Knock-knock. It’s a new client! And now, you need to welcome them and create a great first impression.
Before clients reach out to seek a coach’s services, they generally research the market to get an idea about services and charges. They go through reviews and sometimes even speak with the coach’s former clients.
And after a lot of inquiry, they finally found you. Validate their decision by creating a stellar client onboarding process and starting an excellent working relationship with your new client.
A client onboarding process informs your clients about your business and services in detail. When onboarding a new client, don’t just inform them about your program or what to expect, but you also learn about them.
An effective onboarding process makes a good first impression. And you can define your strategy before meeting with your next client with our client onboarding checklist.
Learn the ins and outs of onboarding, including why it’s essential to start your coach-client relationship on the right foot.
What is customer onboarding?
Customer or client onboarding refers to the process by which a product or service provider familiarizes new clients with their offering. Any type of business could have a customer onboarding process.
As a coach, onboarding allows you to welcome new clients to your practice, outline how your services function, and answer any questions before you start working with them.
Why you need an onboarding client checklist
An experienced coach could probably hit all the critical points about their practice in a sit-down with a new client. But even an experienced professional could forget something, so no matter where you are in your coaching journey, it’s essential to have a checklist. Here’s why remembering to mention every last thing is crucial important:
- Avoid misunderstandings: Explain how you run your coaching practice, important logistical details about payment and scheduling, and what a client can expect from sessions to ensure processes run smoothly from the start. It also encourages the client to ask questions before starting work instead of down the road when those questions may cause more confusion. You don’t want a client to wonder how to cancel a session 15 minutes before a meeting.
- Help set clear expectations: Clients should know what your services cover (and what they don’t). A new client may have unrealistic or misguided ideas about coaching that could lead to disappointment when your program doesn’t fulfill them. And you want the client to walk away fulfilled. Well-informed clients stick around and even refer you to their contacts. You also get the opportunity to voice your expectations for clients so that they don’t feel blindsided.
- Build trust: One of a coach’s most essential roles is establishing an ambiance of trust. You’ll be working on sensitive issues with your client, and they should feel like they’re in a safe space. The more straightforward conversation you have at the start, the better a client will feel about your services. Use your onboarding process as an opportunity to show your professionalism and how seriously you take your practice.
- Reduces churn rate: Clients feel comfortable trusting you when you clearly describe every service in the coaching plan. Ensure you create a great first impression so clients join you. A comprehensive checklist not only allows you to cover each topic in detail but also lets clients understand everything in depth.
Nail your onboarding process with this checklist
Before we tell you how to create your own checklist, check out Arete Pursuits’ checklist, which is not only comprehensive but also a great example to seek inspiration. Created for coaches by a coach, the checklist emphasizes every section and looks neat and systematic.
Now, pull out a paper and pen or a word processor. It’s time to write out your onboarding process steps. Start a solid working relationship with a new client with this step-by-step guide:
- Hold an intake session: Get to know your new client in a kick-off meeting. Have them fill out an intake form that explains the reason for seeking services and provides information about their pain points and goals as well as previous coaching experience (if any). Not only do you learn about the potential client, but you also get an opportunity to refer them to a colleague if you no longer feel the client is a good fit for your services.
- Create a client onboarding questionnaire: Get all the essential information from your client, from basic data such as their billing and contact information (which you’ll need for your services agreement) to more specific information about what they hope to achieve. Niche coaches, such as fitness or mental health, may add targeted questions about diagnoses given by healthcare professionals.
- Sign a contract: Contracts aren’t just protection in a dispute. They are also essential onboarding documents. Business owners can write out the terms of their service, payment, cancellations, and more, informing clients about minute details.
- Send an invoice or good faith estimate: Share a good faith estimate to the client to ensure the client knows how much they need to shell out. Plus, invoice the client for the first session or coaching package.
- Set the “rules” for communication: In a session, communication is everything. And it’s also essential outside of sessions, which means you should have a clear communication plan for your client. Establish your “office hours,” appropriate forms of contact, and best practices on how often a client can contact you and how long you’ll take to respond.
Tips for improving your client onboarding checklist
If you already have an onboarding list but are looking for ways to enhance it, you’re in luck. Here are a few tips on taking your client onboarding process to the next level:
- Create a roadmap: Make a clear roadmap for the information you’ll provide to new clients so you don’t miss important details or pile too much information on your client in the first meeting. You can also create a blueprint for the client’s coaching journey. Make a general template to develop specific goals and action items later.
- Listen to your client: Practice your active listening skills by focusing on the client's expectations and needs from day one. You could discover that a client isn’t a good fit for your services and avoid a potentially negative experience. You could also find that a new client is an excellent fit, but their expectations for your services are off, and you can clarify what you provide. Any information you glean about your client in the onboarding process gives context and will help as you create a formal coaching plan.
- Seek feedback and implement it: An error in your onboarding experience is an opportunity to improve it. If you’re not clear enough about an expectation or clients are confused about an aspect of your business, follow up by adapting your onboarding materials to address this concern.
Get organized with Practice
One of the best ways to establish trust with new clients is by demonstrating that their personal information is secure. A customer relationship management (CRM) tool further streamlines your onboarding process and adds a layer of professionalism to your business. This can go a long way when showing new clients you care.
Practice’s CRM tool, designed with coaches in mind, keeps client data safe and helps you organize your calendar. Receive secure payments and send documents — like your intake form or contract — to your clients for review. Try it today.