is to decide the best way to go about closing them. We all face decision making processes in our day-to-day lives. Whether we’re at work, at home, or out in the world, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our current state. One useful way to do this is through Gap Analysis.
Gap Analysis is a tool where we define three things which ultimately drive decision making.
- Define the Current State
- Define the Desired State
- Map out the action items required to change the Current State to the Desired State
For example, let’s say that you’ve just acquired a new client and you want them to successfully leverage your managed IT platform. In their current state, they are unfamiliar to both your company and your services. Let’s say that your desired state is to get them in a position where you can upsell them on your BDR solution later on. What will it take? Some action items you could take include setting up a quarterly business review (QBR) to ensure they’re satisfied with your current services. Next, you could send them case studies of clients similar to their profile who have found success with your BDR services, or even offer to run a complementary fire drill to test their backup and recovery processes. Taking these steps in your onboarding process will help new clients make that seamless transition into a more desired state.
Gap analysis can be a very powerful tool when done correctly. It will help you set realistic requirements, account for all relevant action items, and map out how to maximize your client’s success.
Measureable Metrics and ROI
It’s always important to be able to measure and report on success. As your onboarding matures you will discover the need to implement more tools that can help maximize client success and further streamline your internal processes. I use the following metrics as a way to not only measure success but to tweak processes along the way.
Ramp Time – Tracking this metric allows you to gauge how intuitive your training is.
Installation Percentage – Tracking this metric allows you to improve communication and training.
Average Billing – Tracking this metric allows you to gauge how much product is being installed over the 90-day onboarding period. Also, it can help you identify when to introduce additional product and service offerings.
Client Service – Tracking Client Service activities helps ensure that your client sees value in the products and services they’re paying for.
Communication and Training – Tracking this is important in understanding the client’s level of engagement.
Churn – Tracking churn is extremely important as you want to understand the reason why you lost a client and fix the gap if possible.
Take client success beyond the first 90 days by sharpening your SLAs!
By Carlos Borges
By Ray Vrabel