Unlocking the Secrets to Creating Amazing Client Offboarding Experiences


How do you leave a lasting positive impression even after the project ends? In the OBM world, it is not just about securing contracts, it’s about maintaining positive relationships even after the business transaction has ended.

Let’s delve deep into the crucial aspect of the client experience – offboarding. Even in cases where the contract ended on rocky terms, or it didn’t progress as far as expected, leaving a positive note is pivotal as you never know what lies beyond.

This episode shares:

  • Figuring out and sharing your offboarding game plan
  • Handling the nitty-gritty – account access, handover calls, and the data cleanup
  • Asking for testimonials and referrals during offboarding
  • Keeping the client relationship alive and kicking after offboarding

Building a High-Level Offboarding Process

“Goodbye is never goodbye.

So we are talking about the breakup and we want it to be good right till the very end.”

The concept of an amazing client journey doesn’t stop at onboarding and delivery—it extends all the way to the final stages. Offboarding, the last step of the client experience, is a critical phase that many businesses overlook, which can result in missed opportunities and a tarnished reputation. It’s time to flip the script and see how a thoughtfully executed offboarding process can foster lasting relationships and even future business.

The foundation of a successful offboarding experience lies in having a clear, organised process. Understanding the practical steps to follow can help you create a structured journey for your client. Consider what needs to happen and when, including removing access to client accounts, scheduling offboarding or handover calls, and deleting any of your client’s assets from your system.

Tip: 💡Set up reminders or automated emails to ensure you communicate these processes at the right times.


Effective Communication the Key to a Smooth Offboarding

Once your process is mapped out, it’s crucial to start communicating with your client about the offboarding journey. The timeline of this communication depends on your specific context. If the end of a contract is approaching, you might want to start discussing the next steps.

The goal here is to create a structured communication plan around your offboarding process. Be specific about what needs to happen, when it needs to happen, and what part the client plays in it. This prevents any potential misunderstandings and ensures that both parties are on the same page.

Action: 💡 Create a clear and comprehensive offboarding email template. This should detail each step of the process and what’s required from the client. Remember to tailor this communication to the specific client and project for best results.

Pay Attention to the Client’s Needs

An excellent offboarding process not only caters to your needs but also pays special attention to the client’s. Ask your clients what they require from you before the partnership concludes. This step ensures no loose ends are left untied and enhances the client’s overall experience.

Tip: 💡Include a final check-in in your offboarding process where you explicitly ask the client if there’s anything else they need. This could be related to passwords, account access, or other project details.

Safe Handling of Data and Access

Dealing with access to accounts and data management can be a sensitive area during offboarding. It’s crucial to establish a clear process for removing access and deleting data. Ensure you communicate these steps to your client so they can be prepared for any necessary actions on their part.

Let your clients know your data storage protocols. For example, inform them about how long you keep their assets and when you’ll delete them from your servers. This step not only maintains transparency but also protects both parties in the case of data loss.

Action: 🎯Create a data management checklist that includes all the assets and accounts that you need to manage during the offboarding process.

Testimonials and Referrals

Offboarding provides an excellent opportunity to gather testimonials and ask for referrals. Build it into your process so it feels natural and less awkward. It’s a simple way to show appreciation for the collaboration and solicit feedback that could benefit your business in the future.

Before asking for a testimonial, ensure you have your client’s consent on how you plan to use their testimonial – whether you want to use their name, photo, or if it would be anonymous. Similarly, asking for referrals can open doors to potential clients who may be in need of your services.

Tip: 💡Make the testimonial process easier for your clients by providing a simple format or guiding questions to help them share their feedback.

Continued Contact and Relationship Management

Offboarding is not the end of the relationship with your client. Make a point to keep in touch, ask them how they’re doing, and maintain a professional yet cordial relationship. Remember, we are all human beings and a little touch of humanity goes a long way in business relationships.

“Make a note to circle back to say, how are you going?  Be social. Jump online, connect with them. It can still be very professional and from a professional manner, but we’re human beings. And just because we’re not going to work with each other anymore, or just because you don’t need my services right now, or can’t afford them, or whatever the reason is, It doesn’t mean you can’t keep that connection, these relationships are still very important.”

Whether it’s sending a quick email, connecting on social media, or sending a holiday greeting, keeping the relationship alive can have far-reaching benefits. Your client will appreciate your care and attention, and when they need something in the future, they will think of you.

Action: 🎯 Add a ‘keep-in-touch’ reminder in your calendar to check in with former clients periodically.


Wrapping it up

A goodbye isn’t really a final wave. It’s just a friendly, ‘see you around’.

