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How to Improve Digital Customer Onboarding in Banking

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written byTech Partnerships & Collaboration Expert, EPAM Startups & SMBs

Anush has a history of planning and executing digital communications strategies with a focus on technology partnerships, tech buying advice for small companies, and remote team collaboration insights. At EPAM Startups & SMBs, Anush works closely with subject matter experts to share first-hand expertise on making software engineering collaboration a success for all parties involved.

Anush has a history of planning and executing digital communications strategies with a focus on technology partnerships, tech buying advice for small companies, and remote team collaboration insights. At EPAM Startups & SMBs, Anush works closely with subject matter experts to share first-hand expertise on making software engineering collaboration a success for all parties involved.

In the increasingly digital landscape of today's banking sector, customer onboarding has emerged as a critical touchpoint that can significantly influence a customer's long-term engagement and satisfaction with their banking services. As traditional banking institutions and fintech companies alike strive to attract and retain customers in a highly competitive market, the efficiency, user-friendliness, and security of digital customer onboarding in banking processes have become paramount within the broader landscape of IT for banks.

With the rise of digital banking and fintech, customers now expect not only convenience and speed but also personalized experiences and robust security measures from their onboarding journey. Leveraging cutting-edge technologies such as AI and machine learning for data validation is increasingly essential, and the role of intuitive design in reducing drop-off rates and the implementation of regulatory compliance without compromising the user experience are vital.

Here's a look at how to improve digital onboarding in banking, ensuring customer expectations for those opening checking accounts, savings accounts, or anything else aren’t just met but exceeded.

What is customer onboarding in banking?

The bank customer onboarding process for a new account is the procedure through which new clients are introduced and integrated into a bank's ecosystem, encompassing the initial steps a customer takes from signing up for an account to becoming a fully engaged user of banking services. This critical phase involves verifying the customer's identity (KYC), setting up account preferences, familiarizing them with the banking platform's features, and ensuring compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.

A well-structured onboarding process in the banking system not only lays the foundation for a secure and trustworthy relationship but also significantly enhances client satisfaction by providing a smooth, intuitive, and hassle-free start to their banking journey, setting the tone for their entire experience.

Traditional vs. digital customer onboarding in banking

The landscape of new customer onboarding in banking has evolved significantly from traditional, in-person processes to digital, online platforms. Traditional onboarding typically involved physical visits to a bank branch, filling out paper forms, and providing hard copies of identity verification documents, which could be time-consuming and inconvenient for customers.

In contrast, digital services for bank onboarding leverage online applications, electronic document submission, and automated verification processes, offering a more streamlined, efficient, and accessible experience. This shift not only caters to the modern customer's expectation for speed and convenience but also allows banks to reach a wider audience, capture higher operational efficiencies, secure cost advantages, and enhance overall service.

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Why is customer onboarding important for banks?

Banking customer onboarding is crucial as it sets the foundation for the entire banking relationship. A smooth and efficient onboarding process can lead to significantly higher customer satisfaction and retention from the outset. It serves as the first impression a customer has of the bank's services and capabilities, influencing their decision to continue using the bank's products.

Additionally, a well-designed onboarding digital process can streamline compliance with regulatory requirements, reduce the risk of fraud, and facilitate the collection of valuable client data. With the latter, financial institutions can support personalized banking experiences and targeted offerings, ultimately driving revenue and profitability for the bank.

Meet regulatory requirements

For banks, meeting regulatory requirements is a non-negotiable aspect of new customer onboarding. Regulations such as KYC and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) mandates necessitate thorough identity verification and background checks to prevent financial crimes.

A robust customer onboarding banking process ensures that institutions comply with these regulations by accurately collecting, verifying, and storing customer information. In turn, banks safeguard the financial system's integrity and maintain customer trust.

Minimize fraud risk

Effective bank customer onboarding processes play a pivotal role in minimizing the risk of fraud. By implementing advanced verification methods and security checks during the initial stages of onboarding, banks can identify and deter potential fraudulent activities. This not only protects the bank's assets but also secures customers' personal and financial information, reinforcing the trust and confidence customers place in their banking institutions.

Improve customer experience

A seamless and user-friendly client onboarding process is key to improving the overall customer experience in banking. By reducing complexities, eliminating unnecessary steps, reducing manual data entry, and incorporating intuitive digital interfaces, banks can ensure that new customers face minimal friction in starting their banking journey. Plus, a positive onboarding experience can keep customers engaged, encouraging clients to explore and use more of the bank's services.

