The importance of guiding customers through the onboarding process

Many customers give up on online banking applications before they’ve taken the opportunity to fully explore them. The key to successful onboarding is making the process as efficient and user-friendly as possible

To maximise digital applications and minimise the rate of abandonment, banks must provide the simplest customer experience with the fewest chances for the customer to abandon 

Before becoming a long-term customer of a bank’s services, individuals must go through an acquisition and onboarding process. This essential sales step follows marketing and precedes long-term account servicing (see Fig 1), but banks often overlook it despite its importance. If not handled well, the money and effort spent creating demand for an account or credit card will not yield customers that have successfully applied, been approved and will subsequently generate revenue.

Digital sales is the all-important step in the customer journey that takes a prospective candidate from ‘apply now’ to ‘submit’ when filling out a deposit, loan or card application. Making that step successful is critical to digital sales results. If customers abandon the application before submitting information to the bank, both prospective and future revenues are lost.

Temenos has developed
three starting strategies to optimise the customer journey, reduce abandonment and drive success for
banking digital sales

To maximise successful application submissions and minimise the rate of abandonment, banks must provide the simplest customer experience with the fewest chances for the customer to abandon. This sounds like common sense, but due to numerous requirements coming from various well-meaning departments, most banks do a poor job of delivering a simple, easily completed digital sales experience. The result is high rates of abandonment, ranging from 70 percent on deposits to 90 percent on loan products.

Over the years, Temenos has developed three starting strategies to optimise the customer journey, reduce abandonment and drive success for banking digital sales.

Customer-friendly systems
In first-generation digital customer acquisition, banks simply took decades-old paper processes and put them online. They were then surprised when the customer response was poor. There was a big problem with this approach: banks developed these processes from an ‘operations-out’ perspective, optimised for the back office, with bank employees as the intended users instead of end-user consumers.

To make things worse, financial institutions designed these processes when competition was lower, fewer alternatives existed and customers did not demand ultimate convenience in their financial experiences.

Often, a customer’s digital experience is a web-based front-end tacked on to an existing system that was not designed for the customer. In many cases, the bank asks candidates for their existing account details when they apply for a personal loan. These questions are driven by the back office, but the answers are not something a customer would know immediately. A confused customer will end up looking elsewhere for a loan. The lesson is: design from the perspective of an outside user, not for the needs of old legacy systems, then use technology in the background to fill in the gaps and transform the data as required by back-office systems.

Keep it simple
When customers access your application, what is the first thing they see? Often, banks provide an exhaustive list of requirements, but the average customer will not invest the time required to complete the process. In fact, they might abandon the application before they even begin.

There may be good reasons for the applicant to meet all the requirements, but it’s far safer to capture their basic contact information before scaring them away. If they cannot meet all requirements immediately, the bank can reach out and find an acceptable workaround, or recommend a different product. Banks should only ask for information they absolutely require and cannot get anywhere else.

This really is common sense: fewer fields means less time and effort is required to complete an application. But with legal, compliance and marketing departments giving reasons why they ‘need’ to capture certain information, applications can quickly become cluttered and lengthy, to the detriment of the customer’s experience.

Abandoned prospects
Data from financial consultancy 11:FS and software-maker CitizenMe illustrates that the top reason by far for abandonment is the amount of information banks attempt to collect. It is therefore important to streamline methods, such as by collapsing six address fields into one through the use of an address-validation service.

Look at every field of your application and ask yourself why you need it. For example, a confirmation field for email and phone numbers is not actually necessary. Try setting up an account with Uber, Airbnb or Amazon; they won’t ask you to re-enter those fields a second time. If there isn’t a defendable, concrete reason to require a field, consider removing it. The amazing technology available today on mobile devices and in the cloud can do much of the work behind the scenes.

Your job in creating the ultimate digital banking sales experience is to simplify, shorten the process and focus on getting just enough information so the customer is committed to the application. And if the customer does abandon before completing the process, make sure you have enough information to follow up with them and get it finished. Remember – less is always more.