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6 Steps to Seamless Customer Onboarding


With all of the opportunity in the financial services industry, customer onboarding has come up a lot lately. The focus on creating an exceptional introduction to your financial institution is imperative, since having a poor onboarding experience for your customers can pretty much kill your growth…if not your business.

The first experience your customer has with your product sets the tone for your long-term relationship, and if it’s confusing, overwhelming, or otherwise puts up barriers to achieving success (or at least recognizing the value potential in your product), your financial institution will find it difficult to increase wallet share.

Here are a few steps to ensure your customer has a seamless onboarding process, increases their product adoption, and stays with you for years to come.

1. Make the sign-up process simple


How much do you enjoy filling out lengthy registrations? If you answered “not much,” you’re just like the rest of us. Life is complicated enough, and if you don’t make it simple to sign-up for your product or service, you risk losing customers. Take a little time to figure out exactly what you need to know about your customers. The bare necessities are all that should be included in the initial sign-up process. Pare down to the absolute necessary information. While customers expect to give you some of their personal data, they don’t necessarily feel comfortable sharing a lot of their information right from the start.

2. Make your call-to-action compelling


In the financial services world, there’s some pretty stiff competition out there. What can you do to make your sign-up service a “must?” Take a step back, and distill what it is that makes you unique—in no more than two sentences. This tagline or unique selling proposition should be displayed in prominent real estate on your landing page and in all onboarding promotional materials.

3. Vary your customer engagement tactics


Not everyone engages in the same way or processes information in the same manner. Some prefer quick-fire communication from social networks such as Twitter, while others prefer a more intimate conversation offered in relationship-based social networks like Facebook. Consider varying your engagement tactics to meet the needs of your customers/followers and when in doubt, ask how they prefer to communicate. A well-rounded approach provides you more reach and casts a wider net to communicate your value proposition to a larger audience. 

4. Be casual and personable when interacting


When interacting with customers, be personable. The days of overly professional communication are a thing of the past. Customers expect you to be human, helpful, and pleasant. We all appreciate casual conversion that conveys information, without losing that touch of friendliness. We want to be able to relate to our customers, and vice versa. An integral part of the onboarding process is making a new customer feel welcome. For example, if you want to thank a customer for taking the time to sign up for your service, a thank you email is a great way to accomplish this. Remember to keep the tone warm, fun, and offer additional guidance if necessary.

5. Get referrals in onboarding


A great way to expand your customer base is to start including the ability for customers to refer friends during the onboarding process. Encourage your customers to act as your brand ambassador to promote your services, and consider offering a referral fee for doing so. After all, who is more influential than an excited friend or family member? At the very least, make it easy for customers to tweet and share your information with their network. It can take great deal of effort to keep your growth funnel full, so why not save yourself a great deal of work and let your customers help keep those referrals coming?

6. Invest in streamlining your entire process


Before you take your onboarding process live, consider having multiple people sit through the experience. What may seem clear, easy, and super simple for you, may translate to a muddy, difficult, overwhelming process for someone else. With that said, put some serious thought to investing both time and money into streamlining the onboarding process. Whether you have co-workers or testers help in highlighting areas that need work, the bottom line is that you have to do it right.

A successful onboarding process takes time and innovation. No one gets it perfect the first time they build it. It takes time and testing to achieve a process that the majority of customers will accept and enjoy. It’s important to stay positive and keep trying different ideas until you find the one that works best for your customers and your specific situation.

Evolution is important as well. Keep an eye out for new ways to get your customers on board and have the courage to try something new. Keep innovating and keep your customers’ wants first to have a successful onboarding process.

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Customer Service & Loyalty

Crystal Bullard

As Manager of Business Development for SWBC’s Financial Institutions division, Crystal Bullard works with lenders to increase their interest and non-interest income through programs such as AutoPilot Lending and Specialty Products. Before joining SWBC in 2015, Crystal served as Consumer Lending Retention Program Manager at Golden 1 Credit Union in Sacramento, CA, where she developed strategies to increase wallet share and retention for direct and indirect loan members. She also oversaw customer engagement, marketing, and product development for Golden Pacific Bank in Sacramento, as Vice President of Marketing and Product Management.

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