Increase customer loyalty

The initial customer interactions between a client and a bank during the onboarding process can significantly influence customer loyalty. Companies that offer a personalized, efficient, and supportive onboarding experience are more likely to foster long-term relationships with their customers. This loyalty not only enhances customer retention rates but also turns satisfied customers into advocates for the bank, driving organic growth through word-of-mouth referrals.

Cross-sell additional products and services

Onboarding in financial services presents an opportunity for banks to introduce and cross-sell additional products and services. By understanding customer needs and preferences during the onboarding process, it’s possible to tailor offerings and recommend relevant services that add value to the customer's banking experience. This strategic approach not only enhances customer satisfaction but also contributes to the bank's revenue streams.

Reduce customer churn

A smooth and engaging financial services customer onboarding experience can significantly reduce customer churn. Customers are more likely to abandon a banking relationship if they encounter difficulties, delays, or frustrations during the onboarding process. By prioritizing efficiency, clarity, and support, banks can offer a streamlined onboarding process during account opening to ensure that customers feel valued and understood from the beginning, reducing the likelihood of them switching to a competitor.

Collect valuable customer data

A digital onboarding process is a critical point for banks to collect valuable data that can inform future interactions and offerings to boost customer relationships during the account opening process. By gathering insights into customer behaviors, preferences, and needs, a financial institution can personalize its services, improve customer satisfaction, and identify opportunities for upselling and cross-selling. This data-driven approach empowers banks to create more targeted and effective strategies for customer engagement and retention.

Increase revenue and profitability

Ultimately, effective digital onboarding for banks can significantly contribute to a bank's revenue and profitability. By enhancing customer satisfaction, loyalty, and engagement, banks can increase the usage of their services and the adoption of additional products. Furthermore, an efficient client onboarding process in financial services leads to a cost savings by boosting operational efficiency while improving compliance, contributing to a more profitable and sustainable business model.

Key components of effective customer onboarding in banking

Effective digital onboarding solutions for banks are built on several foundational components that collectively ensure a seamless, efficient, and secure experience for new customers. These key elements include clear communication to set expectations and guide customers through the onboarding journey, digital accessibility to provide convenient and user-friendly platforms, streamlined processes that reduce complexity and minimize time to activation, robust security measures to protect customer data and build trust, and multi-channel support to offer assistance and engage customers through their preferred channels.

Together, these components form the backbone of a successful onboarding strategy, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty from the outset. Here’s a closer look at what’s needed for a strong foundation when embracing new approaches to digital onboarding in financial services.

Clear communication

When customers engage with companies, clear communication is crucial in the customer onboarding process, ensuring that clients understand what is required from them and what they can expect from the bank. This involves providing concise and transparent information about the onboarding steps, the documents needed, and the timeline for account activation.

Additionally, effective communication includes regular updates and feedback loops, allowing customers to feel informed and supported throughout the entire process. By including those features, companies are reducing anxiety and building a strong foundation for the banking relationship with their clients.

Digital accessibility

In the digital age, ensuring that onboarding processes are easily accessible through online and mobile apps is essential for meeting customer expectations. Digital accessibility involves creating user-friendly interfaces, simplifying application forms, and enabling clients to complete the customer onboarding process from anywhere, at any time.

By supporting digital accessibility, financial companies not only cater to the convenience and preferences of modern customers but also expand the bank's reach to a broader audience, including those who may not have easy access to physical branches.

Streamlined processes

Streamlined procedures are key to reducing the time and effort required for customers to onboard with a bank. This involves eliminating unnecessary steps, automating routine tasks, and using technology to expedite identity verification and document processing.

By making the onboarding process as efficient as possible, banks create a significantly enhanced customer experience for clients opening a new account. Further, the strategy reduces drop-off rates and accelerates the time to full account functionality.

Security measures

Customer onboarding in financial services requires robust security. By implementing the right measures, companies safeguard sensitive customer information and comply with regulatory standards. This includes using encryption for data transmission, employing multi-factor authentication, and conducting thorough identity verification checks.

Strong security practices not only protect against fraud and data breaches but also reinforce the customer's trust in the bank's ability to protect their assets and personal information. As a result, such strategies are genuinely essential.

Multi-channel support

Providing multi-channel support means offering customers assistance and engagement through various communication channels, including in-person, phone, email, chat, and social media. This approach ensures that customers can receive help and guidance in the way that suits them best — such as by using the devices, mobile apps, or digital environment they may prefer — enhancing their onboarding experience and overall satisfaction.

