Account Manager, 5+ Years of Client Success and Project Management
September 7th, 2019
Customer onboarding is crucial for any client experience, as it can mean the difference between client retention and client churn.
Studies have shown that the first 90-days is the “make or break” time for that relationship.
Stewart Bell, writing for Iris, says the first 90 days is the time of first impressions:
“It’s the point at which that first seed of doubt, or the first shoot of advocacy, starts. Every moment from that first contact, one of two paths starts being walked down. The further along the path a client gets, the harder it becomes to reverse course.
One path leads to buyers' remorse.
The other leads to endorsement and, critically, alignment with the way you work."
Effective onboarding allows you the opportunity to build a solid relationship, addressing issues, impediments, and concerns to ensure the client has a clear understanding of how the relationship will work. This way, each side holds the other accountable for the success of the relationship.
But what happens when there is a lack of consistency within the onboarding process?
Poorly structured onboarding can cost your business trust, growth, and retention, and affect the entire client relationship.
The factors that contribute to these costs are inefficient communication, lack of transparency, and scope decrease — due to budget cuts and/or project delays — and plenty of other factors. All of which can, in turn, result in loss of business.
What do you need to do next to ensure this relationship starts off on the right foot?
SmartSheet. Inc. created an insightful article on the true cost of ineffective onboarding. Some key elements are highlighted below.
Issues that happen in the onboarding process are often not the company's fault.
The infographic showcases the three top reported client-driven issues: last-minute request and changes, scope creep, and scheduling issues.
Changes in the plans for a project, especially at the last-minute, can affect the project on a whole as well as the relationship.
Imagine an account executive managing the project deliverables and getting the final pieces together, only to have last-minute changes sent to them by the client.
This means an evening spent burning the midnight oil to accommodate the changes.
It also means that the additional compensation for the time spent outside of work hours must be absorbed by the company.
"Scope creep" can be another big stumbling block. Budget and scope are outlined in the sales process and agreed upon by both parties in the service agreement.
Scope creep is something that happens when a client makes changes outside of the initial agreed-upon program, causing the company to go over budget on time spent on the project. In fact, "90% of additional costs incurred during the onboarding efforts [are] client-driven, yet they are absorbed by the company."
Also, scheduling issues can very detrimental as well. Not being able to meet at timely intervals with clients due to scheduling issues also results in inefficient and costly workflows
These factors trickle down from unclear expectations set in the onboarding process.
The company, too, can be responsible for a share of issues. As reported in the infographic, lack of staff, ineffective coordination between internal teams, lack of tracking and reporting, and an inefficient onboarding process can be detrimental to a business relationship and can result in loss of business altogether.
For example, a quarter of service professionals report that poor communication has caused major delays for their business.
A systemized and effective onboarding process will achieve less churn, reduction in delays, more efficiency, happier clients, a unified partnership between the client and the company, and, in turn, more business.