customer onboarding automation
Last updated on June 26th, 2024

Customer Onboarding Automation: Maximizing Agency Efficiency

Key points

  1. Automating customer onboarding ensures a consistent experience for all clients, reduces human error, and saves time by eliminating manual data entry and task management.
  2. Client onboarding automation can be accomplished by defining the client journey, using client portal software, and using automation tools like Zapier.
  3. Reviews and updates to the automated onboarding process help maintain personalized client engagements while optimizing efficiency and customer satisfaction.

If you’re looking at your current agency client onboarding process and are wondering what could be improved, here’s something you should definitely do: set up customer onboarding automations.

Imagine this: your leads make a purchase via the order forms set up in your client portal, they log in, and are ready to get started. But you don’t have all the necessary information to commence work. You’re missing key data such as what the client wants to achieve, their brand assets, and other things.

Back in the days, an account manager would handle this process manually. Today, you can automate everything. Let me show you how it’s done.

Why automate the customer onboarding process?

If your agency is still onboarding customers manually, it’s time to enhance the onboarding experience and save your team time. There’s no easier way to do that except with an automated onboarding process.

Here’s what you’re currently dealing with if you’re manually onboarding clients:

  • Wasting time: Entering data manually into spreadsheets is not the way to do business in 2024.

  • Human errors: One copy-paste goes wrong and it can derail entire projects.

  • Wonky communication: Your team talks in five different channels and delays decisions.

  • Different experiences: The customer experience is not the same if the process isn’t defined.

  • High overhead: Manual tasks always require more hands on deck.

With this in mind, let’s look at 5 reasons why you should automate client onboarding:

  1. All new clients receive the same onboarding experience.

  2. You can build a process that scales with your agency.

  3. It’s easier to reduce the risk for human errors.

  4. Save time and reduce the amount of human input needed.

  5. You can measure and improve the customer onboarding experience.

Furthermore, if your clients have a good onboarding experience, it can improve the client retention by up to 82%, as per a Gitnux report.

How to automate customer onboarding in 5 steps

Now that you’re aware of why you should automate your onboarding process, let me show you how to do it.

1. Analyze the onboarding journey

Before you even begin to think about automated workflows, think about the customer journey. What kind of customer interactions can you identify, from the very first moment they make a purchase and fill out a client intake form, all the way to talking to your customer success team.

Let’s look at what marketing agencies should analyze.

Sales process

How are you gaining leads, what are you promising them, and what are their client expectations? The onboarding journey begins at this point; expectations can be high, or skewed, if you overpromise, but ultimately underdeliver. Make sure that both parties are on the same page on the deliverables and service offered.

Purchase process

Once your hot leads are ready to buy, you should make the purchase process as easy as possible. You can either send them to one of your order forms, invoice them, or ask them to save their payment information and charge them for your services.

Receive payments automatically on time with our billing feature

Whichever method you make use of, ensure that the customer doesn’t encounter any issues.

Onboarding process

With the purchase done, the customer’s onboarding journey enters the final and most important round. If you’re using Service Provider Pro, the client is greeted by a receipt page. It allows them to log into their client portal, open intake forms, and fill them out.

Receipt intake form notice

If onboarding forms are not part of your receipt page, the account manager can assign the form later, triggering an automated email to the customer. An effective onboarding process will test which of these scenarios is the better one. Ask yourself: is it likely that the customer doesn’t want to fill out any forms after purchase? If so, it makes sense to assign the onboarding form at a later time.

2. Set up an onboarding team

According to Precursive’s Customer Onboarding Benchmark Report 2021, 74% of all enterprise companies have a dedicated team to handle onboarding. Smaller companies, especially agencies, don’t have the same resources. After all, they don’t offer custom-priced enterprise software that secure six-figure deals.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t have at least one person in customer success who handles the onboarding, or ensures that this part of the agency business is taken care of. In SPP, you can easily assign a manager to every client account. They’ll be automatically added to all orders and tickets, and can keep an eye on new clients.

add account manager

In SPP.co, I recommend to set up service-based tasks for your account managers. Once a purchase is made, they are assigned to it, can easily track their tasks, and keep an eye on their clients.

3. Use client onboarding software

As you can see, some processes are already automated if you’re using a marketing agency client portal such as Service Provider Pro. You’re no longer relying on manual reminders that you have to snooze, spreadsheets, and endless email chains. Everything is in one place, making it easy for you to increase customer satisfaction.

Grow your industry knowledge
Join thousands of agency owners and get our best agency growth content in your inbox, one email per month 👇️

That’s not all, though, we’ve gone above and beyond when it comes to facilitating seamless onboarding. Similar to dedicated client onboarding software, we’ve built a feature that makes it easy to automate your client onboarding process.

