How to Provide Value & Set Expectations Through Client Onboarding

Setting expectations is a key component to developing good client relationships. The more you can help clients understand what to expect while working with your firm, the better chance you have of being on the same page with them throughout the relationship and delivering an exceptional client experience. Yes, I said exceptional! A great opportunity to set expectations is during the client onboarding process.

What is a client onboarding process you may be asking yourself? If this sounds like a foreign concept to you, you’re not alone. Client onboarding isn’t something we’ve heard discussed much within the legal profession. But we’re trying to change that!

Why? Think back to the last time you purchased a more expensive service, something in the range of what it would cost legal consumers to hire you. Did you purchase the service and then just show up or use the service without any introduction to the company? Or instead did the company welcome you, provide you with information on how to make the most of the service and relationship, and generally make you feel valued? Chances are it was the latter, and that’s what we want to replicate in our firms.

Start with value

How do we create a client onboarding process that provides an exceptional client experience? You start with value. What does your target market value? Chances are it’s things like convenience, transparency, peace of mind, and saving time.

Visualize the process

Okay, now that you have value front of mind, put yourself in your target client’s shoes and visualize what a convenient and transparent onboarding process that provided you with peace of mind. Let’s break it down value by value.

Convenience: Clients are busy people too and they don’t want to have to dig through prior emails or scour your website to find basic information about your firm and relationship, such as who else they might be working with, does your firm have free parking, how to schedule a meeting with you, how to pay you, etc. You can provide convenience to your client by having all of this information in one easily accessible spot.

Transparency: For many legal consumers, this is going to be their first time working with a lawyer. They likely have no idea how the legal process works. For example, what does going to court actually mean? Is court a physical place? Is it on Zoom? Somewhere else? What should they wear, and do they even need to go?

Peace of mind: For most clients, hiring a lawyer to help them resolve their legal issues is stressful and expensive. Are their ways you can provide them with some peace of mind that they have hired a competent lawyer who has their best interests in mind?

Tools you can use

Now that your creative juices are flowing, let’s talk about the tools you can use to bring your new onboarding process to life. Here are two popular options:

Welcome packets: Create an electronic (or tangible depending on your target market) welcome packet that you can give to new clients after they sign your engagement agreement. In this packet, include information that will provide them with value and help them acclimate to your firm and the legal process they are about to engage in. Consider recording a welcome video and including it in the same email in which you share this welcome packet. As always, the more value you can provide the better!

Client portals: Same concept as above except the delivery method is an online portal. Many case management software products include a client portal.

Don’t stop here!

Now that you’ve onboarded the client, don’t stop providing value! Keep it rolling. You can continue offering value through transparency by keeping the client abreast of updates and where the client is in the process at all times. Visual graphics, such as timelines, are helpful here. You can continue providing convenience by always including a link to payment or where you keep your welcome packet on invoices or at the bottom of firm communications. And you can continue to offer peace of mind but making sure you touch base with the client at least once a month either through email, a video message, or a phone call.

Don’t overthink this. Start small and add on to your onboarding and subsequent processes as you learn more about your target clients and what they value. Ready, go!