Multi-channel support also allows banks to cater to diverse customer preferences and needs. Financial institutions are essentially ensuring that all customers, regardless of their technological proficiency or accessibility, receive the support they need, and that makes a difference.

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Onboarding challenges

Customer onboarding for financial institutions comes with its fair share of challenges. Many banks use a piecemeal approach to document collection and ask customers to do duplicate data entry as the process unfolds, both of which are inefficient. Similarly, traditional paper-based processes are cumbersome, reducing the overall convenience of joining.

Issues with transparency and a lack of personalization can also harm the banking customer experience. Insufficient information or unclear instructions that result in ambiguity lead to confusion, which can harm customer trust. Failing to offer personalization can also hurt the experience while also causing financial services companies to miss out on upselling or cross-selling opportunities.

Banks also face ever-evolving regulatory requirements, which may increase the complexity of onboarding processes over time. Legacy systems may cause bottlenecks, harming efficiency. If the onboarding process becomes lengthy, then it may cause higher drop-out rates or lower customer retention. Plus, a frustrating experience leads to negative word-of-mouth, harming the financial institution’s future prospects.

Best practices in customer digital onboarding

Embracing digital onboarding best practices as part of their financial software development ensures banks offer an optimal experience while ensuring a secure environment. As a result, these strategies are essential. Central to these practices is the emphasis on user experience (UX) design, which should be intuitive and streamlined. Additionally, minimizing the number of steps required to complete the onboarding and ensuring that instructions are clear and straightforward are both a must.

Incorporating features like auto-fill for known information, real-time feedback on data entry errors, and progress indicators can significantly enhance the user experience. Equally important is the adaptation of responsive design, ensuring the onboarding process is seamless across various devices, from desktops to smartphones, catering to the growing mobile user base. Additionally, leveraging advanced technologies like biometric authentication and AI-driven chatbots can not only expedite the verification process but also provide instant support and guidance, making the digital onboarding journey more engaging and less daunting for customers.

Beyond the immediate user interface, effective digital onboarding in banking also involves a strong backend infrastructure that prioritizes data security and compliance with regulatory requirements. Encryption of sensitive data, secure data storage, and rigorous compliance checks are non-negotiable to protect against fraud and maintain customer trust. Transparency is another cornerstone; customers should be informed about how their data is being used and the measures in place to protect their privacy.

Additionally, banks should adopt an ongoing process improvement mindset, gathering customer feedback and analyzing onboarding data to identify bottlenecks and areas for enhancement. By adhering to these best practices, banks can not only streamline the onboarding process but also foster a positive, seamless online and mobile banking experience, laying the groundwork for long-term customer engagement and loyalty.

Case study: Capital One

Capital One is a leader in the world of digital banking, particularly through its Capital One 360 product suite, which was part of a digital transformation and specifically online and mobile app-oriented. The financial services giant aimed to offer a streamlined approach to banking customer onboarding and seamless integration of various technologies, ensuring processes for its Capital One 360 were entirely completable online. Additionally, the company offers streamlined multi-channel options for communication, including a convenient chatbot that can answer a variety of commonly asked questions any time, day or night. Along with supporting customer acquisition, its approach enhances satisfaction.

Case study: SoFi

SoFi didn’t need digital transformation, as it always had a distinct focus on online banking options, and it shows in its customer acquisition process and onboarding procedures. Completing every step online is not just possible but incredibly straightforward. SoFi also offers exceptional customer support through its multi-channel approach, which includes phone and chat options.

How we can help you with digital onboarding

EPAM Startups & SMBs offers digital solutions for financial institutions looking for effective, efficient, and comprehensive customer onboarding software for banks. Our talent pool features technical experts from all around the globe, making it easier for financial institutions to access the skill sets they need to bring their vision to life. Plus, our experienced consultants can help banks clarify their goals for their new digital solutions, as well as integrate best practices into the process to ensure success.

FAQ

Anush_Dilanyan.jpg
written byTech Partnerships & Collaboration Expert, EPAM Startups & SMBs

Anush has a history of planning and executing digital communications strategies with a focus on technology partnerships, tech buying advice for small companies, and remote team collaboration insights. At EPAM Startups & SMBs, Anush works closely with subject matter experts to share first-hand expertise on making software engineering collaboration a success for all parties involved.

Anush has a history of planning and executing digital communications strategies with a focus on technology partnerships, tech buying advice for small companies, and remote team collaboration insights. At EPAM Startups & SMBs, Anush works closely with subject matter experts to share first-hand expertise on making software engineering collaboration a success for all parties involved.

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