With your dedicated client onboarding portal, you can give every customer a page that guides them through the next steps:

  • Write an intro and record a video they can watch.

  • Give them a list of tasks to fulfill.

  • Link them to external blog posts.

  • Allow them to access the main client portal pages.

SPP Client Onboarding Page

Thanks to our easy-to-use onboarding page builder, you can edit all the sections of the default onboarding page. And those who have access to the template editor can dig into the code and make changes to the layout of the page. You can use conditional logic and even display different information based on CRM fields, purchased services, and other client-related information.

4. Make use of automation tools

The final step is setting up an automation process that pipes all your data into your client portal. Let’s assume you’re using ActiveCampaign for marketing purposes, and once a purchase is made, you want to add your client to an onboarding sequence. With our Zapier integration, you can do just that.

Zapier logo
Zapier
Build automations between SPP and hundreds of other tools.
Learn more →
ActiveCampaign logo
ActiveCampaign
Subscribe and tag clients in ActiveCampaign.
Learn more →

Use the New Client trigger and use a condition to only continue if it’s a Client. Then tag the client in ActiveCampaign with “Onboarding”, and send them your onboarding sequence.

Let’s look at other areas you can automate.

Data enrichment

Imagine your client has created an account, but hasn’t made any purchases yet. If you already have their full billing details in your CRM, send the data to SPP with Zapier, and update their client account.

Keep all data about your clients in one place with our crm feature

This will enhance the customer experience because they won’t need to fill out their billing details—everything is already saved, making the checkout process faster.

Upselling

If your team is still spending time upselling clients manually, there’s a better way. With a fully automated process for upselling, you can catch the customer at the perfect time, when they are actually open to spend money.

SPP Upsell option

Since you have all the purchase data inside your SPP portal, you can set up automations to upsell clients in different ways:

  • when a specific product is bought, update a client CRM field, use the data to display a message inside the client portal

  • alternatively, add the customer to an email drip campaign and email them about a related service

  • upsell them right after purchase by adding custom code to your order forms as explained here

Notifications

When your team needs to stay on top of the client onboarding, you should make the process easy for them. Here’s an example: instead of manually checking if the onboarding form has been submitted, set up an automation like this:

  • enable the webhooks module in SPP

  • choose form.onboarding.submitted

  • catch the webhook in Make or Zapier

  • send the data to Slack as a notification

Your team will receive notifications when onboarding forms have been submitted, and can take the next steps in the customer’s onboarding journey.

5. Measure and refine your process

Customer onboarding automations are not a kind of set-it-and-forget-it deal. You might’ve spent a while on defining the perfect setup, but you’ll only know if it works after launching it. Take customer feedback into account once the first clients run through the process, analyze their behavior with heatmaps, and figure out if there are ways to streamline and automate even more.

Get Integration Help

Euripides Euripides
Looking for custom solutions? See how our certified SPP experts can help you.

There might even be bottlenecks that you haven’t thought about, even after simulating the customer journey with your team. Keep in mind that your perspective is that of an agency owner, someone familiar with your services, tools, and processes. Your clients are unfamiliar with it, and they might have different expectations of what is supposed to happen next.

Client onboarding automation FAQ

Can client onboarding be automated?

Client onboarding can be automated using various tools to handle client tasks, data collection, document verification, and communication. Automated workflows streamline the process, improving efficiency and accuracy, while improving customer retention.

How often should I review and update my automated onboarding process?

It’s a good practice to review your automated onboarding process regularly. How often depends on your specific circumstances, but a quarterly review is a common approach. This allows you to make timely updates based on customer feedback, new business needs, or changes to your products or services.

Will automating client onboarding negatively impact the personal touch?

Automating client onboarding should not negatively impact the personal connection with your customers if done properly. While the process is automated, personalization can still be integrated within emails, tasks, videos and other onboarding materials. Also, combining automation with periods of human interaction can help strike the right balance.

Automate your client onboarding today

If you’re still contemplating how to automate your customer onboarding process, this blog post has hopefully given you not only inspiration, but actionable tips to get started right away. Running any sort of agency requires you to make the most out of your time, cut down on manual tasks, and make the experience for your clients as good as you can.

Automating manual onboarding tasks allows your team to focus on more important things that require their full attention. And you can service customers faster and more efficiently.

Avatar of Deian Isac
Head of Agency Success
Having worked as a content writer for 8+ years, Deian has partnered up with a lot of different agencies for content production. He understands their processes and now helps agencies scale up their operations with SPP. Besides his success activities, he also manages the content strategy of Service Provider Pro, writes captivating blog posts himself, and produces case studies.

Running an agency?

See how a Client Portal can help you sell more services…
Learn more