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How to Onboard Clients: A Step by Step Guide

Published on January 11, 2022 • Updated on January 12, 2024 • About 10 min. read

Read this guide on customer onboarding and get tips to prevent churn.

raising a hand to ask a question

The first few weeks after a client signs on are crucial. They’re trying to learn the ropes and work out how you can help them achieve their goals. When done right, onboarding helps set the tone for the entire relationship.

It’s an opportunity to show your clients that you care about their success and are invested in helping them get the most out of your product. So, how to do it?

We spoke with Chadhlia Mazouz, Customer Success Manager (CSM) at Livestorm, to get her insights on what makes a successful onboarding process, what a defined workflow looks like, and how to troubleshoot challenges along the way.


Onboard your customers with this in-depth guide, and turn them into product champions.

What is client onboarding?

"Client onboarding is a phase of a customer lifecycle," says Chadhlia Mazouz, CSM at Livestorm. "As soon as a prospect becomes a paying customer, the client onboarding process begins."

The process usually involves sharing educational materials, scheduling check-in calls and assigning a success manager. In other words, client onboarding is everything that happens between signing the contract and achieving the objectives you agreed upon with the client.

It’s an ongoing process that helps you build customer relationships and should continue throughout the customer lifecycle.

Customer success manager using client onboarding software

The two main challenges of onboarding new clients

Although the onboarding process will vary for every business depending on their industry, offering, and clientele, there are two primary onboarding challenges that every business faces:

  1. Chasing busy clients
  2. Closing a steep learning curve

1. Chasing busy clients

Large companies with lots of decision-makers may become difficult to contact if something unexpected happens, like if a stakeholder leaves the organization without a replacement or if there’s a lapse in communication between teams.

Automating parts of your onboarding process can help you keep in touch with busy clients and strike the balance between consistency and pushiness. For example, if you use online meeting software like Livestorm, you can integrate with call-scheduling platforms like Calendly to set up calls. You can also set email cadences for automatic reminders, so no meetings get missed.

2. Closing a steep learning curve

Your clients start from zero when it comes to understanding your product or service and how to use it effectively. That's where you come in. "They need to see the immediate value of what you're offering them," says Chadhlia. "Your job is to make it as easy as possible for the client to understand your product.”

The best way to do that is to use a video engagement platform that allows you to share your screen to walk your client through your product. You can use Livestorm to host interactive training sessions or deminars that can be automatically recorded and repurposed as on-demand content.


Onboard your customers with this in-depth guide, and turn them into product champions.

Benefits of having a client onboarding workflow

"When you have a defined workflow, it becomes much easier for the client to understand what's going on," explains Chadhlia. "They know what to expect and when to expect it." When you refine your client onboarding workflow, you’ll experience a few benefits:

  1. It’s easier to set expectations
  2. You’ll save time and resources
  3. You can gather feedback as you go

1. It’s easier to set expectations

"You want to set and manage expectations from the get-go so clients know what they're signing up for," says Chadhlia. If they know exactly what to expect from you (and vice versa) it’s much easier to keep your onboarding on schedule. Plus, your client is less likely to feel lost or end up churning, especially if you assign them a dedicated CSM to guide them through the process.

2. You’ll save time and resources

"When you're handling multiple clients, it can be difficult to remember where everyone is in their journey," explains Chadhlia. It’s easier to manage multiple clients at once if you set up email triggers and automated email sequences with personalized content. To do this, you need a good customer relationship management (CRM) tool, like HubSpot or Marketo, that integrates with your video conferencing platform so you can send automatic email reminders about onboarding meetings.

Livestorm’s customizable email cadences automating the client onboarding process

3. You can gather feedback as you go

"You need to constantly gather feedback to see what's working and what's not," says Chadhlia. Without feedback, you won’t know if the client is happy or if they’re getting value from your product. But with it, you can improve your onboarding process and create a community of advocates for your brand.

You could send a survey, but you’ll spend the rest of your career chasing responses. Instead, try using engagement features during your virtual training sessions and check-in meetings. For example, Livestorm has built-in polls and emoji reactions to help you gauge real-time feedback in a quick, creative way.

