The client intake process can be a bore for users and a pain for the service-based business owner to create because there are a lot of moving parts -- gathering pertinent client information, handling the legal documentation, collecting payment, and scheduling the actual client calls.
Yet the upfront time spent creating your client intake workflow can set you apart from everyone else, while also being beautifully branded and making the process easy for your clients. Your clients will thank you, and you will love having all client information in one document.
Set the tone from the beginning
Before building your client intake form, make a list of all of the information you need to gather from potential clients. Depending on your type of business, you might need:
- client’s name and contact information
- event date, time, and location
- client’s website URL
- who referred them to you
- client’s expectations, struggles, or goals
Be sure to also consider anything that you will need from the client to begin your work with them. For example, you might want to create a contract for your client to sign, you might need to collect payment, and you might have pre-work for your client to do prior to your first meeting.
As soon as a client decides to hire you, be sure your initial email includes all vital information including:
- link to intake form
- a one-page FAQ or “what to know” info sheet
- a link to schedule their initial call/consult
You want to alleviate a long email exchange and get right down to business, but you also want to make it clear to your potential client as to how you run your business.
Can one intake form do all this? Absolutely.
Building a comprehensive client intake form
The goal for your intake form is to gather all pertinent information from your client in one form. But keep in mind that this is the first professional interaction your client will have with your brand, so you want to leave a good impression.
For an all-inclusive and easy-to-use intake process, I recommend Typeform Pro. You may be familiar with Typeform as a way to survey to your readers or create pretty questionnaires, but there is so much more to Typeform.
You can easily create fields to gather basic information like your client’s name, contact information, and URL, but there are other fields within Typeform that will allow you to do more to really flesh out your client intake process. Here are a few examples:
Legal information: Use the “Legal” field to add your contract to the intake form. You can make it “required,” which means your client will have to agree to the contract prior to proceeding with the remainder of the form.
Be sure to include a note that lets them know that by agreeing to the contract in this form, they are essentially signing the contract. You can also include a copy in the “Files” section of Typeform, which we’ll get to in a moment.
Payment: Connect your Typeform account with your Stripe account and easily collect payment on your intake form.
Typeform also has a feature allowing you to set different prices based on your client’s selection of your products or services, calculating the total amount due at the end. Clients will be able to securely enter their credit card information directly in the Typeform and Stripe handles the payment.
File upload: Easily provide your clients with a PDF of your legal information, as well as any pre-work or other important documentation right there in the intake form.
This is also a great opportunity for you to include a copy of your FAQ sheet. As solopreneurs working with clients, we tend to get asked the same questions repeatedly. Encouraging our clients to read the FAQs ahead of time will help alleviate some of these questions, freeing up more of your time to devote to the actual client work.
Thank you page: Typeform’s thank you page allows you to give clients further instructions or notice of what to expect next. You might want to let them know to expect an email that confirms your receipt of their intake form, or provide them with a link to a specific website that allows them to schedule their initial meeting with you.
Respondent notifications: After building and designing your intake form in Typeform, you will need to configure the respondent notifications. Essentially, this is the email each client will receive after completing their intake form. Typeform allows you to add specific responses to this email, which I use to create an email receipt of their payment. It looks something like this:
Hello 1 - [Your name:]
Thank you for your submission! I'll be in touch with you very shortly with the next steps based on the service package you have selected. If you have any questions or concerns in the meantime, don't hesitate to hit "reply" on this email. I'm happy to help, and appreciate your business!
For receipt purposes:
You signed up for the following service(s): [name of service package…]
For your records, you paid [price]
Thank you & have a nice day!
Typeform fills in the name, service package, and price based on the responses in the intake form.
You may also want to include links to your FAQ sheet and scheduling tool in this email as well, just in case your client skipped over the thank you page in your Typeform.
Building a helpful FAQ document
As I mentioned earlier, an FAQ sheet is a great resource for your clients and helps you alleviate the back-and-forth email exchange that tends to happen. It’s also a great way for you to set expectations and guidelines for your client interaction. In addition to the questions you frequently get asked, consider including:
- Your work hours: Let clients know upfront that you will only be available via email/phone during specific office hours. If they contact you outside of these office hours, let them know the average time it takes for you to get back to them.
- Your email policy: Be very clear about how many emails are included in their service package with you. Advise them to send one comprehensive email each week, rather than a series of short emails throughout the week.
- How meetings take place: If you meet with clients via Skype, Google Hangouts, or over the phone, let them know this upfront and provide a bit of direction in case they aren’t familiar with the platform you use.
- Reminder of pre-work: If you provided any pre-work, remind your client that this needs to be done prior to your first meeting.
If the work you are doing for this client is dependent upon the client completing certain tasks, be sure to mention that, as well. For example, if you are designing a website and need images from the client of their products, be sure to let them know that you can only complete your work on time if they follow through with specific tasks based on the timeline of your project.
Streamlining your scheduling
If your client work involves working 1:1 with the client in a meeting, whether that’s online, over the phone, or in person, you will need to provide a way for your client to schedule their time with you.
Calendly is a simple scheduling tool that syncs with your Google, Office 365, or Outlook calendar. Create one type of event for each of your service plans and allow clients to book based on your availability. They can select which date and time works best for them, and the event is added to your calendar. You will be notified of this event when the client schedules with you.
Acuity Scheduling is another powerful scheduling tool that operates in a similar way as Calendly, allowing you to sync your calendar and create multiple types of events. Acuity, however, also allows you to accept payment from clients. This might come in handy if you accept a deposit via Typeform, and need to collect payments each time your client books another event with you.
Acuity also integrates with email service providers like ConvertKit and MailChimp, dropping your clients into your email list automatically, and allows you to schedule group events like webinars or workshops. If you use Quickbooks or Freshbooks for business accounting, payments received through Acuity can be automatically added to your ledger.
What a streamlined client intake process gives you
Eliminate the back and forth, so you have less headaches. Streamline the intake process, so your client knows exactly what to expect. Despite it taking more time to set up, it’s a win-win that you won’t believe you lived without before, service-based biz owner.
Now that your client intake process is streamlined, you have more time to actually work with clients, helping your business continue to grow.
We are affiliates for a few of the services mentioned above. As always, we only promote products and services we truly believe can benefit your business.
Latest posts by Kirsten Thompson (see all)
- How to Create an Impressive (& Functional) Client Intake Process - August 22, 2016