The onboarding process for any type of business is a truly important one to carefully consider and refine. But what about for a translation or interpreting professional? The first impression you give a potential client is ultimately one of the main reasons people will choose to work with you or not. So, making sure that your onboarding process is well thought out can help clients remember you for your professionalism. Onboarding clients well is an great way to show that you have a real process and plan in place, which can reassure customers that they were right to reach out to you in the first place.
If you're like me and you have found that most of your clients have come to you by way of referrals, then this process is one that you can improve time and again when onboarding new clients. Here are my top three tips on how to onboard new translation or interpreting clients in your business.
Tip #1: Let your client know what it's like to work with you from the very beginning.
As professionals who tend to work mostly online with our clients in this digital age, it is even more important than ever to start with a great first impression. Once you know who your ideal client is, you can tailor the experience to fit those you'd like to work with, those you want to attract as clients. You could also think of this as a way to weed out those who would not make ideal clients.
To read more about how to appeal to ideal clients, check out How to Determine and Attract Your Ideal Client.
Think of your onboarding experience as a storefront window. A lot of clients are interested, but they don't necessarily know exactly what they need. This is your time to shine. To show your expertise. To let your clients know what it will be like to work with you. When they ask you for a quote, give them a little more information with the quote. This allows you to focus less on a number (the quote) and more on yourself as the expert they need.
Include with your quote, what the client can expect from you with regard to questions you will need them to answer about the assignment(s) they send you. Fill them in on your working hours and how you prefer to be contacted (and ask how they like to be contacted, too). Include a questionnaire or preliminary questions you may have about their inquiry. Be creative and tailor this introduction to reflect your business and personality.
Tip #2: Create templates!
When you have a real process in place, you can truly utilize the power of well designed and well written templates. If you plan to respond to potential clients with an email, take some time to create several templates that outline everything in Tip #1.
To read more about creating email templates, check out How to Create Email Templates to Implement in Your T&I Business and Save Time.
If you prefer to have a face-to-face conversation, provide a response with a link to your calendar/schedule so that the client can choose a time to discuss their needs with you on a virtual call or over the phone. While this approach may seem more time consuming than shooting off an email, it is very effective in landing clients for service-based businesses. Give it a try!
Tip #3: Build a sales funnel.
This may sound daunting, but it truly doesn't have to be. Outline how you plan to talk to new clients from the time of inquiry until the time you deliver a project (and after). If you have a wait list or a delay in the time an inquiry comes in and the time you are able to start working on a client's project, make them aware of this right away. But make sure you show them why you're worth waiting for!
During the onboarding process, it is vital to discover a client's pain points, i.e. problems or challenges. Explain how you can help solve these problems with the service(s) you provide. Make your value proposition very clear so that the client is not riddled with more questions than when they reached out to you. Ideally, your sales funnel should always have a "next step", i.e. a follow-up of some sort so that you continue to be in touch with the client. This is something you'll make better over time, as you never want to come across as spammy or salesy, but you do want to come across as the perfect addition to their collaborative team.
Lastly, don't drop the ball after you deliver a service. Follow up with your client after delivery with a handwritten or typed (and signed by hand!) letter to let them know you value their business and look forward to working with them in the future. You might even do something extra, something unexpected. Again, the point is to set yourself apart from the rest. You could include an elegant bookmark, a gift card to a coffee shop in your client's local area or another fun surprise that leaves a lasting impression in addition to your outstanding work and service.
The client onboarding process should never be overlooked. It's how you give that meaningful first impression to a client. Again, this process can and should be refined over time. It can change. You will want to keep looking at what worked and what didn't, what you can do better or differently. For ideas on how you might be successful in onboarding new clients, take a look at how key professionals in other industries tend to do it. Or consider your most memorable experiences as a customer. What made you feel valued? What made you return? Take those ideas and start a list. Now, you have something to work with and you can customize it to fit your business, your personality, and most importantly, your clients.