There’s nothing like the feeling of landing a new client. You’re smiling, your team is smiling, and it’s time to celebrate.
But then something happens: The initial euphoria wears off and you realize it’s time to get down to business.
There’s no exact science to onboarding a new client, but there are things you can do to streamline the experience and ensure that the engagement gets off on the right foot.
So, with that in mind, it’s time to make an introduction:
Welcome to the Client Onboarding Questionnaire
A client onboarding questionnaire is a survey you share with new customers to collect additional information such as goals and the client’s vision for the project.
The primary purpose of an onboarding questionnaire is to better understand the specific wants and needs of the client, as to improve the likelihood of providing a high-level experience.
Here are three reasons why a client onboarding questionnaire is so important:
1. It Acts as an Official Welcome
When it comes to any working relationship, it’s critical to make a good first impression. A client onboarding questionnaire helps you do just that.
Alongside the questionnaire, you can include material such as:
- One page overview of your company
- Personalized note of introduction
- Branded merchandise
Consider a questionnaire, along with this associated information, to serve as your formal welcome package. It may seem like a small thing to you, but it highlights your dedication, customer service, and attention to detail to your new client.
2. It Sets Clear Expectations
It’s safe to assume you discussed the scope of your arrangement during the sales process, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve set clear expectations.
A client onboarding questionnaire allows you and your client to get on the same page before day one of your engagement arrives.
For example, if you’re providing the client with SEO services, include questions such as:
- What are your SEO related goals, both short and long-term?
- Have you ever worked with a digital agency in the past? How would you rate the results?
- How do you measure SEO performance?
If the answers align with your approach and what’s included in the contract, you’re good to go. However, if you notice a change in tone or scope creep, you can discuss points of concern to clear the air and set better expectations.
3. It Provides You With More Information
You spend a lot of time narrowing your target audience to ensure that you’re selling to the right prospects. You also collect targeted information during the sales process.
But even with this approach, you’ll never have all the details you need unless you ask for them.
A client onboarding questionnaire is a simple way to collect a variety of information that you can use to better understand your client and their expectations.
Which leads us to the next section…
What to Include in Your Client Onboarding Questionnaire
The key to success is to customize the questionnaire to suit your needs, all while making it simple enough for your new client to complete in a timely manner.
Shoot for between 15 and 20 questions that fit into four basic categories:
1. Client Information
- Who is the primary point of contact for this project?
- What is this person’s contact information?
- What’s the preferred method of communication?
- Do you have any supporting documents to share?
2. Marketing Information
- What is your company’s vision for the future and mission statement?
- What are your short and long-term goals as a company?
- Who is your target audience?
- Who are your top three to five competitors?
3. Project Information
- What goals have you set for this project?
- What metrics will you track to measure results?
- Do you have a deadline?
- Have you previously tackled a similar project, either in-house or with another agency?
4. General Information
- What excites you most about working with our company?
- What can we do from a customer support perspective to ensure that you get what you want?
- How did you find our company? Online search, referral, social media?
While these questions pertain to almost every client, you’ll want to customize these - and add others - based on the agreed-upon services.
For example, if you’re a digital marketing agency providing a client with SEO services, include questions such as:
- Are you familiar with your website’s current search engine rankings and traffic?
- What tools do you use or have you used to track SEO related metrics, such as backlinks, search engine rankings, and traffic?
- What SEO work have you completed internally or with the help of another agency?
Asking these targeted questions provides greater insight into the specific services you’re providing.
What Not To Include In Your Questionnaire
There’s not much that fits into the “what not to include” category, as it’s up to you to decide what’s best for you and your client. However, there are things you can avoid to increase the likelihood of receiving detailed answers.
Don’t make these mistakes:
- Questions that require the respondent to put too much time into providing an answer
- Questions the respondent won’t be able to answer, but will instead have to pass through to a team member
- Questions that have no clear answer
Remember, new clients aren’t always in a position to answer every question you throw at them. They’re hiring you to help answer some of these questions.
Take for instance the question “what metrics will you track to measure results?”
You have a clear idea of how you’ll do this internally, but your client may require some educating as to what makes the most sense.
Maybe they’ve hired you for email marketing related tasks, such as help growing their email list. To them, the only thing that matters is the number of people on the list. But to you, other metrics, such as open rate and click rate, are every bit as important.
Tip: If a particular question continually goes unanswered or causes confusion, consider rewording it or eliminating it from your questionnaire.
How To Distribute Your Client Onboarding Questionnaire
Once you’re happy with your questionnaire, it’s time to distribute it. There are several ways of doing so, including:
If you’re new to the world of client onboarding questionnaires, email and Google Sheets is often the fastest way to get started. This entails:
- Creating your questionnaire as a Google Sheet (you can just duplicate it for the next client)
- Sending it to your primary point of contact via email
- Requesting that they complete the questionnaire and email back to you
While it’s fast to create and send, this method often presents challenges in regards to collecting data and distributing it to your team.
For more efficiency in that department, form software like a Google Form or Typeform, is typically the better choice. Benefits include:
- More flexibility in regards to how you share the questionnaire
- Easier for your client to complete and return
- More convenient to share with your team
- Use of templates to customize your questionnaire
Just the same as the questionnaire itself, how you distribute and collect information is ever-evolving. Experiment with a few strategies to find the one that’s best for you.
What to do Internally with a Completed Questionnaire
Good news: You received the questionnaire back from your new client and you now have more information than you ever thought possible.
It’s time to put it to use.
Using a tool like Zapier you can have all of that data fed in to your CRM or project management software, which means you're off to the races. You can even have projects set up based on the questionnaire becoming complete.
The team assigned to the client should also get notice that it's complete. It's now their job to get started with the client and potentially set up a follow-up meeting.
Creating a client onboarding questionnaire doesn’t have to be a long, laborious process. It can be an exciting way to welcome your clients to your agency.
Just be sure to leverage automation when you can so your team members can focus on getting results, not chasing clients for forms.