Part 4: 7 Things I Include In My Client Offboarding Process
I am Jess! Ottawa brand strategist and website designer helping passionate service-based businesses grow with confidence through meaningful design. I'm the type of gal that use one too many exclamation mark in my emails and can only have one cup of coffee a day. Weird, I know. If you ever want to chat any thing biz, branding, or well - life, feel free to reach out!
Over the last few weeks, we went over how important it is to have an onboarding and offboarding process for your client experience. We also touched on what items and exact steps to include in an onboarding process… but what should be included in a client offboarding process aside from a thank you and goodbye?
While there is a fair lot of hype surrounding the onboarding process, your client offboarding process should be just as good and comprehensive as the onboarding. Even though your time together with your client is coming to an end (for now), it is our job, as service providers, to make the transition as smooth as possible. It also serves as a way to let them know that it is time for them to take full ownership of the final files. However, the most question to answer in an offboarding process is: What happens next?
I, for one, am very much invested in my clients and their success so there is nothing more than making sure they feel empowered by the work that we have done together. To inspire you to build your own client offboarding process, here is a sneak peek as to what I include.
Invoice & Final Files
This one is a no-brainer and should come as no shock. With my clients, I issue the invoice and request the final payment about 1 week prior to our project end date. This gives my client a heads up that our time is coming to an end fairly soon and that they will be receiving their files soon. Personally, I always make sure I receive the final payment before sending over the final files just to prevent late payments or worse, not being paid. My payment structure is usually a split between 50/50 or 30/40/30 depending on the project scope and my clients’ needs.
With the delivery of the final files, I compress all documents and files that we have worked on together during the project and send them via Dropbox. Other popular recommendations, depending on your preference, are Google Drive or WeTransfer. This would also be a great time to overdeliver just a teeny bit and stand out in the best kinda way possible!
Client Success Guide
Similar to a “Welcome Guide”, a “Client Success Guide” is a great offboarding resource to deliver to your clients towards the end of your time together. For my business, I compile all of the information I want them to know and include it as a PDF in the final files for them to download.
Here are some items I include with the guide:
Scope of Work
Next Steps & Reminders (i.e. download their files, update their passwords)
A La Carte Menu For Future Collaborations
Client Referral Program
Sincere Thank You (Which you can also include in a handwritten card!)
The main goal is to reaffirm all that you have accomplished together and to let them know there are lots of opportunities in the future that they can reach out again.
Feedback is something I strive to request from each and every single one of my clients because it helps me continuously improve my processes. I take every piece of constructive feedback to heart and use them to take a deeper look at my business every quarter.
I like to set-up my “client feedback” form on my website on a hidden page so that my client can easily access and fill out the form prior to our wrap-up call. I have the answers going to a spreadsheet so that all of my responses are populated there for better analysis. If you prefer to use a third-party platform, Typeform or Google Forms are fantastic alternatives that are free. If you have a CRM, such as Dubsado, that works too!
Some of the questions I like to include in my form are:
What did you enjoy most about your experience?
How did you find your experience working with the platforms during our time together? (Asana, Voxer, etc.)
How do you expect your new <service> to change your business?
Is there anything you feel could have been done to improve our time together?
With this feedback, I can now use this to better improve my processes!
As we all know, testimonials can help future clients make informed decisions about our service as a business owner and give a glimpse of what it was like working with you. Usually, when a client is satisfied working with you, they shouldn’t have an issue with leaving you a testimonial. With that said, I definitely suggest making it as easy as it is for them, which is why I like to include it in our offboarding process rather than send an email after our time has ended.
Depending on what platforms you are on and where your ideal clients find you, I would suggest selecting the top 1-2 platforms you would want your client to fill out. What I usually tell them in advance is that since these are user-based platforms, it would be the easiest if they were to write their testimonial and copy & paste it across. The two I like to focus on the most are Google Reviews and Facebook.
Another route, if you don’t want them to be copying and pasting their testimonials on different platforms, is to get their feedback through a form! In this instance, examples of leading questions you can ask are:
How did you feel about <service> before working with me? How do you feel now?
Why did you specifically want to work with me?
What has exceeded your expectations working with us?
What compliments or results do you expect to see now that you have finished <service>?
Would you recommend our services to others? Why/Why not?
Although this won’t show up on different platforms, you may be able to build a more detailed and structured “testimonial” to use on your website, social media, and other collateral.
Let me say it a little be louder for those in the back… ending the project with an email is NOT enough! Taking the time to properly say goodbye face-to-face can elevate your offboarding experience tremendously.
I like to host a 30-minute wrap-up call with my clients to answer any outstanding questions they might have, run through any platform questions, as well as to chat next steps. Again, being someone very much involved in my clients’ success, I want them to know that I am there cheering them on even after our time is over together. In addition, it also gives us a chance to chat about any answers from their feedback form, as well as launch plan and strategy – which is something I am very much excited and passionate about!
Depending on your services, there is a high chance that you will be sharing the success and work that you have done for your client on social media. Strategically, it would be smart for you and your client to craft a plan to celebrate that launch together. In today’s digital world, it’s important to have a content strategy and warm your audience up that something *big* is coming soon.
As a designer, I try to line up my “brand/website reveals” alongside my clients – I think of it as our virtual launch party! It also serves as a strategic way to get more eyeballs on your client’s profile or website on the day of. As a bonus, I send my clients launch graphics to include with their content planner so that it’s already done for them. These little details count and are something clients appreciate so much.
This last step is a little bit further out in the offboarding process but is one I have included to keep my services and brand top of mind for my clients even after our time together is over. I make an effort to follow up with my clients 6 months afterward to see where they are at with their business in terms of growth, as well as to check in to see if there is anything else that I might be able to help them with. The best type of clients are retainers and/or referrals so this is a really wonderful way to stay in touch and check in!
I hope this mini-series on client experience was helpful to you! It is an integral part of the business that no business owner should look over and it is definitely worth spending some time and energy to build. Remember, no process is ever perfect and that it should be constantly evaluated, monitored, and improved. As your business grows, your client experience does too!