Running a successful mastermind or group program that truly achieves clients’ goals is no easy feat. And while every business should be concerned with customer happiness, leading a mastermind comes with client-delight challenges unique to this kind of high-touch offering – starting with initial contact.

I know you already provide a top-notch program, and you’ve perfected many of the elements involved with delivering it. You’re probably like most super-busy entrepreneurs; you haven’t given yourself the time to take a step back and look at the big picture of your clients’ experience.

From the moment clients engage with you, they should feel optimistic and excited about working together. Your marketing and website will have done some of the heavy lifting, but as you know, gaining clients’ interest is only the beginning of the work involved in fully onboarding them.

Once you’ve qualified them, they need to feel completely confident that you are the person to solve their problem, and that your program delivers the promised results. Intake should be smooth, clear, and simple, and should reinforce their initial decision to work with you. And whether your mastermind has a trial period or not, their experience upon starting the program itself should immediately motivate and excite them, setting the stage for success.

In short, your onboarding process should leave your clients thrilled to be working with you and ready for more.

Naturally, you want to delight your students because you believe in them and are dedicated to helping them achieve their goals. Maintaining client happiness is also just basic good business. Happy clients stay in your program, enroll in future courses, purchase your book, recommend you for a speaking engagement, and refer you to others, as examples. Providing an exceptional onboarding experience, along with continued results, is in the best interests of your students and your own bottom line. Everybody wins.

Unfortunately, there are several places where onboarding can go wrong.

The Challenges of Smooth Mastermind Onboarding

You have a much bigger job of maintaining customer happiness throughout onboarding than most businesses. A one-off transactional purchase may not require any interaction beyond an automated receipt. Something like a CRM software subscription may need just a demo, an initial training, and a 30-day check-in.

Think about all that’s required of you and your team throughout your onboarding process from the moment the client expresses interest: Gather client data, hold the consultation call, follow up, send and sign the contract, send invoices and receive payment, welcome the client, outline expectations and next steps, make sure the client knows how to access the course material, address any technical issues, review her preliminary assignments, monitor her progress as she starts the course, promptly answer questions, solicit initial feedback, and develop a full understanding of her personality, needs, and goals.

Depending on your specific offering, this may be just the tip of the iceberg. And, you’ve got to do this for multiple clients to maintain a personal touch and making sure nothing falls through the cracks, all while running your business in the background.

Now, think about the methods you’re using to accomplish all of your onboarding tasks. Do you have streamlined workflows that leave everybody happy and nothing overlooked? Or do you and your team find yourselves doing hours of data entry, sometimes in multiple spreadsheets and folders? Are there last-minute emergencies, such as a client who never received her welcome packet?

Maybe you’re juggling a host of apps and platforms that seem to cost you as much time as they save. You wish they could integrate with each other more efficiently. Maybe you’re often in reactive mode, putting out fires, and directing team members who aren’t sure who’s responsible for what.

If you find yourself in that kind of stressful onboarding situation, it’s likely because your business has grown quickly and you’ve had to patch your systems together on the fly. But when those patchwork systems let your clients down, it’s time to make a change. One missing email, one forgotten document, one unreturned phone call can instill doubt and undo all the positive feelings you’ve worked so hard to cultivate.

The good news is, it’s actually quite simple and straightforward to design an onboarding process that checks all the boxes, delights your clients, and lets you rest easy.

Systems: The Secret to Mastermind Onboarding Success

While “systems,” “automations,” and “processes” may sound a little intimidating, they all really mean the same thing: Simplifying each small element of your workflow so that everything works together seamlessly and efficiently. A “system” can be as simple as setting up a calendar alert for checking in with students.

In fact, you likely already have some solid, repeatable processes in place that can serve as a starting point for streamlining your entire onboarding process. You may have templates that you use for your welcome package, or an email automation that goes out once a client signs up. You might already be using project management software to check off core steps, assign tasks, and keep team members in the loop.

But there are several additional tweaks you can make to your processes to ensure you’re always running at maximum efficiency, and that your systems deliver the best possible onboarding experience for your clients.

You can create systems and automations that simplify contracts and payment, eliminate spreadsheet overwhelm, and collect and store all your data in one place.

You can create systems that allow you and your team to see at-a-glance where each client is in the onboarding process.

Systems can make it easy to spot and address potential student hurdles; for example, a system can alert you when a student has missed a module. You can then use another system to quickly remind yourself of her circumstances and goals, check in with her using an email template, and make sure she’s ok, instead of being surprised by her cancellation.

Are you beginning to see how systems make it much easier to provide an exceptional high-touch onboarding experience?

A Reassuring Word About “Automation”

As a mastermind leader, you may be immediately wary of “automating” your onboarding process, either because it sounds complicated and technical, or it because it sounds like it would de-personalize the client experience, or both.

But automation doesn’t mean that you lose the personal touch that’s so impactful to your clients. It’s the opposite; automation frees up time and energy that you can direct toward clients, instead of spending it on tasks that could literally be taking care of themselves.

And you don’t need any specialized knowledge or skills that you don’t already have. You just need to put the right systems in place, the ones that eliminate all the time-consuming tasks that are driving you and your team crazy, and that you know could be done more efficiently.

After all, you don’t have a team member devoting hours each week to back-and-forth emailing about consultation times; you have an online scheduler. What else would you like to simplify and automate in the same way? How would that benefit your students, your team, and your business?

Client Delight Beyond Onboarding

Here’s the best part: Once you have implemented and perfected your onboarding systems, they’ll have a ripple effect across your entire business.

You can drastically reduce the amount of time you and your team spend tracking and updating various spreadsheets and folders – time you can then allot to the ideas you’ve had for making your course even better.

You would finally be able to bring all your client data together for some actionable insights – where are students dropping off or facing difficulty? Where do they make the most progress, both within a specific cohort and across multiple enrollments? How can you use that information to anticipate and correct problems or improve your course? What ideas can this data give you about future offerings?

Systems can also simplify everything you already do to go the extra mile, along with anything you’ve been wanting to incorporate into your service. You can more easily stay current in client industries, create personalized video check-ins for graduates, keep track of upcoming client milestones such as product or book launches, send birthday or business anniversary greetings, easily spot opportunities for introductions, notify clients about helpful articles and resources, and simplify gift-giving.

The benefits of systemizing go well beyond your onboarding process. Ultimately, you’re not only bringing clients on board, you’re ensuring they stay on board – for the duration of your program and well beyond.