Client Onboarding – An Aspect of Client Service That Needs Improving? (2 of 3)

In our first article we explored the importance of client onboarding (CO) and in particular the importance of the various initial communications sent to your new client.

Missed the first article? You will find this here

Here we continue to look at a wide range of CO actions, including thanking any referral source, your new client follow up contact, important questions you might like to ask and a quick look at one aspect of pricing. 


During your discussions with your new client you may learn how your new client found you – was this from a referral source? A professional? Client? Be sure to speak to your referral source and thank them for their introduction.


  • Is it appropriate to meet them for breakfast or lunch?
  • Is there a client you can refer them to?

Key Point: Remember that when you first start acting for a new client you are in a ‘honeymoon period.’ This is when they think you are wonderful and may well wish to recommend you to others.

Key Point: One director of a UK management company reported receiving over 10,000 completed surveys from accounting firm clients. The results? He informs me that:

– 92% of accounting firm clients are happy to recommend their accountant, BUT only
– 95% of clients report never having been asked for a referral.

I find this surprising, but then on the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t. We are all happy to recommend a good restaurant, film (seen Top Gun: Maverick yet? Great film, or even a play – why not an accountant? My view is that it is not unprofessional to ask for a referral. Sure, you must find the right time to make the ask and the question probably needs to be phrased in a kindly ‘would you be able to, or mind referring us?’. I would probably ask it like this, “If you know anyone who would like a good accountant, do please kindly recommend me.” Better still make sure you leave with their name and contact details.

Key Point: Make sure your client is clear regarding deadlines and penalties. They need to be clear that they have responsibilities to deliver records to you on a timely basis. That also applies to responding to your requests for further information.

Key Goal: In this ever-changing world of compliance demands and deadlines everyone needs to do what it takes to speed up our work and to make it as efficient as possible. To emphasise this, you need to incentivise clients to ensure you have all you need. For example, you might say, “You need to upload these documents within 3 business days.” In other words, give a specific timeframe rather than an indefinite period. Make sure they understand that if they miss the deadlines you’ve set, they will incur additional fees due to rushed work, or their project start date will be required to be pushed back. This provides a carrot to encourage them to act. The point here is that you want to be clear that there is a time sensitive nature to receiving the documents you need.

Key Point: Do ALL you can to eliminate engagement time lag.


Hands up, I am going to make a confession. This is not something I generally did when managing my own accountancy business, but should have done.

How often do you make contact with your new clients? OK, maybe I should ask, do you make contact with your clients? But this is about CO so let’s stay with that group of new clients. Whether this is a client new to business or transferring from another service provider what are your plans for keeping in touch with the client? You have a combination of options, including:

  • Phone
  • Text
  • Skype, Teams, Zoom, and other similar client contact options 
  • Personal meeting to follow up a discussion that is in ongoing with you.

Some options:

  • Do you know what your client success goals are? There may be an opportunity to advise the client outside of any your compliance service.
  • Is there any training session to be held between your team and the clients?
  • Are there any Apps that can help your client?
  • Are you planning to follow your client on social media?
  • Has your client agreed to receive your newsletters?


  • What is the current state of the clients accounting records? 
  • Do they balance their key control accounts such as bank, sales, purchases, payroll and so on? How much preliminary accounting work might you have to perform? This I refer to as ‘client caused extras’.
  • Is the client staying with their existing software or is a change recommended?
  • Can you gain access to their online records to make an assessment on these matters?
  • During CO are you clear regarding the scope of your work? Remember that the majority of ‘adjustments’ to time records are in the form of write downs rather than write ups.

Key Point: Having a really great CO plan is an important key to firm growth.


Pricing transparency. Some firms now offer set pricing. This is sometimes based on a level of service required – e.g., bronze, silver gold. Other times it is based on the number of transactions.

Key Point: Always make it clear what clients are paying for and what costs will arise if the service demands change. 

In our next and final article, we will take a deep dive into the use of technology in the entire CO process. See you next time.

Questions, comments – do email me –


Mark Lloydbottom