We bet by now you get it – a well-thought-out offboarding process is a game changer. It’s not just about finishing up a project, it’s your ticket to long-lasting, awesome client relationships, more business, and a sparkling reputation. With a bit of crystal clear chit-chat, handling data securely, smartly asking for those testimonials, and keeping the relationship alive, your offboarding can be as unforgettable as your onboarding.

So, let’s turn each goodbye into a ‘catch you later,’ and remember, your journey with a client doesn’t have to stop just because the project has. Use offboarding as a chance to nurture future growth and mutual wins.


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Follow along with the transcript

E13 Creating Amazing Client Offboarding Experiences  Goodbye is never goodbye

 [00:00:00] hello. Hello. Welcome to another episode of The Audacious OBM. I’m Leanne Woff. Today, I’m really [00:01:00] excited. We are talking about the final piece for our Creating Amazing Client Experiences series. There’s a lot of S’s there, guys. Okay, so today’s episode is called Creating Amazing Client Offboarding Experiences.

Goodbye is never goodbye. So we are talking about the breakup and we want it to be good right till the very end. So even if you’ve ended on rocky terms, or you thought that the contract was going to go further and it didn’t, or the retainer was going to go on for a longer time, or they were going to renew and they didn’t, we still want it to be a really pleasant ending because you never know what’s going on behind the scenes.

Right. [00:02:00] All right. So I’m going to cover some things that you might not have thought about when looking at your entire offboarding journey. And it’s thinking from, again, the client’s perspective and what they might be thinking and feeling, or information they might need to know, and some things that you can do to pre empt any icky situations.

And I’ll explain a little bit more about that as I go. So the first thing we need to do, which is the same as when we’re looking at offboarding, when we’re looking at delivery, sorry, when we’re looking at onboarding, and when we’re looking at delivery, it’s looking at your process for offboarding at a high level.

So what are the things we need to do process wise? Here are the practical things. Well, I’m, I don’t need access [00:03:00] to your different accounts anymore. I need to do an offboarding call. I need to do a handover call. I need to delete any of your assets from my system. These are all the practical things. And some of them the client is involved in and some aren’t.

But we always start with the tangible pieces. So once you’ve mapped that out, I want you to look at when we need to start communicating in our offboarding journey. So if you know the end of a contract is coming up, at what point do you start talking about what happens next? Look at your system, your process, and work out where that is.

Because then you can create structured communication around it. And I want you to be really specific when you’re thinking about this. What needs to happen? When does it need to happen? When is an appropriate time to start [00:04:00] talking about it? And when we’ve kind of mapped that out, I might know, Okay, I run on quarterly retainers and we’re getting to the end of the quarter.

The client hasn’t told me if they’re going to continue for another quarter. I’ve asked them three times. So now I’m going to assume that they’re not going ahead. So at that point, I send them an email. I say, Hey, it’s been amazing working with you. I know you haven’t responded to me about whether you’ll be continuing or not.

So I’m just going to assume for now that you want to take a break for a while. Here’s what that means. So work out what your cutoff point is, because you need to be able to plan for the future, right?

Then, you work out what offboarding experience looks like for the client. At what point do I tell the client, Alright, we’re coming [00:05:00] to an end. So we need this to be After we know we’re finishing, right? Because if we’re still in the limbo mode of, are they continuing? Aren’t they? We can’t have this kind of conversation.

It just makes it awkward. But once we know for sure the contract isn’t going ahead anymore, it’s not renewing, we start our offboarding. From that minute is when we start offboarding. And I want you to be really specific when you’re communicating with your clients. I want you to be telling them what will happen, when it will happen, the order it will happen in, and what they’re going to need to do.

So again, it’s giving them as much information, relevant information up front as possible. So it might be, a month before we finish up and we start sending an email that just says, Hey! I know that the contract ends in a month, and [00:06:00] I just wanted to give you a heads up that this is how our offboarding process works.

We have a handover call. Then we we have a handover call. Then we remove our access to things. Then we get you to sign off on the project and then, and then, and then. And so when they get that, they already can see, Oh, this is what’s going to happen. When they remove their access, it’s because they’ve met this point.

They’ve already told me that’s going to happen. And what’s not going to happen then is the access gets removed. And all of a sudden your client is thinking, Oh, they’ve removed themselves from everything. Are they stopping right now? Or what’s going on? Purely because you’ve told them. It also gives you the opportunity to book in the things that you need to book in.

So if you’ve explained, we’re going to have a handover call. [00:07:00] You can book in that handover call before your contract is over. Okay, your contract ends in a month. So in about three weeks time, we need to have a handover call. Here are the dates that I have available. Do these work for you? Here’s what happens in a handover call.

