Thought Leadership

Up Your Onboarding Game for True Customer Loyalty

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August 22, 2018
Up Your Onboarding Game for True Customer Loyalty
By Bryan Adler

When was the last time you experienced your bank or credit union as a customer? Give it a try. The experience may help identify some gaps or opportunities in your onboarding process.

Your financial institution’s onboarding experience, the first 90 to 120 days of opening a new account, sets the tone and expectations for the banking relationship. First impressions set the tone for the rest of the banking relationship. When onboarding is excellent, customers will be more excited about engaging with your financial institution in the future and using more of its products. If you want a deeper, more profitable long-term relationship, you cannot afford to take existing customers for granted, so create multiple touch points by creating a simple yet exciting onboarding process.

The first-year customer attrition rate at the top 100 banks averages about 20%-40%, according to The Financial Brand. Most customers jump ship because they either don’t see the value in banking at a particular financial institution or what was promised when they joined simply didn’t align in terms of consistent execution.

Digital technology advances have made it easier to focus on building relationships. Customers should be able to engage with your bank or credit union across every channel. If they start a loan application on their phone, they should be able to pick up where they left off when they get home to their tablet or laptop. The banking experience must be seamless, personalized and convenient.

Ideally it should be intuitive, so if you are asking your customer to take a step then make sure it’s relevant. Have you streamlined processes and communication based on your customers’ needs or the needs of the back office? How many steps are really needed? If you are touting instant loan approval, can the entire process be completed digitally or are you still requiring customers to come into a branch to physically sign a document? Your bank’s leaders must have clear understanding of the user workflow. You want customers to demonstrate to consumers how easy it is to do business with your bank or credit union. Activate at the point of excitement!

According to the 2018 J.D. Power Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, digital only banking customers have grown to 28%, but they are the least happy with their banking relationships. The lower satisfaction scores were driven by three factors: communication and advice, products and fees and new account opening.

Your financial institution has a wonderful opportunity now to use your technology wisely to differentiate from your competitors. For example, the study suggested sending a simple thank you text or phone call right after the customer opens an account makes the greatest impression and results in high customer satisfaction scores. In fact, the more communication the better; as the number of contacts are increased seven or more times, customer satisfaction and cross-sell success increases.

The key is delivering needs-based messages grounded in data from all your institution’s various sources to build trust through highly personalized communication.

Last year, Umpqua Bank, known for its sense of community, rolled out its Best Financial Friend, or BFF, pilot, which uses technology to get closer to customers. Knowing its customers better allows Umpqua to respond immediately to customer questions with advice about a financial matter such as investments and marketing. This is the activation at the point of excitement we talk about at Vetter.

Part of the bank’s human + digital strategy, renamed Umpqua Go-To, the mobile app is a private banker in your pocket – not an AI virtual model but actual employees. What a unique way to connect employees and customers while addressing the digital divide!

Customers can review banker profiles and choose the personal banker with whom they want to work. Customers can contact their personal banker via voice, video or chat from anywhere at any time. Any interaction they can do at a branch, they can do on the phone with their banker.

A mix of data and analytics prioritizes customer inquiries. Artificial intelligence handles transactional and predictable customer questions like account balances, deposits or withdrawals made. Data and insights gathered from BFF conversations and AI help Umpqua reinforce onboarding, deepen customer relationships and give the bank the opportunity to activate at the point of excitement!

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