Customer onboarding is a process, not a single step.

Customer onboarding demonstrates to the customer the type of experience they can expect from the organisation. When our onboarding is ineffective it quickly leads to client attrition, but when done right it leads to loyal promoters of our brand.

We never get a second chance to make a great first impression.Successful organisations know that the first purchase is just the beginning, and that the real business value lies in retaining and growing the customer relationship.

It is far easier to retain an existing client than to win over a new one.

To retain clients, organisations need to go beyond product selection and price. They need to engage their employees to deliver a more personal experience. Passionate, engaged employees deliver an experience that creates passionate advocates for your brand.

Running a successful onboarding program is not easy for employees or customers. Onboarding requires us to show our customers:

  • that we understand them
  • how we consistently look out for their needs
  • the opportunities they have to be rewarded for their loyalty

Customer onboarding is critical for successful customer retention in a competitive market, and for Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) compliance.

The critical first 90-days

Our research has shown that the first 90-days is critical to the success and duration of the relationship. In fact, many decide within that period whether they will stay, or go. this applies to your clients and your employees. We expect a streamlined, efficient, and relevant onboarding experience customised to our needs. Financial institutions are no different, however a lack of coordination and a tick-box compliance approach may prevent the delivery of an integrated onboarding process. Instead, due to the red tape and departmental thinking financial institutions often struggle to start customer relationships off on the right foot. As a result, instead of feeling valued many new customers feel undervalued and may leave as quickly as they joined. The Financial institutions that get customer onboarding right can improve customer satisfaction, increase retention and gain valuable insights that help increase Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) compliance.

Consistency matters

Many organisation invest heavily in marketing materials and promotions to attract new customers, but stop as soon as they sign up. This brand-defining experience often stops abruptly and is soon replaced by redundant data requests, reams of duplicate paperwork and numerous “spam-like”generic emails.

It is a lot like only telling your significant other that you love them while courting, and never mentioning it again after the wedding day!

Financial institutions often blame regulatory requirements for their cumbersome onboarding processes, rather than finding ways to proactively welcome them onboard. Though the regulatory requirements do pose some challenges, there are still opportunities for improvements. Onboarding is not a one-time event but the continuation of a conversation aimed at meeting the customers expectations. After the account is opened proactively communicate with the customer, offer loyalty programs, preferred customer status, and offer interactive tools to help the customer continue to engage. Short regular touch points can help the organisation to identify which other products or services will benefit the customer.

7 Key elements of an effective customer onboarding process:

1. Trust is key

Trust is build through consistent action. Most customers see onboarding as a leading indicator of the quality of service they should learn to expect. Do you engage your clients, or ignore them once “won”?

2. Differentiation

The truth is that most financial institutions are closely matched in terms of service offerings and products. Onboarding therefore represents a real opportunity to distinguish yourselves and create a quality first impression. Onboarding is not just a routine function, but a chance to continue to build the relationship.

3. It takes a team

Inconsistent or fragmented onboarding processes can damage your relationships quickly and lose you the client. Client onboarding teams that have complete ownership of the entire onboarding process can help make the process more seamless.

4. Keep it consistent

The client experience should be consistent throughout the process i.e. each touch point should be “client-centric”vs “institution-centric”.

5. Real time data

The key to consistency and congruence is real time data, keeping the team informed of progress, and challenges. Your onboarding “Dashboard” gives all key stakeholders along the value chain the information on what has been completed, and what is still outstanding.

6. Engage before selling

Sales messages before you have earned the client’s trust are a major turnoff. Offering solutions to streamline their experience (such as online banking, mobile banking, bill payment, etc.) enables you to engage the customer before trying to sell additional savings or credit products.

7. Feedback

A critical element of the onboarding process is actively seeking customer feedback. This feedback can be garnered through surveys or in direct conversations. They key is to give them opportunities to share any concerns or frustrations, before the issues becomes as source of friction.The whole onboarding process is a great opportunity to gain insight into a customer’s needs and wants. The first 90-days is also a great opportunity to identify clients who may enthusiastically provide referrals or testimonials. Beyond proactively managing problems, feedback also helps identify those clients who love what you do, and are willing to share their joy with others.


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