Many SaaS companies can relate to the struggle of tracking their client onboarding process and monitoring its performance. The best way to break down the onboarding process of a client into actionable stages and metrics is to prepare a checklist for onboarding your customers. This will help you keep track of the onboarding process as well as ensure that none of the stages are missed out. Having a comprehensive checklist with pre-defined stages will allow you to have a structured and smooth onboarding process.
I’ve found that breaking up the onboarding process into various stages and maintaining checks for each stage, is an effective way of ensuring a structured onboarding process. It helps track the progress of different accounts over the onboarding life-cycle. Additionally, it also helps in projecting the expected go-live dates for all accounts being handled by the onboarding team.
What is an onboarding checklist?
An onboarding process checklist facilitates the breakdown of the client onboarding process into measurable stages and milestones. It also maps out your customer’s initial journey from the purchase of your product to going live. Using an onboarding checklist allows you to increase accountability and come up with a structured pathway to get new clients live with your offering.
How would you design a new customer onboarding checklist?
While creating a new client onboarding process checklist, you must keep the onboarding life-cycle of your customer in mind. The first step would be to break down your onboarding and data collection life-cycle into its most prominent stages. Secondly, sub-divide the most important stages based on measurable metrics. A customer onboarding checklist can be heavily customized based on your product workflow. Ensure that you’re incorporating your onboarding team’s deliverables as well as customer’s milestones as a part of your checklist.
Are checklists for internal or external use?
A customer onboarding checklist can be exclusively for internal use — or for both internal and external use. In my personal experience, sharing an onboarding checklist with your clients is always a good move as it gives them an idea as to what they can expect during the onboarding stages. If all this seems vague, read on to see a new client onboarding process template which you can adopt and customize to your business workflow.
Client Onboarding Checklist Template:
- Welcome Note - Initially, you should send your clients a welcome message about your company, what it does, and welcome your client to your company’s platform. This shouldn’t be too long and should ideally take your client just 2-3 minutes to go over it. This can be done right before or right after your first kick-off call with your client.
- Client Information Collection - When you onboard a new client, you would need some basic details about their company. This stage encompasses just that. You can send out a data collection form or send over a document that your client can fill in with the details that you initially require. Ideally, you can do this right after the kick-off call.
- Contracts - Before you jump to the main parts of the onboarding life-cycle, make sure that you get all the paperwork in order. Any contracts or NDAs that need to be signed by your client should be dealt with.
- Onboarding Lifecycle Management - Now that the initial formalities are out of the way, you can jump to setting up an onboarding workflow. If you’re using a project management tool or a client onboarding software that helps you manage onboarding, then you should complete the initial setup on that platform to track your client’s onboarding. Moreover, you should document and record all the previous stages as well.
- Data Sharing and Migration - Based on your product workflow, your client may have existing data that you may need to migrate to your platform. You may also require some other data from them in order to get them up and running. At this stage, you should send the client a Google Drive or Dropbox link so that your client can seamlessly upload the files that you requested into that folder. You can then start migrating that data into the appropriate places in your product architecture.
- Training - Once all the previous stages are done, you can start training your client on how to use your product. In my personal experience, this is the most important stage of the onboarding process and involves a high degree of interaction between the onboarding team and the client. We recommend scheduling a meeting at a mutually convenient time and walk the client through the process of using your software.
- Usage Access - Until after the training, your client’s access to your product and its functionalities is typically limited. Once the training is done, you should proceed with giving your client full access to your product and its functionalities so that they can effectively start using your product. Let them utilize the product independently so that they can get accustomed to the product’s features and workflow.
- Progress Tracking - While your client starts using your product, track their product usage and initial adoption. This will help you assess which aspects for your product are vital for your client’s operations and which ones can serve as value additions. Progress tracking will also help you identify the features of your product that your client is not adopting and you can then emphasize those features and retrain your clients on using them.
- Initial Hand-holding - Hand holding should go hand in hand with progress tracking after the training. At this stage, the onboarding team should regularly touch base with the clients and ensure that they are able to smoothly adopt the product into their business workflow. During the hand holding phase, having a high-touch approach with your clients is vital to ensure that there are no lingering doubts about your product’s workflow.
- Go-Live - After a reasonable period of hand holding, your onboarding is successfully completed. Before you officially declare them as live, one of the client onboarding best practices is to get on a call with your client and confirm that they’re comfortable with using your product. Once that is done, you’re all set to mark them live!
An onboarding process checklist can help you ensure that the onboarding steps are followed sequentially and that nothing is missed. The checklist can be heavily customized to your product’s workflow and your onboarding process, however, it will have some common stages that exist in every onboarding process. A client onboarding process checklist can help you provide a better onboarding experience to your clients which will make it easier for you to grow and retain them.