3 Steps You Absolutely Need In Your Onboarding Process, No Matter Your Industry or Offer

April 15, 2022

Sarah Williams


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It’s not often where we say you NEED to do something in business, but when it comes to your onboarding process, there are a few key elements that we’ve discovered are critical for setting both you and your clients/customers up for a successful relationship. 

No matter if you have digital products or courses, group programs or done-for-you services, at the end of the day, the “transaction” happening between you and your clients or customers *is* a relationship. 

And in any relationship, having boundaries, building trust and keeping open channels of communication is the key to success. Below, we’re walking you through 3 steps you absolutely need in your onboarding process, and we’ll provide examples for different offers to really drive it home (I see you, thinking some of these may not apply 👀)

Onboarding Step 1: Protecting Yourself With a Legal Agreement

In an ideal world, if you’re a service-based business, we would *always* recommend sending your Proposal, Contract and Invoice all in one go so that your new clients have to agree to the service and terms, and submit payment at the same time (even if it’s just a deposit). Tools like Dubsado and HoneyBook are excellent systems to do this. 

In the situation of products or digital programs, having Terms & Conditions linked at checkout is imperative. 

At the end of the day, the legal agreement right up front covers your ass. In fact it protects both you and your client/customer, sets very clear expectations and provides a reference point in case something isn’t completed or delivered by either party. 

Onboarding Step 2: Reinforcing Expectations With Welcome Information

As soon as your new client or customer is on board and they’ve just parted with their hard-earned money because they trust you to deliver on your promise, it’s important to send IMMEDIATE validation with next steps. 

This provides a great opportunity to reinforce expectations, including: 

  1. Deliverables or project timeline
  2. Key milestones 
  3. Office hours and how to communicate
  4. What to do if there’s a problem
  5. What’s the next step in the process and who’s responsibility is it (you or them)

In the e-commerce world, this could look like something as simple as a confirmation email that includes a welcome message, an acknowledgement that you’re working on their order, and a contact email in case they have any questions. 

The legal agreement is a good way to set the expectations, but this step is a great opportunity to put it all in *super* plain, accessible and clear language so there are no excuses for boundaries being crossed or excessive questions. 

Onboarding Step 3: Requesting Immediate Input / Commitment

Once someone commits (legally) and pays, whether by agreeing to terms at checkout or signing a contract and submitting a deposit or their first instalment, you want to validate that investment immediately.

If you’ve set your onboarding process up right and have it fully automated, they may do this in the middle of the night, early in the morning, or while you’re off at the spa during the day. So how do you validate their purchase if you’re not available?

By sending them an automated email confirming their purchase and going over next steps so it’s very clear. If it’s a digital product, they may get instant access to the platform, etc.

But you can also use this step to gather information and make them feel like they’ve gotten value right away by sending them homework, requesting additional information, scheduling their first call, etc. Get them to take ACTION right after the investment. It may seem backwards, because they’re doing the work, but it’s a great way to ensure them that it’s a high value experience and that you care about making this a great experience for them.

And when it comes to onboarding, these three steps are just scratching the surface. We also always recommend a kick-off call for service-based entrepreneurs, personalized gifts or notes for both service- and product-based businesses, and more. But adding MORE to your onboarding process doesn’t mean you’re adding MORE to your to-do list. 95% if not 100% can be completely automated, and as long as it’s designed with intention and strategy, your onboarding process can set your clients up before you’ve even done anything for them to buy again.

Rebel Office Client Experience Design

We’ve got you. Let’s have a chat about your business goals and explore how we can elevate (and automate) your client experience today.

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