When agencies begin working with new clients, first impressions mean everything. Onboarding is one of the initial interactions between a company and its newly won client. It's no surprise, then, that the company's approach affects the client-agency relationship from the very beginning and can have lasting effects moving forward.
Here are five simple suggestions to ease the onboarding process.
1. Keep communications open.
Solving pain points early on is the quickest way to ease the stress of a new client (or a new employee, for that matter). Agencies first must listen well to clients to figure out the main goal. Perhaps this goes without saying, but the client also must listen well to the agency.
Open communications across both parties can foster a positive consultant/client structure. The first week working together creates the most impressions and lays the foundation for productive (or not) relationships between the groups.
2. Make certain the data is accurate.
To help clients optimize their business processes, it's important to analyze forward-facing information as well as the data they collect and bring to work sessions. Sometimes the data on a client’s website differs from the client's story.
For example, if a client is losing money and needs to figure out why, it's smart to assess business information along with marketing campaigns. Either can help drive more positive traffic toward the client. But inaccurate numbers can lead to faulty information on websites and across collateral materials. Consultants must look behind the messaging to dig into the figures, too.
3. Write the real story -- with the real numbers.
No doubt the client has researched the agency before seeking an outside professional's opinion. In fact, the client might know more about the agency than the agency has anticipated. This actually is a positive sign that the client appreciates the consultant company's culture and philosophy.
Once data is compiled, vetted and analyzed, the agency can write a real story that aligns with the client's vision. Numbers can say much about a company, but a story can flesh out even more details.
4. Devise a strategy to solve pain points.
Entrepreneurs are famous for identifying and solving pain points before they become chronic issues. Larger companies would be wise to develop this attribute. Smaller agencies tend to have a lower client-to-manager ratio, with greater individual knowledge of clients and more personal connections. This naturally provides ample opportunities to address emerging concerns before conflicts arise.
Solving pain points the client hadn't truly felt yet elevates the consultant's value and increases the likelihood the client will remain with the agency across a longer time span.
5. Bring it all together.
The previous four techniques uncovered options. Now, it's time to discuss how each can best be optimized to achieve the client's objectives. Consultants can break down what they've learned about the client to create innovative ways of dealing with pain points when they're mere discomforts. This way, the agency develops a process for anticipating issues that may make the client uncomfortable -- and then further proves its worth by handling those aspects before the client has time to feel the sting.