Livestorm engagement features for client onboarding strategy

How to effectively onboard clients

The client onboarding process looks different for every company. It depends on the product, the industry, the sales cycle, and the number of stakeholders involved. But there are a few key steps that are essential for every client onboarding process:

  1. Send the welcome email
  2. Sent the onboarding questionnaire
  3. Schedule the kick-off call
  4. Host live training sessions
  5. Shadow the client’s first project

Step one: Send the welcome email

The welcome email is an opportunity to make a good first impression and set the tone for your relationship. There are two sides to a good welcome email: sending information about your product and services and gathering information about the client's needs. Be sure to include a brief overview of your product, links to helpful resources, and contact information for the customer success manager.

Step two: Send the onboarding questionnaire

Whether you include it in your welcome email or schedule it to send later, the onboarding questionnaire helps you to understand the client’s specific needs and objectives. Here’s what you should find out:

  • Your primary and secondary point of contact
  • The team members involved in the project and their respective roles
  • The client’s objectives, how they intend to use your product, and what their measure of success is
  • Who their competitors are, what they admire about them, and how they want to surpass them
  • Budget, key dates, and other deliverables

Step three: Schedule the kickoff call

"A kick-off call lasts for half an hour to an hour and usually involves the success manager and the project manager," explains Chadhlia. This is your opportunity to review the information from their questionnaire, define their preferred communication methods, and agree on timelines for the onboarding. You can use this time to find out exactly what the client is looking for and show them how you plan to meet their needs. "You need to nurture that relationship," adds Chadhlia.

Step four: Host live training sessions

Customer education is critical to onboarding success, so it’s important to host live training sessions that give your client an opportunity to interact with the product and ask questions. "We host our client training on Livestorm," explains Chadhlia. "We involve them as participants by using our engagement features."

For example, you can use Livestorm’s Q&A tab and question upvoting features to make sure important questions get answered during the session. The detailed analytics dashboard will also track event attendance and engagement, so you can identify areas of improvement for future training calls.

Step five: Shadowing the client's first project

Once the client is up and running, it's time to step back and let them take the lead. "We like to do what we call 'shadowing,' where we help them set up or troubleshoot any customer success problems they might have," says Chadhlia. "They get hands-on experience with the product, and we can help them if they need it."

With Livestorm's screen sharing feature, clients can easily show you what they're working on and where they're getting stuck. Shadowing builds trust and demonstrates your commitment to the success of their project. Plus, it gives you a chance to provide feedback on their processes and offer suggestions on how they can improve.

Client onboarding examples

Your customer training strategy and onboarding process depend entirely on what product or service you offer as well as the size and needs of your client base. But here are a couple of client onboarding examples to give you ideas.

HubSpot: Uses surveys to personalize user onboarding

Users who opt for HubSpot's paid plans receive a personalized onboarding sequence. Whereas users who opt for the free plan receive generic welcome emails.

HubSpot’s client onboarding walkthrough

Here's how HubSpot's onboarding process works:

Step one: Users receive a welcome email with a link to a survey

After signing up for HubSpot, users receive a welcome email with a link to a survey. The survey asks questions about their business goals and how they plan to use HubSpot.

Step two: Based on the survey results, users are segmented into different groups

Based on the survey results, users are segmented into different groups and receive targeted content, including email courses, blog posts, and webinars.

Step three: Users are given an in-app onboarding sequence

Once users create their account, they're given a tooltip tour highlighting the essential features and explaining how to use them with a short copy, emojis, and GIFs.

Step four: Users are given incentives to share feedback

HubSpot's CRM team encourages customers to stay active in the app by indicating the value they'll gain, in turn sharing feedback like insights on the most productive team member or visualizing progress over time.

Livestorm: Onboards clients with interactive live training

At Livestorm, we use our own platform to help onboard new clients because we know how important it is to keep clients engaged with the process. Livestorm helps us host interactive training sessions and automates vital communication like email invitations and reminders.

Step one: Kick-off call with the client

The kick-off call involves a handover from the account executive team (responsible for arranging terms in the contract, upselling, and billing) to the customer success team (responsible for relationship building).

