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Your guide to efficient SaaS-style client onboarding for your SaaS agency
Your guide to efficient SaaS-style client onboarding for your SaaS agency

Client onboarding is perhaps one of the most crucial processes for SaaS agencies. You’ve worked hard to earn the client’s business, and in the initial stages you can’t afford to start on the wrong foot. A smooth onboarding process sets the scene for the relationship ahead. This includes establishing the tone, expectations, and mode of working with each other.

Why onboarding matters

This period also sees the agency onboard the new client into their business systems, and marks the start of knowledge sharing. As you’d imagine, it’s a busy time for everyone involved. When starting to automate your SaaS agency processes, we recommend you begin with your onboarding processes. Automating the onboarding of new business can save you time, money, and even improve your client relationship. It also ensures:

  1. A clear communication channel (we recommend asking clients to nominate one person as their spokesperson);
  2. Increased visibility - more parties can track and monitor tasks;
  3. Reduces dependence on documents and ensures a steady flow of information;
  4. Reduces errors and speeds up the onboarding process.

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Do it with automation

Nearly every aspect of your onboarding process can be automated. We’d suggest you begin by understanding what it is you already do well as an agency. Following this, identify the pain points within your current onboarding processes. From here, decide how best to make use of programs, platforms, or outside technical knowledge. There’s no need to automate elements of your onboarding that already work well. As the saying goes - don’t fix it if it ain’t broke!

Another great starting point is email. Ask your onboarding team what their most common email responses are, and standardise them. A great CRM system will allow you to automate this aspect of your onboarding process easily. Create swipe files and cheat sheets of the most common emails during the onboarding period. You’ll find that responding to common email requests becomes quick and easy.

Templates will be your best friend during this process. They ensure brand and message consistency, and will save you time. Again, think about the typical messages you send clients during onboarding. Create branded templates to reflect these.

Tools to use to help with automation

Tools and programs that help automate your onboarding processes come in all shapes and sizes. The trick, as mentioned previously, is to have a good understanding of how your business works and your pain points.

Do you need an all-in-one project management tool? Or are you a small agency who requires email templates? Either way, there are various strategies and processes you may find useful. Typical methods of automating onboarding processes include making use of:

  • Questionnaires;

  • Sign-up forms;

  • Automated emails;

  • Create welcome packs with need-to-know information and key contact details;

  • Create documents that outline your agency’s standard operating procedures;

  • Making use of project management software - for example Trello, Asana or Basecamp.

There are a few other programs we’d recommend you consider having in your toolbox. Typeform is a free platform that creates no fuss forms and questionnaires - a must in any SaaS onboarding strategy. Zapier is great for connecting your favourite apps, and ensuring a holistic workflow process. Check out IFTTT for a plethora of handy applets that can help streamline your social, emails, and more.

Common Onboarding Mistakes

Traditional agencies rely on charming the client once they’ve made contact. SaaS agencies need to move towards an approach where the auto-SaaS sign-up process does the charming itself. SaaS onboarding walks a fine line. The process should aim for seamless automation that lets the client onboard themselves. But it still needs to be designed with user experience in mind.

Security

The client shouldn’t feel insecure throughout the process. No one wants to hand over their credit card details without knowing what they’ll be getting, right? If you’re asking the client to pay upfront, be upfront. Be clear about what they’re getting as the exchange of money is effectively a contract for services.

Value

Another common onboarding mistake is not providing value. All too often, prospective clients are confronted with a billboard of non-negotiable costs. Whilst it’s good to be explicit in outlining your costs, sign up forms that are just simple enquiry forms don’t provide any immediate return or value. There’s no automated reply. No customisable quote. Allowing prospective leads to fill out customisable forms would not only increase conversion rates, but also provide the agency with useful data.

Don’t overcommit

As well as providing users with little value, another mistake is assuming new clients want to immediately follow your agency on their personal social accounts, sign up to EDMs, or refer all their friends. Here, providing a less daunting chat box is a viable option.

Finally, whilst it’s a good idea to keep it simple - there’s a difference between keeping it simple and not asking the right questions. Now that the client has signed up to your service, you have the go ahead to ask more sensitive questions. Be sure to include these as part of your onboarding process.

The final word


If you’re hoping that clients are going to find your website, and simply sign-up and start using your SaaS service - you’re wrong. Your onboarding process is crucial. You need to make the process work for you.  

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