4 Hidden Costs of Client Onboarding

by Staff Writer

The way your company kicks off relationships with new customers is about a lot more than creating goodwill. When common problems go unresolved, the client onboarding process can cost your company revenue and reputation. Done properly, on the other hand, onboarding can have a significant positive impact on your bottom line.


A woman presents to three business people in a conference room.

Common Causes of Over-Budget Onboarding

First, the bad news: A study commissioned by Smartsheet found that onboarding often costs more than anticipated. Here are four factors that can lead to over-budget onboarding that can leave your customers — and your teams — unhappy.

1. Structure: One of the most common causes of onboarding running over budget is a lack of structured processes. Without structure, inefficiencies, errors, and redundancies are almost certain to increase. A lack of structured processes also keeps teams stuck in reactive mode as they struggle to stay on top of each new client onboarding.


Text graphic reads: "70% of onboarding projects are not completed on time."

2. Manual Processes: On a related note, relying on manual processes is another top reason that onboarding can blow the budget. Manual work takes more time, is more prone to errors, and offers zero visibility, which keeps almost everyone in the dark. Customers can’t see the status of their onboarding, which can erode trust and put teams in reactive mode.


Text graphic reads: "25% of each week is spent manually updating various project tools."

3. Poor Communication: When teams across a company such as sales and marketing, customer support and service, finance, legal, and others, don’t communicate effectively, client onboarding often runs over budget and off schedule as a result.


Text graphic reads: "Poor communication negatively impacts 1 in 4 new client onboarding efforts.

4. The Wrong Technology: Rounding out the top four causes of over-budget onboarding is disconnected tools. When tools are disconnected from one another, there is zero visibility into the work being performed. That means there’s no visibility into how to solve problems before they spiral out of control.


Text graphic reads: "Over 80% of participants report being concerned when customers raise status questions."

Good News: Getting Onboarding Right

When onboarding is done in a way that meets or exceeds expectations, it increases more than customer satisfaction. According to recent research by McKinsey & Company, in fact, every one-point increase in customer onboarding satisfaction on a 10-point Net Promoter Score (NPS) scale resulted in a 3 percent increase in customer revenue.

Depending on the size of your enterprise, the fiscal implications of this can add up quickly. If a company onboarded $500 million worth of new customers last year and improved its onboarding satisfaction score from a five to a six, that would equate to an additional $15 million per year. A five- to eight-point improvement would translate to an additional $45 million per year!

Do You Want to Improve?

How effective is your organization at client onboarding? If you’re like most companies, there’s room for improvement. To learn more about how Smartsheet can help you achieve that improvement, download “The Hidden Costs of Client Onboarding” ebook to learn how to avoid the top risk factors in customer onboarding.