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Is Customer Onboarding included in your Digital Transformation Plans? It should be.

March 03, 2021 by Rachel O'Neill

The COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably caused many banks and credit unions to reprioritize “Digital Transformation” to be a top strategic initiative for 2021 and beyond. 

Over the past few years, financial institutions of all sizes have increasingly focused on improving their digital experiences including online banking, mobile banking, online account origination, online chat, interactive teller machines, and some even dabbling in personalization. While these technologies have been around for years, there will always be ways to improve due to new automations, user experience (UX), artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other innovations that still have yet to come. 

But what about onboarding new account holders? With a first-year attrition rate at 20-25%¹ onboarding is a fundamental process to locking in and retaining new customers. However, it is often an afterthought in both technology investments and marketing priorities. In fact, only 24% of financial organizations listed onboarding and cross-selling as a marketing strength².

In the midst of a global pandemic that has caused both your customers and your internal teams to be more digital, here is how you can future-proof your account holder onboarding.

Be “Digital” Early and Often

Being digital may start with having robust online loan and account origination experiences, but it doesn’t end there. It is also much more than a well thought out cadence of emails. While email and direct mail can be a part of onboarding specific products, especially for brand new customers, these traditional channels can no longer be the primary means of delivering messages. 

Online and mobile banking adoption and utilization has surged in the last year. While these channels were already becoming more “mainstream”, the COVID-19 pandemic just accelerated the trend. So why not onboard your account holders on the channels they prefer to interact?

According to Celent, “Banks in the digital vanguard have found that if clients have a positive digital onboarding experience, they will likely use both the bank’s self-service and unattended channels more³.”

The image below shows six steps of a Consumer Checking Account Onboarding sequence that can be 100% digital through a combination of email and messaging via online and mobile banking applications. Be sure to check out the Pro Tips from the Segmint Team. 

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Data shows that it can take two or more years for a bank or credit union to achieve profitability on a typical retail consumer⁴. Don’t lose them before you have locked them in. If your customers are already enrolled in your online and mobile banking applications, continue to reinforce the products and services they already have access to with their existing accounts. This will really anchor-lock them into the products and services they have already adopted.

Be Timely. Be Relevant. Be Dynamic.

Many organizations look at onboarding as a strict sequence of messages that will only progress as each step is complete. Onboarding isn’t a strict sequential path, but rather a journey that ebbs and flows with each individuals’ unique circumstances. 

For example, your institution likely wants to ensure all new checking account customers enroll in direct deposits. Payroll schedules can be weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly, so you may not see a payroll deposit come through for at least 30-days. Bombarding the customer with only direct deposit messages would not be wise, as the timing may be out of their control. 

Instead, ensure the customer also learns about and enrolls in other services affiliated with the account including eStatements, online bill pay, remote deposit capture, overdraft protection, etc. If your onboarding journey is truly dynamic, the customer can learn about all of the beneficial services as they engage with you across channels. 

Timing is everything, but so is the relevance of your messages, ensuring they really resonate with each individual. If you see the customer pays one or more competitive credit cards every month, encouraging them to utilize their debit card may be irrelevant, as they have already become acclimated with the benefits of using a credit card. 

Each individual's experience should be dynamic and targeted, to make the most impact on their financial journey, and to achieve their unique financial goals. This statement rings true for brand new customers being onboarded, and for deepening relationships with your tenured clients. 

Take-Aways to Future-Proof Your Customer Onboarding 

Customer onboarding is not a one-size fits all approach. You should establish a unique journey for each of your products, and by properly leveraging your core data, it will be dynamic and individualized for each of your account holders. 

Below are our top take-aways when implementing a digital onboarding program:

  • Use industry best practices as a foundational element to your onboarding strategy, but ensure campaigns are “Always On” so the journey is dynamic to each individual’s pace.

  • Ensure your technology can easily identify when a new product is opened and automatically trigger an onboarding journey. At Segmint, we identify this through our Product Opening Recency portion of our Key Lifestyle Indicator (KLI) taxonomy. 

  • Deliver relevant messages to your online banking, mobile banking, and public website, and even retargeting website visitors after they leave your digital properties. Don’t be limited to just email and direct mail.

  • Don’t confuse customer acquisition with customer onboarding. Customer onboarding is an enormous opportunity to build customer relationships, and set the tone for a life-long financial partnership.