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The Benefits of a Client Onboarding Survey

Improve the onboarding process with customer feedback. Use this guide to learn how to leverage client onboarding surveys to your advantage.

When you start working with a new client, a lot of effort goes into onboarding.

In many cases, you need efficient communication throughout the onboarding process. It ensures that both sides know exactly what to expect from each other, reduces conflict, and most importantly, minimizes revenue loss due to client churn.

What you might not know is that there’s a simple tool that can jumpstart your onboarding communication. It’s called a client onboarding survey, and it’s a simple way to improve your company's onboarding process.

What is a client onboarding survey?

This is a survey that you send to new clients before you get deep into the onboarding process, which 96% of companies consider vital for business growth. The entire point is to collect information about the client and their operations so that you can adapt to the information and strategize accordingly. These types of surveys are also known as client onboarding questionnaires and are similar to employee onboarding surveys.

In general, you'll gather information about your client. This will include essentials like contact information, more advanced bits such as their current marketing strategy, and even specifics surrounding their current project information.

There's no perfect, universal survey for all clients and projects. The point is to customize the survey to ensure you have all of the information you need to move forward.

It’s worth noting that these surveys work great in a welcome email series.

Benefits of using a customer onboarding survey

Now that you have a better grasp of client onboarding surveys, you may be interested in the benefits of using these questionnaires. In a general sense, the surveys are all about communication. You’re trying to break the ice with the client in an efficient and useful way.

When you’re attempting to write a great welcome email for new customers, you can slip in the survey.

By taking full advantage of a customer onboarding questionnaire, you can streamline a few operations at your company. A survey can also help you understand your customers, improve your interactions with them, and enhance your onboarding process as a whole.

Understand your customers better

This is the primary function of the survey. You’re trying to learn about your customer so that you can customize your onboarding accordingly.

The basic information speaks for itself. With this, you will establish primary communication channels essential to the whole ordeal.

Specific questions can peel back operational layers and help you fully understand the client’s infrastructure. This allows you to think about client training, resource deployment, timelines, and more as you build up the onboarding process.

In general, the more you know about your client, the better prepared you are to work with them.

Enhance client interactions

It’s easy to overlook, but a primary advantage of using a survey is enhancing client interactions. Once you have the survey information, you can cut past certain conversations and get straight to the most important discussions.

Imagine 2 scenarios. In the first, you meet with the client to talk to them about their operations. You’re using the meeting to learn more about them, knowing that your onboarding strategy and process will depend on this conversation.

In the second scenario, you have the same meeting at the same time as your customer interaction, but instead of asking them questions, you’re already making suggestions. You can say to them, “Because you’re already spending 20% of your marketing budget on Facebook ads, we want to roll out an Instagram program that will immediately benefit from that spending.”

It’s a specific example, but it highlights how you can cut to the chase, save time, and impress your customer with your understanding of their business. The survey improves the value of your interactions with the client and helps you achieve customer success by saving you precious time and resources.

Improve your onboarding program

Here’s the thing about a customer onboarding survey. The first one won’t be perfect. You'll ask some questions that don’t matter and miss items that turn out to be important.

The good news is that you can learn from this. First, you’ll learn about each of your clients, which can help you understand future customers. Second, you’ll adjust your surveys and how you use them, making them even more valuable in the future. In both cases, you’re taking the positive and negative feedback received to find opportunities and refine your process.

It’s a two-pronged benefit that helps you broaden your understanding of each client while improving the onboarding experience, thus making it easier to boost client retention.

Questions to include in your client onboarding survey

If those benefits sound enticing, you may consider building an onboarding feedback survey to see if it will work for your business model.

Something that can help you in that area is to think about the specific questions you might include in your survey. You can often break questions into 4 categories:

  • Client information
  • Business-specific information
  • Marketing information
  • Project-focused information

Like employee onboarding survey questions, the questions in each section will be substantially different, so let’s go over the goals of each type of query and look at some examples.

2 men sit on a couch in an office, while one is holding a laptop happily discussing their marketing strategy.

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Client information

This is the starting point and where you find out their preferred forms of communication. It’s where you get the essential information about how your client operates. You find out where they're located, what social media they use — all of the basics.

With this information, you can take a deep dive into the client. You can explore their website and social media to learn more about them and get the names of key contacts to gain insight into those individuals.

These questions get your foot in the door.

Business-specific information

This is where you start to peel back layers. It’s where you get to know the business philosophy and some of the specific ways clients operate. Here are a few sample questions to paint a picture:

  • What is the vision for your brand?
  • Who is your primary audience?
  • Do you have any main competitors?
  • How are you trying to outperform the competition?
  • How many people do you employ?
  • What are some future goals for the company?

You get the idea. You’re trying to get to know the company as a person, so to speak. You want to see what they’re currently doing and where they’re trying to go. This helps shape how you can best approach the business with your ideas and suggestions.

Marketing information

We’re getting more specific. Marketing questions are going to get right to the point. How are you trying to grow your audience? Here are a few sample questions to help stimulate ideas for your own questionnaire:

  • What are your primary marketing channels?
  • How do you allocate your marketing budget?
  • What is your marketing budget?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses in marketing?

Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Think about what you really need to know about their marketing process, and then ask about it directly.

Project-focused information

Your questionnaire may look at a client's project. For example, you might work with a business to create the communication infrastructure for a new customer service rollout. It’s a big project, and both sides of the partnership will have much to do. So, what can you ask them in a questionnaire to facilitate onboarding? Here are some suggestions:

  • What are the specific metrics that you’ll monitor for this project?
  • What is the general goal of the project?
  • What is the budget?
  • What is your deadline?

Beyond those generic queries, you’ll be asking questions that are specific to the project. Depending on the task, there are likely resource questions that you'll want to ask, like how many people are working on the project, what kind of space is allocated, and what types of tools are already available.

Best practices for client onboarding questionnaires

The sample questions should help you think about how to build your onboarding questionnaires, but there are a few best practices that are also worth remembering.

First, keep it simple. While you want to get into the specifics of the company and project to add value to the questionnaire, having too many questions and unclear queries can lead to clients not completing the survey. So, hone in on what matters most.

Second, use a template. It’s a straightforward way to organize your questionnaire, and you can ensure your survey is consistent, making it easier to maintain your brand's image and obtain adequate responses.

Third, never stand still. You already understand that continuous improvement is a part of running a business, and that holds true for onboarding surveys. Pay attention to their usefulness, and learn from each questionnaire and your onboarding program. You'll only grow as a result.

Fourth, send the survey at the right time. Ideally, you want to know all you can about the client before you begin the onboarding process. You also send a survey once onboarding is complete to gather feedback.

Create client onboarding surveys with Mailchimp

Surveys can help you clean up some of the early parts of the onboarding process and provide insight into areas that need improvement—all while allowing you to understand your clients better. If you're considering making an onboarding questionnaire, think carefully about the questions you'll ask and ensure it reaches customers at the perfect moment.

With Mailchimp, you'll have access to several marketing tools necessary for creating surveys, automation, customer relationship management, and more. So, you can easily build, send, and manage questionnaires in one centralized location.

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