So it’s setting up the rest of that process to flow really well to have it be an ongoing conversation where your client is considered and they’re actively participating in it. Then I want you to think about the things that they need to do. So map out on your process. At this point, I need the client to sign off.

This is really important. Otherwise. I might be in trouble legally, or otherwise the accounts will all still be in my name. Like, what are those things that [00:08:00] you’re definitely going to need before closing? And then make sure communicating about them is sprinkled in your offboarding process till they’re done.

We don’t want to miss anything super crucial just because we forgot to talk about it or ask for what we needed. The other thing that you can do is ask your clients what they need from you. Because they’re in this too, they’ve been working with you for how long, so closely. Hey, I know we’re ending soon, I just wanted to see if there was anything else you need from me.

I’ve removed all my access, I’ve sent you the handover, call recording. This is the opportunity I just wanted to check. Because there might be something you haven’t thought of. Oh, I gave you the password for this thing and I don’t know where it is. Or I know you set up this account for me, but I have no idea how to [00:09:00] access it.

Oh, no worries. That’s here, here and here. Not a problem. All of a sudden. That’s a much nicer experience than it is a, Alright, we’ve done handover, it was lovely working with you, goodbye. The next thing is the consideration of when things happen in terms of it’s final, removing access, deleting data, what are your data storage

protocols?, because it’s important and I know as part of my process, I tell my clients how long I keep their assets for and at what point I’ll be deleting them off my servers. So they need to make sure they keep their own copies and I remind them about that. In offboarding, because that would be awful, right?

To lose all of your stuff because you thought that your supplier had it and your supplier had already deleted it. [00:10:00] So let’s give them the opportunity to get what they need. We also need to discuss access and what can be removed at different stages because sometimes you might need access to some things and other things you can get rid of sooner, other things you might need to keep on a little bit longer, you might be moving to a different kind of service, maybe a lower retainer where you don’t need access to so much anymore.

And so just be really clear about when you’re removing access. Why you’re removing it, and if it’s that the client has to remove your access, you want to remind them to do that too.

Then let’s look at, this has been a great working experience. We have put in a lot of time and effort into building a relationship with this client. And as is pretty standard, we want to ask for a testimonial and it can [00:11:00] be a little bit awkward to ask for testimonials, but if you build it into your process, it won’t be and it can be really casual.

“Hey, I really loved working with you and I hope that you’ve enjoyed the experience too. Would you be willing to give me a testimonial?” And you can give them links and instructions to make it really easy. You can say to them, I’ll only present the message, I won’t put your name. Or you can say, “I’m going to use your name and your photo and put it on my marketing.

Is that okay?” So you’ve got to work out where in the offboarding that that is best placed. Then you also might want to be asking for referrals. Hey, you’ve told me this is amazing. If there’s anybody else in your sphere that you think might benefit from my services or need me in their world, could you please let me know or could you send them my way?

Then, [00:12:00] I want you to make a note to get back in touch with that person. This is not a flows and runs situation. You’ve built… This relationship with this person, and it’s been awesome. You don’t have to stop talking to them. You don’t have to pretend they don’t exist. You want to keep that relationship.

So make a note to circle back to say, how are you going? To say, Hey, do you need my services anymore? And be social. Jump online, connect with them. It can still be very professional and from a professional manner, but we’re human beings. And just because we’re not going to work with each other anymore, or just because you don’t need my services right now, or can’t afford them, or whatever the reason is, It doesn’t mean you can’t keep that connection, these relationships are still very important.

And so, I think it’s important for us to factor it into our process, because [00:13:00] we are very process driven. The more that we do that, the more our clients feel like we’ve invested, we’ve actually committed, we actually care about them, about their business, and it filters all the way through. So even though we’re not working with them anymore, they’re still going to remember the way they felt working with you, and the fact that you still care, and when they need something else, they’re coming back to you.

Or when their friends need something, their business friends or colleagues or, you know, suppliers, when they need something, they’re going to think of you because you’ve really built in that human element right up to the very, very end, which really isn’t the end. Goodbye is never goodbye.

Always assume it’s goodbye for now [00:14:00] in this capacity. So we’ve come to the end of our creating amazing client experiences. This is something that I walk all the students in OBM Academy through. It’s one of my nine crucial steps in my six figure OBM roadmap because I believe it is so important. And I hope across the last four episodes.

I’ve given you a really solid foundation of how you can create these experiences and the benefit of doing it. I would really love it if you could let me know if you’ve tried any of these things. I always like to see the different techniques OBMs are trying or things they’re adding in to their processes to expand that experience.

It’s really exciting. It’s fun. So yeah, get [00:15:00] in touch. You can send me a DM, send me an email, however you wish. I will speak to you next week. Thanks everybody.