If you standardize one process this year, make it this one

If there’s one process your firm should get right, every single time, it’s your client onboarding process.

You need a smooth and repeatable process that transitions prospects into paying clients in a swift and consistent way, with their needs at the forefront.

To do this, you need to standardize your client onboarding process.

What does it mean to standardize your client onboarding process?

Standardizing all your accounting firm’s processes is a huge task. It involves understanding every single step of every single process, including who does what, when, why and how. You then take that information and optimize it, document it, test it and refine it.

The end goal is a well-oiled machine—a firm that operates smoothly and consistently. Each process is refined and documented, so that it’s performed the best way, every single time.

But if you standardize everything all at once, it will quickly become one of the most overwhelming projects you can undertake. 

Although that shouldn’t deter you from standardizing your firm’s processes—the benefits far-outweigh the time and effort it takes. 

So, instead, begin by tackling one process. Think of it like a practice or prototype. And why not begin with one of your most common and important processes—client onboarding?

Why you should standardize your client onboarding process

Your client onboarding process is the difference between locking in a satisfied, long-term client, and providing a bad experience at the time when it’s easiest for them to churn.

You need to set a good first impression with a solid onboarding process for your clients that:

  • Is consistent

  • Makes sense and is relevant to them

  • Is timely

  • Is organized

  • Is a human experience

  • Meets (or exceeds) their expectations

The only way to make this happen is by taking the time to standardize and document the process, and completely rethink how your firm does it. So that each time you onboard a new client, you are delivering on that criteria.

By standardizing your client onboarding onboarding process you can:

  1. Turn prospects into paying clients quicker

  2. Increase the ability to scale this process, so your team can onboard more clients, more often without the need to hire

  3. Provide a consistent client experience from the get-go, and set expectations early

  4. Generate referrals (94% of people will recommend a company to others after an excellent experience)

  5. Reducing client churn (59% of consumers walk away from brands after poor experiences)

  6. Increase their overall client lifetime value

Don’t start from scratch

Your accounting firm isn’t the only one onboarding new clients. There are firms across the world performing and perfecting this function, so leverage their efforts and save time with client onboarding templates.

The Karbon Template Library has hundreds of pre-existing templates ready for you to use and customize to suit your firm’s client onboarding needs.

You can use this Client Onboarding Checklist template to get started.

If you use Karbon, you can add these templates directly to your account with a single click. Or if you’re not ready to use Karbon yet—or even use another system—you can still download them as .XLS spreadsheets.

Review your performance and implement a standardization program

When you’ve standardized, documented, tested and refined your client onboarding process, take the time to learn from it. What worked well? What opportunities did you recognize that could improve the steps you took? What can make it more efficient?

Then, put a plan in place to chip away at each of your firm’s processes.

The most important step is the first step, so make it count by standardizing your client onboarding process.