Bank Customer Onboarding - Top Strategies

It’s a familiar story. You just acquired a new customer, and it feels like the time to celebrate (or work the next opportunity). But not so fast. With technological innovation on the rise and consumers expecting more, changing banks isn’t just an appealing option – it’s an easy one.

Research from Resonate suggests that 5.3 percent of the online adult population in the U.S. – roughly 12 million people – is considering switching financial institutions. Another 16 percent is on the fence. It’s not enough to get a new customer. You’ve got to keep them.

New customers need to understand how your product or service makes a difference in their lives – and they want to see results fast. However, before your customers can be onboarded appropriately, you need to layout the framework and develop your onboarding strategy. 

The key to any successful onboarding strategy is that you know your customer, what their priorities are and how to reach so that you can guide them as seamlessly as possible to their first success with your bank. Here’s what to keep top-of-mind to serve your customers well from day one.

Who Is Your Customer?

From day one, you likely have some basic information about your customer. But that doesn’t mean you know them on a personal level or that you have a sense of their motivations. This presents a significant challenge to designing an onboarding process: How can you tell what information will be useful to someone if you don’t know what will resonate with them?

The answer is to use personas as an interim solution until you’re ready to introduce data-driven segmentation. Grouping customers by persona rather than in data-bounded segments is less precise, but these personas still add value to true segmentation and modeling later on in the customer journey.

To build a strong foundation for your customer onboarding journey, use first-party or third-party data (like credit attributes) to do lookalike modeling from the beginning, and you’ll find yourself better positioned to refine your segments as you deepen customer relationships.

Whatever you do, make it a point to understand the obstacles, pain points, and challenges different personas or segments face, as well as their ideal outcomes and solutions, so that you can tailor their onboarding experience.

Data: What Do You Have and What Do You Need?

As you start thinking about your onboarding strategy, figure out when, where, and how to incorporate advanced analytics and data as early in the process as possible.

Do an informal audit of the information you receive from a customer’s initial application or visit, and any other data they have provided. From here, there are two main questions:

  1. What can you learn from the data you have?
  2. What data do you need to get your customers what they want going forward?

Take the time to study your customers and learn what they need. For example, a lack of data may lead you to re-evaluate your sign-up process. Are you getting all the information you need at the onset? Do you have your customer’s home address, email address, birthdate, and marital status? Would it also help you to know their education level or their job title? The sooner you create a rich customer profile, the more thorough your onboarding process can be.

More Than Touchpoints: Map Out a Process That Will Make Sense to Your Customer

When you consider how to create an onboarding process, you should do more than think about individual touchpoints. Never lose sight of where each interaction fits into a customer’s onboarding journey.

To ensure that this journey deepens your customers’ level of comfort and trust with your products or services, consider three things:

1. Expectations

A great customer experience will meet or exceed the customer’s expectations, so it’s important to consider what your customers expect from their experience with your financial brand before they begin the onboarding process. Think about how you can set your customers up for a smooth transition by establishing a realistic set of expectations for the products and services they’re about to access.

For example, if they’ve signed up for a credit card, make sure you prepare them for what comes next. How will your customers know where to go to check their balance, make a payment, or download a statement? Be sure you articulate what will be available to them and steer them toward the tools they need to get the most out of your bank’s services.

2. Timing

The timing of every interaction and follow-up matters: Balance providing information and calls to action to help your customers feel like they are being addressed as a real person who is in contact with other real people who work at a bank that cares. How you time your outreach and follow-up makes a difference when your goal is to provide a humanized experience.

3. Channels

Where you reach your customers matters. Consider how you acquired your customers and give them the opportunity early on to share how they prefer to be contacted. For example, if a customer opens their account after receiving a promotional code as part of a direct mail campaign, plan your onboarding process to account for their penchant for print.

Find a way to identify your customer’s channel preferences early on. This will help you understand  where and how they get their information as well as where they’re most likely to respond. 

Do You Have The Right Tech Stack to Deliver a Humanized Experience?

Any modern marketer will design a savvy plan that includes communicating with customers across channels, and executing this onboarding plan at scale will take more than your average CRM.

To deliver a humanized customer experience, it is best to draw up a complete outline of the ultimate onboarding experience first. By putting the customer experience at the front of your argument, you’ll be well-positioned to make the case for any software, technology, or support you require to execute your plans.

Show Your Customer You Know Them Well

The primary goal of the onboarding process is to provide an exceptional customer experience. To gain their trust in the long-term, you need to anticipate, educate, and advise your customers from day one, and the touchpoints you craft throughout their onboarding journey are your first opportunities to get this right.

Design your onboarding plan with people first and you will be well-positioned to deliver relevant, personalized content with a human touch when your customers need it the most. Look for opportunities to demonstrate to your customers that you know them well, that you’re paying attention to their needs as well as their preferences, and that you’re invested in helping them meet their goals for the short- and long-term, and you’ll win customers for life.