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How to create an effective client onboarding checklist

client onboarding checklist
Last Updated January 31, 2023
 - by Sara Bussandri

You’re committed to creating an awesome onboarding experience to welcome your new clients into your business. But what exactly do you need? What should your process look like? And how do you put together an effective client onboarding checklist or questionnaire that your staff can use consistently across your business? 

client onboarding checklist

In our post, Client onboarding – the importance of creating a process for your service-based business, we explained what a client onboarding process is, who needs one, and how it can help your business. Now it’s time to put one together. 

Using an existing client onboarding checklist template for your industry can be a helpful starting point. But ultimately, you’ll want to create your own tailored questionnaire - one that works for your business and your clients. 

So let’s see how you might go about putting one together for your company. 

What to include in your customer onboarding checklist

Your specific client onboarding process will be shaped by your industry and your business. But here are some of the key activities you might want to include:

  • Issuing your proposal.
  • Issuing your contract or Ts&Cs.
  • Collecting payment from the client.  
  • Sending the client onboarding questionnaire
  • Providing the client with a welcome pack (if applicable). 
  • Kicking off the project. 
  • Checking in with the client.

Depending on the size and structure of your organisation, some of these steps may not be required. Or you may need to add other activities that are pivotal to what you deliver as a business. The key is to create a checklist that is suitable for your company. 

Once you feel confident about the high-level steps you want your onboarding process to include, you can start to break them down into individual tasks to create your own internal client onboarding template. 

You can then assign an owner to each task by appointing the role or staff member in your business who is responsible to carry out that activity, attach deadlines, and add specific instructions around how you want the activity to be implemented. 

How much detail should you include in your client onboarding checklist? 

There’s no hard and fast rule here, but make sure you don’t blindly copy and paste examples you may find on the internet. While using an existing template means you don’t have to start from scratch, they might not be a good fit for your business, and following one to the letter may only over complicate your process unnecessarily.  

Each task that makes it to your final onboarding checklist should deliver a result to your business and your clients. Anything that doesn’t save you time, help you provide a better customer experience, or make things easier for your or your new clients doesn’t deserve a place on your process. So make sure you only include as many (or as little) details as you need to make the template work for you. 

New client onboarding checklist template

Issuing your proposal

When you break down the process of issuing your proposal, your checklist may look something like this: 

  • Produce a proposal based on the information provided by the customer during the sales call. 
  • Obtain internal sign off of proposal (optional). 
  • Issue proposal to the client. 
  • Collect client’s feedback on the proposal and amend accordingly (if required). 
  • Chase client’s sign off of proposal (if required). 
  • File the signed client proposal and share with the relevant parties within the organisation. 

At this stage, you’ll want to clarify where your client is right now and what they want to achieve by working with you. It’s only by fully understanding their aims and objectives that you can produce a proposal that’s fit-for-purpose and estimate the scope of the work required. 

Being clear on your deliverables from the start will also help you avoid experiencing unpleasant situations or scope creep during later phases of the project.  

onboarding checklist

Issuing your contract or T&Cs 

When you break down this step in your process, your new client onboarding checklist template may look something like this: 

  • Draft the contract or Ts&Cs (based on the information included in the signed off proposal).
  • Obtain internal sign off (optional).
  • Send the contract or T&Cs to the client.
  • Collect client’s feedback and amend documentation accordingly (if required). 
  • Chase client’s sign off of contract or T&Cs (if required). 
  • File the signed contract or T&Cs. 

Collecting payment

When it comes to collecting payment from your client, you may have a few keys steps: 

  • Issue the invoice using your company invoicing software.  
  • Chase the client for payment (if required). 
  • Verify and confirm client payment (through your company invoicing software). 

Sending the client onboarding questionnaire or customer onboarding form

If you need information from your client before you can get started with the work, a client intake questionnaire may be a great tool to obtain it. If you’d like more information and examples on this, head over to our post, How to create a client intake form for your service-based business. You might also like our list of questions to ask during client onboarding.

At this point in the process, you may also decide to send your client a welcome email or pack, if  applicable to your business. It could be a physical pack that you send via snail mail or deliver in person at your first meeting, or a welcome email containing links to training material or any documentation that will help you start things on the right foot and make your client relationship smoother and easier in the long run. 

Your welcome pack or email may contain basic information about your business and your ways of working, for example. But it’s also a great chance to get your new clients excited about working with you. So if you send one, make it count!

Kicking off the project 

When it comes to getting started with the work, you may do that through a kick-off call or a face-to-face kick-off meeting. Or, if possible and relevant, you might choose to have both. 

The way you structure your kick-off will depend on your business and the type of project you’re about to embark on, but you should use this opportunity to:

  • Introduce your client to any team members that will be working on the project. 
  • Revisit the deliverables (if applicable), the process you’ll be following, the team responsibilities, and all relevant deadlines. 
  • Set boundaries and clear expectations with your client - what are the do’s and don'ts? What information will you require from your client to carry out the work at each stage of the project? By when will you need it? Etc. 
  • Specify when and how you will review progress with your client.
  • Allow the client to ask any questions they might have. 
  • Set clear next steps. 
onboarding checklist template

Checking in with the client 

While this may not be applicable for your business, if at all relevant, you should consider scheduling a check-up call or meeting with your client a few days or weeks after your project kick-off. While you could argue that now that the work is underway the client has been officially ‘onboarded’, it’s still early days into your working relationship. 

Having a check-point allows you to gather feedback from the client and make any necessary tweaks to your project plan before you get too far into producing your deliverables. Plus, this gives you the chance to check that your client is still happy - the last thing you want is for things to go rogue just after you’ve kicked the project off! 

And if you’re still waiting on information from your onboarding form, you can fill in the gaps during this call or meeting. 

Customer onboarding questions and additional information

Last but not least, your checklist should cover any exceptional scenarios. For example:

  • How will you handle a delay in signing the proposal or the contract? When and how will you chase the client? 
  • What happens in case the client’s requirements have changed since the sales call, and your proposal and contract need to be amended? Who will make those changes and by when? 
  • How will you handle a delay in the client’s settling the invoice for the deposit or the full amount they owe you? How will you chase the client and how? 
  • What happens if the information your client sends you is incorrect, incomplete, late, or in the wrong format? 
  • Or how will you accommodate changes or additional requests that come in after your client has signed the contract and made a payment? 

By going through each step of your onboarding process in detail, you’ll be able to identify potential pitfalls and exceptions. Look at all outcomes for each stage - including what may cause a delay to a task - and include contingency and appropriate measures. Planning for and documenting these steps allows you to provide a more consistent customer experience to all your new clients.

Support your client onboarding checklist with Content Snare

If you want to share information and documentation safely and efficiently with your clients both during the onboarding process and for the duration of the project, Content Snare can help you make sure you get content on time, in the right format, and without having to rely on back-and-forth emails. 

If you’re an agency or a service provider who needs key information from your clients before you get started with your work, Content Snare allows you to save any content your clients share with you in a central place that anyone in your business can access. So if you're interested and want to check it out, we offer a FREE 14-day trial

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Sara Bussandri

Sara Bussandri is a Digital Content Writer who helps small business owners and successful podcasters with blogging and re-purposing audio/video content into SEO-friendly blog posts. At home, she’s a mum of three boys who works around school runs, laundry loads, and football matches.