You’ve connected with your DREAM client, and she decides to work with you. YAY! What an exciting feeling when someone knows, likes, and trusts you to hire you to do what you do best.
The next steps are critical. The onboarding process (the steps you take to formally start working with someone) is important to setting up a healthy, empowered, and productive professional relationship. It’s the steps, systems, and processes you share with your client to let them know they’re in good hands.
As the expert, you can lead your client through your process by being clear about what's needed and what's next to create an incredible client experience.
So this week, we’ll be taking a look at how we’re communicating expectations to make sure they are serving our clients AND protecting the integrity of our work and boundaries, so it’s a win-win for everyone involved.
1. Clarify each person’s role and responsibility.
The agreement that you have with your client is a working RELATIONSHIP, and the best, mutually beneficial relationships are ones where both people know and understand what is expected and how they can support each other.
That’s why it’s important to clarify your responsibilities as the service provider AND your client’s responsibilities in working with you.
Here are some questions to consider:
1. What conditions allow you to do your BEST work?
2. What does your client need to know to set BOTH of you up for success?
The answers to these questions will help you define a process for payment, communication, feedback, timelines, and to-dos.
2. Set Expectations In Your Contract
Contracts and agreements are a legal way to communicate each person’s responsibility in a working relationship.
Contracts can outline terms for payment and refunds, liability protection, policies and procedures, timelines, and deliverables.
I know that legal things can be intimidating or confusing, but having a clear contract will get the working relationship off on the right foot to prevent legal action down the road.
3. Create a Welcome Packet + Give Client Pre-Work
After the contract is reviewed and signed, and the deposit is paid, I send over a welcome packet to my client.
The purpose of my welcome packet is to give my client resources that will help her get STARTED on her business goals and make the most out of our coaching partnership.
You can definitely get creative here, but my welcome packet is a branded PDF that includes:
1. A welcome letter describing my role and what to expect (sensing a theme here?)
2. Copy of our agreement with helpful links to my scheduler, and Basecamp for communication and feedback.
3. Copy of a Business Review to help set the right goals we’ll work on achieving together
Yes, I can my clients homework BEFORE our first session so they can reflect on what’s working and not working. That way, we can dive right in to dreaming, planning, and execution portion during our work together.
What do you need from your client BEFORE you start working together?
4. Ask your client about their needs in an initial session.
During our first coaching session, I set aside extra time to go over “housekeeping” items and reiterate things like how we will communicate through Asana, filling out a pre-session questionnaire, and my typical office hours. I also ask my client how they feel best supported so I can tailor my coaching to their needs.
Even though my client has seen things written down, I like to have an open dialogue on what the dynamic of our relationship will be like. Because of the personal relationship of my work and the fact that every client is different, this allows me to get to know my client’s deeper motivations, personality, and preferences to help make the experience unique to them.
What are some ways you like to tailor your services to meet the needs of your clients?
5. Continue to communicate throughout your working relationship.
You can continue to communicate and evolve as your working relationship progresses.
If your client crossed a boundary, a friendly reminder may do the trick to get you back on track. For example, one time I received a message from a client really late at night. The following day, I reminded her of my regular office hours and my typical response time and she understood how to proceed.
You can also ask for feedback during your work together. For example, I like to check-in at the halfway mark to see what’s working, not working, and what can be better.
At the end of the day, we’re here to lead AND serve our clients. By being clear on our roles and responsibilities and communicating them frequently and openly, we create an experience that builds rapport and trust with our clients, and has the power to turn them into forever fans.
Let me know in the comments below, what's YOUR onboarding process like? How do you like communicate roles and responsibilities with your clients?