The drastic upswing in remote work applications this year has introduced a substantial number of challenges, but it’s also been the source of tremendous potential growth in the tech realm. IT has become crucial to the way the world does business, and now is the time to capitalize on growth opportunities. To take advantage of these prospects, do everything possible to ensure that your company has the right structure in place to streamline your client onboarding processes. In this article, we’ll look at a few of the best practices to remotely onboard a client in IT.
Transitioning Versus Introducing Clients
Remote onboarding can refer either to transitioning a current client into a virtual working relationship or introducing a new customer to your services while fully remote. The end result is similar, but the starting points are slightly different.
If you have clients who you’re currently servicing with some level of on-prem assistance, the first thing you should do is outline everything they need. Sit down with your client representative and any technical experts who work with that customer, then list all of the interactions you have with them. Divide it into three columns: what you’re currently providing remotely, what in-person services can be converted to remote work immediately and areas where you’ll need to put in some effort to make a transition feasible.
Scan the first two columns for problem areas, then deep dive into the third. Create ways forward for every challenge, then thoroughly discuss each aspect from introducing the solution to the client to maintaining it after it’s been implemented. The last thing you want is to go to a client with a proposed solution, only for them to discover an obstacle you hadn’t considered. Once you’ve done this, schedule a client meeting to discuss the proposed solution and its benefits.
If you’re introducing a new client, complete the same process as listed above but do it for all of the services you offer. Create solutions that can be packaged and customized slightly, and offered to new clients. This will streamline your reaction time whenever a prospect requests a quote or project proposal. Consider how you’ll handle site visits and what you need from a client to make those happen. Don’t forget to use this as an opportunity to upsell services; clients might not know everything they need, and this is a perfect opportunity to expand what you’re offering.
Communication is critical in a virtual environment. All the casual conversations and observations that are included with in-person interactions are gone, and they should be replaced. Create a system that notifies your clients of upcoming service appointments, downtime, maintenance, end-of-life dates and subsequent transitions, upgrades, supply chain transparency reports and more. Email a recap once a service is complete. You should do all of this even if the client isn’t involved with the actions themselves; proactively letting your customers know everything you’re doing for them is crucial to maintaining those contracts.
Consider creating a newsletter, blog, or recurring email series that briefly summarizes trends, challenges, issues, and opportunities the client might need to be aware of. Invest in clients by demonstrating you're thinking of their needs in the bigger picture; this indicates that you're the person or company to hire because you're staying abreast of relevant trends and tracking tech issues for them. You want to create an image in their mind of all the ways you take care of them, and in a remote environment, this must be done intentionally; it won’t happen by accident.
You likely have a solid grasp of everything you need to complete your work remotely, but consider things from a client’s perspective. What kind of conferencing software will you need to interact with them? Do they have preferences or unique needs that would modify the recommendations you give them? How do their current solutions mesh with yours? If all of your formal interactions have occurred in person, you'll need to lock down an alternative with clients that everyone agrees on.
Think about project management tools, customer portals or microsites. Would it be beneficial to create a project dashboard that would keep your clients informed and updated about maintenance, upgrades and developmental issues? Are they currently working with a system you can piggyback on?
Performance tools are also essential. You have a set of internal metrics to oversee the contract from your perspective, but what does the client need to see? Creating a report with easy-to-read graphics, simplified data and common-sense information can go a long way toward helping customers see everything you’re doing for them.
The most prominent themes in onboarding remote clients are seeing things from their perspective and engaging in continual, proactive communication. If you know what they need and they see how you're fulfilling it, your client onboarding process will experience consistent success.
Moiz Bhinderwala leads the technical services and logistics teams at Dynamic. With more than 10 years of experience in the IT industry, Moiz has deep knowledge of the complex technological landscape, working closely with clients to understand their IT challenges and help design custom technical solutions to meet their business goals.