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Onboarding  the process your bank or credit union uses to define your ongoing relationship with new customers or members  is a critical part of your marketing strategy. A comprehensive onboarding process gives financial institutions control over that relationship starting with the initial enrollment of a product or service.

A successful onboarding program defines how and when you communicate with each customer or member, and which products and services will benefit them most. Here are three must-haves for any onboarding program.

1. Moderate to low time investment

Nearly 75% of all cross-sell opportunities occur within the first 90 days a customer or member begins a relationship with your FI, according to a report on next-generation customer onboarding published by PitneyBowes. Your cross-selling efforts should be continued long after that, but those first three months present a critical opportunity to hook those new relationships on as many products and services as possible. 

In order to get customers at all though, the process can't require a large investment of their time. It's important that customers feel valued and not frustrated by old technology or too many steps. If it takes too long, they'll abandon. Customers expect an app and the ability to get started quickly. As FI processes require more data and regulation, it's natural for them to take longer, but banks should shorten the process as much as possible in other places: perhaps a one-click verification of an email change instead of sending an update in the mail. 

Remember: Onboarding doesn't stop once you land a customer. You have to engage with them and help them flourish while working with you. Examples of how to engage might include trial periods of services, explanations of products or a dedicated resource to ask questions for free. To help customers grow, communication and cross-selling are a must. 

Cross-selling through onboarding

Because it's far easier to sell to existing customers than capture new ones, use these ideas to nail the cross-sell: 

  • Once you get to know your customer and what they need help with, offer products or services that complement their current ones
  • Consider consolidating a few products or services into one package with a discounted price
  • Show product recommendations, complete with reviews from other happy customers
  • Demonstrate the value of other products, showing how "X" will help save them time

2. Incorporation of data

Your FI's marketing efforts are only as good as your data. It can help you figure out what current and potential customers are struggling with and help you personalize your interactions with customers.

It is imperative that you gather as much useful data as possible when a consumer opens his or her first account. If this person is in the market for a new house or car, your FI needs that information. So, you need processes in place and to train your staff to gather information when the consumer opens that first account. Continue collecting information at every contact point. To do this without overwhelming them, make sure they know how you'll benefit them in the future.

For example, one idea is to let your customers choose where you interact with them — such as on a desktop, phone, in-person or through paper mailings. You'll improve customer relationships when you can provide an efficient and personalized experience. 

Improving personalization

Some ideas for helping customers through personalization: 

  • Data and analytics help FIs understand customers and their spending habits, making it easier to provide them with the right products and services at the right time
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) can optimize the customer experience by analyzing user behavior and characteristics to predict future behavior
  • Know your Customer (KYC) can use blockchain to manage digital identity securely
  • Biometrics, like Apple's Face ID or fingerprint recognition, use characteristics to recognize an individual based on physical traits, speeding up the authentication process

3. Strong planning

Onboarding doesn’t happen by chance. It involves an intricately mapped out plan which dictates what offers a specific member will receive and in which order they will receive them. It is a matrix that changes the order of customer or member communications based on whether or not a specific person responds to previous offers. This is a highly-automated process that many financial institutions may need help implementing. If you don’t have the expertise or automation in place to execute something of this magnitude, choose a vendor who does. 

Owning the onboarding process

Since customers can easily compare offers and competitors, it's important to do as much as you can to improve the onboarding process. Focus on these things to start: 

  • Governance: Take ownership of the onboarding process to ensure it's a high point for customers
  • Design: Have a good online design to help users quickly navigate and complete actions themselves, saving them precious time 
  • Digitization and automation: Use less paper and more software to speed up the process

To be most successful and avoid losing attention, Backbase recommends doing as much as possible via smartphone or desktop, and leaving the longer tasks like signing a contract for in person experiences.  

Marketing is all about getting the right message to the right consumer at the right time. Your chances of increasing cross-sell opportunities and deepening relationships with customers or members greatly improves with a successful onboarding program.

The information provided in this blog does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice.

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