Finding the right answers about your client’s onboarding needs means you need to first ask the right questions. When we say the ‘right’ questions, what do we mean? Asking questions is easy, but asking the correct questions that will generate the information you need can be quite challenging. This is especially true when your clients run entire companies of their own with intricate workflows and tons of data.
In this type of scenario, if you can perfect the art of articulating the right questions — then you’ll set yourself up for success right from the very first meeting. In this article, we will identify the most collaborative questions to ask your clients, to better understand their expectations and business workflow in an intuitive, transparent setting.
This is why we’ve published a client onboarding questionnaire template for our beloved customer success community. With these 6 questions alone, you can get all the information you need from your new clients, eliminating any grey areas of what to ask them and how.
6 Questions To Ask When Onboarding a New Client
Question 1: What does a typical work day look like for you?
The objective of this question is not just to break the ice but also to learn about your client's workflow. Since this is an open-ended question, some clients may tell you about their personal life, letting you build a rapport. Others may talk about their approach to work, allowing you not only to build rapport but also give you insight into their operational style.
Personally, I always ask this question to my clients right at the introductory call. It is not only a natural way to start a conversation, but also a great way to empathize with their pain points. As they tell me about how they spend their day, I take notes about where they spend most of their time and what business-related weaknesses their current operational model may have. Moreover, it helps me understand how to accommodate their schedule in the future.
Question 2: What about our services appealed to you as a relevant business solution?
This is a great question to subtly transition from rapport-building to conversing about business. This stage of the conversation helps you identify the aspects of your offering that most attracted your client. It also helps you relate to your client's priorities and customize their onboarding process accordingly.
This is another question that I prefer to ask right during the first meeting with the client. I use my client's responses to identify quickly achievable wins and subsequently work on delivering those first. I also use the insights shared by the clients to identify potential aspects of our offering which the clients may have overlooked but can still be important to them.
Question 3: From your perspective, what is currently the weakest aspect of your business workflow?
This is a loaded question that should be posited only to your client's company's C-level and most senior stakeholders. You may want to refrain from asking this question to an assigned POC. This question is useful in getting a first-hand account of the potential weakness that plague your client's current workflow.
I usually wait till the second or the third meeting before asking this question. I prefer to give my clients a taste of our offering before I delve this deep into their business workflow. During my tenure, I've gained valuable insights from the responses to this question and it has helped me identify particular aspects of their workflow where I can make the most impact.
The responses to this question usually reveal areas of potential long-term collaboration and impact.
Question 4: Have you identified an aspect of your business that you would like to improve?
This sounds like an easy question that any stakeholder can answer. However, you can ask this question to any stakeholder that you end up meeting as everyone might have a different take on this.
Within each company, the various levels of hierarchy face different challenges each day and the more of them you can identify, the better. Moreover, different stakeholders have different expectations and the responses to this question can actually help you align the entire company's expectations into a measurable outcome through your offering.
Personally, I tend to pose this question to every stakeholder of my client's company that I run into, right from the grassroots workers to the senior management. It helps me get an insight into the different problems that the varying levels of hierarchy face and also chart a course as to how I can make an impact across all levels.
The responses to this question can also help in identifying potential areas of future collaboration as well as upsell and cross-sell opportunities for the customer success team. It can also help you identify if there are any additional services that you can offer your clients.
Question 5: As an organization who handles numerous clients in this business domain, is there any business problem that you'd like our insights on?
I save this question for the end of the Onboarding process. This question is more of a trust-building exercise and also a way to maintain a healthy level of interaction.
The onboarding process should usually be a high-touch approach with a good degree of client engagement. However, if you have done the onboarding process right, your clients will start using your offering independently after the completion of the onboarding process. While the onboarding process may be completed, it is important to maintain a healthy level of interaction in order to keep the client engaged and receptive towards new additions to your offering in the future.
Responses to this query can help you understand the challenges that your client is currently facing and potentially figure out avenues for further product and solution development. Moreover, you can tap into your own expertise to assist your clients based on the responses to this question, which will help you gain the trust and respect of your clients.
Question 6: What is the most common complaint that you receive from various stakeholders within your company?
Most CEOs and senior stakeholders will tell you about business problems from their perspectives. This question forces them to think about business problems reported across their organization which might not be a priority for them but might be a priority for you. Moreover, you may end up discovering common problems that your business offering can easily solve or certain complex problems which can become an area of improvement for your offering.
In my experience, I have successfully used the responses to this question to uncover problems across different organizational hierarchical levels with varying priorities. Responses to this question have also helped me identify areas for future collaboration with clients as well as areas for future development of our own offering.
You can use the aforementioned questions (ideally in the format of an onboarding questionnaire) to ensure that your clients have a smooth onboarding process and that their expectations are aligned. Moreover, you can use automated tools and combined dashboards to keep your clients updated about the current progress from your end while you work on the insights gained by asking these questions.
What's next? Download the New Client Onboarding Questionnaire Template!