Step two: Scoping method for bigger clients

When there are bigger teams with multiple stakeholders, we use a 'scoping' method which is an in-depth meeting to understand the client’s internal processes, how they want to use Livestorm, and their timeline.

Step three: Hosting live training for the client

Usually, we host at least one training session when prospects become customers, and the recording is made available as on-demand content.

Step four: Check-in before first use

The CSM hosts a 30 min call to check in with the client before they host their first event or meeting. They’ll guide the client through the setup process and answer any questions they might have about the platform settings.

Step five: Rehearsal call with all potential speakers

When customers invite speakers who will use Livestorm for the first time or are uncomfortable with hosting an event in front of a large audience, our CSM team offers to do a rehearsal call.

Step six: Shadowing the first event

Our CSM team shadows the client's first event and is available on standby to ensure everything goes smoothly. The team collects feedback after the event to identify areas of improvement in the process.

Best onboarding software to improve client relationships

As your business grows, you’ll need to scale your onboarding process. A customer onboarding platform can help you automate and streamline key tasks and track client progress. Here's a look at some of the best client onboarding software on the market.

Best video onboarding software: Livestorm

Livestorm is a browser-based video conferencing software that allows you to host live training sessions, client onboarding, and product demos. Livestorm integrates with over 1,000 apps, so you can easily add it to your existing workflow. Engagement features like polls, chat, Q&A, and media sharing keep your attendees engaged during the call.

Plus, you can create pre-recorded videos for your client to watch asynchronously. "This way, if people can't make it or want to go back and review what was covered, they have a recording they can reference," says Chadhlia.

Team hosting a live client onboarding session on Livestorm

Best onboarding platform: Inline Manual

Inline Manual is a user onboarding tool that enhances user experience through product tours, videos, and tutorials. Features like product walkthroughs, hotspots, tooltips, feedback-gathering tools, and widgets make it a complete digital adoption platform.

Inline Manual automated workflow for client onboarding

Best product tour software: Nickelled

Nickelled is a simple software that lets you create product tours. The interactive guides include customized tooltips, text bubbles, and dialog boxes that nudge users in the right direction. Analytics like user interaction with your walkthroughs, completion percentages, views, and satisfaction scores help you track your success.

User interaction analytics of your client onboarding process

Best user testing tool: Maze

Maze is an online useability testing tool that uses clickable prototypes to test the user experience. It allows you to test on real devices to get an accurate picture of how users interact with your product. You can also use Maze to test your customer onboarding process and identify areas that need improvement. Features like task analysis, heatmaps, and session recordings help you understand your results.

Maze user testing screen

Enhance your client onboarding strategy with the right tools

The key to client onboarding success is to focus on your clients' needs. You can build strong relationships that last by understanding their goals and providing them with the resources they need to see the value in your products and services.

Using the right tools can also help you streamline your process and provide a great experience for your clients. Livestorm's live engagement features and automatic recording make it a great choice for hosting live or pre-recorded training sessions. Automation features like email-triggered workflows and integrations with over 1,000 apps also help you save time and improve efficiency during the onboarding process.

Frequently asked questions about client onboarding

What is a client onboarding checklist?

A client onboarding checklist is a list of items that need to be completed to successfully onboard a new client. This can include scheduling a kickoff meeting, sending out welcome materials, setting up access to your systems, and training the client on how to use your products or services.

What are the first steps in the client onboarding workflow?

The first steps in the client onboarding workflow are to send a welcome mail, schedule a kickoff meeting, send the client onboarding questionnaire, host live training sessions, and shadow your client's first project.

What is the importance of client onboarding?

Client onboarding is important as it ensures your clients have a positive experience with your company. A successful client onboarding process will help build trust and loyalty, leading to long-term relationships.

What are the questions to ask when onboarding a new client?

The questions you should ask when onboarding a new client depends on the type of business you are in. However, some general questions can include:

  • What are the client's business goals?
  • How will the client be using your product or service?
  • Who will be using your product or service on a day-to-day basis?
  • What is the timeline for implementation?