Did you know that by preventing 5 percent of your clients from switching agencies, you can increase profits by 25–95 percent? Meanwhile, 82 percent of clients leave a business because of client service issues.
So the key to successful client retention for B2B marketing agencies is providing excellent client services and ensuring effective communication, which you can achieve with a well-designed client onboarding process.
What Is Client Onboarding?
A client onboarding process introduces new clients to your marketing agency and gives you the opportunity to address questions or concerns they might have.
It allows you to establish trust and set the stage for delivering a satisfactory client experience, which can contribute to increasing client retention rates.
The goal of a client onboarding process is for both the agency and the client to gain the knowledge, understanding, and tools they need to make the working relationship a success.
How to Deliver an Effective Client Onboarding Experience
Here are some best practices for establishing a mutually beneficial working relationship with your clients:
Gather Information on Your Client and Their Industry
Create a questionnaire for client onboarding so you can standardize the process and make sure you’re covering all the necessary items every time.
Some key information to gather includes:
What’s working well, and what the client is struggling with.
Target market and unique selling points that speak to the client’s ideal customers.
The typical buyer persona.
Major source of website traffic.
Main competitors and how the client’s offerings are different.
Budget for the year.
Upcoming development roadmap or business campaigns.
B2B markets often have very specific demands and requirements, so avoid making any assumptions. Instead, take the time to do the necessary research and understand your client’s niche so you can have the right information to execute the campaigns.
Set Client Expectations
Your clients won’t be satisfied if your deliverables aren’t what they want, no matter how good the work is. Therefore, it’s important to align with the client’s expectations.
During the client onboarding process, you should cover:
The client’s vision for the business and its goals for growth.
What success looks like for the project or campaign, as well as corresponding metrics.
What your process looks like and what the mid-journey expectations are, e.g., timeline, milestones, intermediate deliverables, etc.
An audit of the client’s current marketing materials and research on the industry.
Your reporting procedure and what the client can expect on a regular basis. For example, if you’re running an SEO campaign, how often will you provide a report, and what will it cover?
Review the Client Communication Plan
Miscommunication is one of the main reasons clients become dissatisfied with a marketing agency. The client onboarding process is the perfect time to review your client communication plan:
Establish channels for communication (e.g., email, Slack) and set expectations for response times.
Appoint a single point of contact for day-to-day project management on both the client and agency side. For example, all client feedback should be consolidated and communicated by this person to avoid conflicting input.
Schedule weekly status calls to keep all stakeholders up-to-date on the project’s progress.
Set expected turnaround times for client feedback after a deliverable is submitted.
Review the project’s plan, timeline, and milestones so the client knows when they need to set aside time to review deliverables or attend meetings.
Most B2B companies have multiple stakeholders. You should understand the organizational structure to ensure the right communications and approval requests are routed to the right people.
Also, keep in mind some B2B companies are highly technical (e.g., software, technology). The stakeholders are often experts in their fields but not always familiar with business and marketing terminology. Here’s how you can ensure successful communication:
Don’t make any assumptions - ask questions even if they seem “basic” and let the client know the intention is to ensure you’re understanding the technology or the product correctly.
If the client uses technical terms, reiterate the idea in “plain English” to make sure you’re understanding it correctly.
Ask your clients to describe the application of their technology in real-life situations and ask questions from their customers’ perspectives.
A well-designed client onboarding process is the key to establishing a fruitful client relationship. It allows you to meet client expectations, improve client satisfaction, and increase client retention. And helps prevent problematic situations in the future!