The art of onboarding clients and managing expectations

On-boarding a new client is often overlooked for the sake of meeting urgent deadlines, but often we hit the four-month mark and client starts looking less than impressed and doesn’t understand why we delivered so well and so quickly for that first campaign and here we are a few months down the line and it’s like we don’t even know each other.


Starting off a new client relationship is very much like dating. We need to take the time upfront to get to know each other. Ask as many questions as possible. Find out what makes us tick, define goals and what success looks like as well as expectations around timing.


And just like dating­­– and any relationship in fact– communication is critical. You will learn what works for each client, but there is nothing more worrying for a new client than signing the contract and not hearing anything from your new agency for a number of weeks. This responsibility sits with the client service lead to ensure even during those early days when work might just be trickling in, that the client is kept updated.


You date me, you date my family

Once the onboarding has been completed with the client and you feel that you are both on the same page moving forward, it is just as important to brief the rest of the agency that will be working on the account, directly or indirectly. Success here requires teamwork and empowering the greater team will go a long way to improve the level of outputs.


Flowers and chocolates won’t cut it

When the on-boarding discussion happens with a client, they often agree and fully understand that time needs to be dedicated in the beginning to get to know the business in order to deliver what is needed and at the level required, but they are also under a lot of pressure to show results, therefore, make sure you have a “quick win” strategy in place to prove value quickly.


Take lots of photos for your album

Lastly, all your efforts would be wasted if you do not have the right tools in place. You’ve just spent days, weeks and maybe even months setting goals, crafting key messages, calculating budgets and targeting the correct audience, but if you do not have access to tools that will track, monitor and report, how will you be able to look back and gauge whether you’re on the right track and moving the dial for your client? Also, be considerate to find tools that integrate nicely with your client’s needs as well.


Your days of taking a hundred Instagram selfies of your best side are gone, your best side is now the good work that you do for your client – the work that matters to them. And if you want this to turn into a long-term relationship, put the time and work in upfront that will set the scene for the journey you have ahead together.

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