Streamlining Client Onboarding

February 3, 2021

An effective client onboarding process saves you time and is an essential part of your client's experience.

It's an afterthought until it becomes a bottleneck. Not having a proper client onboarding process can introduce problems during the project from misaligned expectations, scope creeps, and unwanted delays.

Client onboarding is an afterthought until it becomes a bottleneck.

On top of compromising the project's success, lacking a clear client onboarding process produces a lot of back and forth to get the information and assets that you need to start the project, unnecessarily wasting your team's time and putting stress on your client.

An Effective Client Onboarding

There are three main things your client onboarding should address to be effective.

  1. Transfer Of Assets
  2. Cadence Of Communications
  3. Project Brief

Transfer of assets

It's best practice to evaluate all assets, documents, and research relevant to the project before the kickoff.

This ensures that you and your team have the proper context and are able to ask clarifying questions to expand on areas outside of their domain.

It's not the client's job to figure out what assets they need to send you.

You should create a list of the assets you need from your client and provide a default method for transferring the files.

For non-sensitive information, you can use a cloud-based solution such as google drive or dropbox.

For more sensitive data, the client will usually have a file-exchange protocol that you and your team can follow.

Whatever the case, make sure to follow a standardized way to organize the assets in folders.

Here's an example of how to organize your project's assets. Feel free to modify according to your needs.

Example of how to organize project assets. – Ed Orozco
Example of how to organize project assets.


Before starting the project, give your client precise, written instructions on how to upload their assets. You can send the instructions via email and, preferably, walk them through them on a call.

Cadence Of Communications

As your agency grows, you'll start working with more senior clients with tight schedules. Agreeing in advance on when communications will take place will save you many headaches and make you look more professional.

Here are a few tips for when to book meetings.

  • Don't do revision meetings at the end of the day. Otherwise, you'll increase the tendency of meetings extending far beyond necessary because it's everyone's last appointment of the day. It also makes it harder for your team to collect their notes and ideas on the client's feedback, which leads to omissions and things falling through the cracks.
  • Confirm that your client or decision-maker will always be available at the proposed time. The last thing you want is a meeting that keeps getting changed and canceled every week. Make sure your team will be available at that time as well.
  • Allow a buffer of at least 15 mins before and after the meeting. Make sure that your team has enough time to prepare for the discussion and that they will be able to capture all their ideas after it ends.

Project Brief

While there might be some adjustments to be done after the kickoff meeting, you should have a good idea of the desired project outcome.

You and your sales team should create a document that describes the context of the project and its main goals. This document is known as a project brief.

The brief has to provide enough detail for anyone on your team to learn what the project is about and hit the ground running.

I also recommend doing at least one internal briefing meeting where you and/or your sales team answer questions about the project brief, the client, and the project.

While the project brief is usually an internal document, it is sometimes helpful to share it with the client to ensure there's alignment between what was discussed during the sales process and what the team will do.

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