Client Onboarding Is Essential—Here's How MSPs Can Do it Right

JULY 18TH, 2019
Managed service providers depend on long, trusting relationships with their clients. Forging a lasting bond with customers begins the moment you come in contact with them, but the onboarding process in particular is critical. This is when you must prove to clients they chose the right provider. The onboarding process will differ from company to company, but generally, here are some elements you can include to assure your new clients that they made a fantastic choice by working with you.

Give a White Glove Welcome

If you’re bringing on new clients, you’ve already impressed their decision-makers, but first impressions matter for end users as well. On your first visit, be professional and friendly to everyone you meet. You might even consider bringing doughnuts or a gift basket as a welcome gift. Flourishes like these will ensure that decision-makers and end users have a positive opinion of you from the start.

Be Reachable but Manage Expectations

Part of onboarding is ensuring that clients understand your approach to support. Depending on your service agreements, you might have a block of time available to your clients for onsite projects, but you might have also included basic helpdesk requests as part of your monthly offering. Whatever the case is, be sure users know:
  • What level of support is included in your agreement
  • When they should contact you
  • How they should contact you
  • What constitutes an emergency and how they can contact you after hours

Many MSPs will offer cards, fliers, or even stickers on hardware with contact information to make it super simple for end users to contact them. This can be a great way to remind people that you’re available, but the approach will depend on your specific service contract.

Be Fanatical About Documentation


It’s tempting to skip documentation as you onboard a new client, but gathering detailed up-to-date information about software, equipment, workflows, and so on is a critical part of the process. If you want to help new clients understand their infrastructure and where you’ve made a positive impact, you need to document everything from when you start through to when you finish. Documentation is also a critical part of disaster recovery and business continuity planning. If you don’t have a clear list of systems and dependencies, how can you maintain redundancy? When it comes to documentation, you can’t be too thorough as you tally up every piece of a client’s IT infrastructure. And don’t forget that documentation is an ongoing process, so consider which events should trigger documentation updates.

Establish Communication and Reporting Schedules

As you bring on a client, it’s important to create a regular cadence of communications. Many MSPs will send weekly reports and have a monthly check-in call just to chat. Reporting metrics can vary, but some to include might be:
  • How many successful backups you took
  • How many hours of time your client used vs. how many are left
  • How many spam emails you filtered or quarantined
  • Any noteworthy events that happened (e.g. downtime)
  • Any noteworthy events that will happen soon (e.g. planned maintenance)
The important thing is to make sure you’re in regular contact with clients so you can develop trust, demonstrate your value, and act quickly if you need to make improvements or changes to the way you’re servicing an account. Plus, if you have new products and services you’d like to offer, it’s much easier to talk to them if the communication door is wide open.

Cementing Solid Partnerships

Be strategic about your onboarding process, and be ready to share your approach with prospects so they see the value in working with you. The onboarding process is an opportunity to prove that you’re an expert, you’re committed to service, and you aren’t just worth the price, you’re also worth referring to others. Remember that a solid onboarding process can be the difference between a lasting client relationship and one that ends too soon.