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Nailing your client onboarding process as a virtual assistant

What is an onboarding process?

Basically a fancy term for the series of actions you take once a new client has agreed to work with you, bringing the client into your business and become part of theirs, plus get all the legal and necessary information shared and set up. It can be as simple as one email.


As we all know, first impressions matter so it is vital that you spend time getting this process right.


A smooth onboarding process will help your client build trust in you and your business and will ensure you have all you need from the client to get started to help them achieve their goals.


If you are the first Virtual Assistant they have worked with, remember they may be nervous about how this is going to work for them, and you can use this process to set them at ease.


Behind the scenes

This might include things like setting up dedicated client folders in your cloud storage and email account, following them on social media, adding them to your customer list in your accounting software (or on your invoice spreadsheet), popping them onto your calendar, populating the contract, and populating your onboarding email.


As you grow, these are all things that you (or your own Virtual Assistant!) can automate within your business.


What do you include in your onboarding email?

Typically, I include:

  • A welcome!

  • A reminder of what they’ve signed up for - hours, package, services, pricing

  • Your business operations - methods of communication, working hours, turnaround times

  • Link to book / suggestions of times for your kick-off call

  • Contract / mention of contract (I recommend you send this separately using an e-signer)

  • First invoice / explanation of when they can expect the invoice

  • Request for what you need to get started - often you might discuss this in the kick-off call, but it can be efficient to request passwords, folder access, email access etc in the onboarding email.

It’s as simple as that. By the time you’ve completed this process, you should have what you need to start on tasks for this client. This onboarding email will be different for every Virtual Assistant, and for each client you work with depending on the services agreed upon.


Your business operations:

Some of this will be included in your contract but bears repeating in the onboarding email.

Really consider your boundaries when outlining your operations. Yes, I talk about boundaries a lot - that's because they are super important and can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful client relationship, as well as the difference between loving your work and burnout.


It is important to establish these boundaries with your client when starting.


How do you prefer to communicate and when? With calls, Zoom, WhatsApp, Voxer, Trello, Slack, Asana, Facebook Messenger and many, many more options available, it can be sensible to limit these options to something like email, one messenger and the preferred project management board - however I have clients that communicate via email only! It has to be what works for you, as long as you let your client know what that is. This way, they will know when to expect to hear back from you. Remember, by establishing these boundaries now it will make the working relationship much easier to manage going forward and means you can refer your client back to them, should the relationship start to change.


Equally, how and when can they expect to hear from you? Will you touch base daily, weekly? Ad hoc on completion of tasks? Do they prefer email or want you to notify them using a project management tool? This is a collaborative effort, so some questions during the kick-off call to clarify these things are useful.


Your kick-off call

Usually a place to answer any questions resulting from the email, deal with log in and password challenges, plus being given your first tasks.


The biggest thing I get asked is - is this call chargeable? Yes! From this point, you are working for the client. Everything that’s come before this though - that’s your business admin and not chargeable to the client.


You can either suggest some suitable times to your client, or better yet, use an online scheduler such as Calendly - the free plan is excellent - which allows them to choose a time convenient to them without needing any back and forth.


Contracts

Have you got your contracts in place? There are lots out there, but I love KoffeeKlatch (you can get 10% off with my code Cozpr10) for new Virtual Assistants. Having your contract ready to edit with the client information and getting it ready for all parties to sign is really important before any work takes place. A contract protects both you and the client and lays out the terms you expect to be paid, ensuring the client is clear from the start. The contract is another brilliant place to lay down those amazing business boundaries you have set in place. It should also include your GDPR and data processing policy.


I also recommend using a digital signer such as Dropbox Sign (again, free account is fab!) - it’s hassle free and gives you secure signing and storage. In your onboarding email, you can reference it with something like ‘your contract will be sent to you via Dropbox Sign, please review and sign before X date’.


Invoice

How and when will you be invoicing your client? Is it in advance or in arrears? Do you intend to include a time-tracked report of hours (I can recommend Toggl). Are you going to attach it to the onboarding email (if in advance), or will it be sent out through a separate service, such as Xero, Quickbooks, FreeAgenct or Bokio?


I recommend using one of the above accounting services for your invoices, and getting it set up (with a business bank account) before issuing any invoices - it keeps things simpler both for you and your client.

  • Establish what systems/emails etc you will need access to. How are passwords going to be shared securely (LastPass, 1password, Dashlane are all password management tools you may want to explore if you don’t already have something in place)? Ensure you have set up everything correctly. If you find yourself having to work with a new system or database that you are not familiar with, you may want to spend time looking at online tutorials or reading up on how best to use it.


Establishing a successful onboarding process creates the foundation for a brilliant and ongoing working relationship with your clients. Remember, onboarding is not just about impressing your clients - it’s about making sure you understand their needs.

Still confused as to what you need to do? Email me at Kayleigh@cozpr.com I would love to help.




*This blog contains affiliate links where one or both of us may receive a fee or discount if you buy. I’m only recommending products I’ve used myself.


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