Three easy ways to improve the customer onboarding experience

Onboarding. For companies, a never-ending quest to figure out the best balance between meeting customer expectations and providing a great experience while ensuring that all necessary details are gathered, managed, and stored accurately and securely. Not to mention doing so in a way that can help save employee time and cost.

There are many resources available online today all promising to give companies the best possible onboarding template. The issue is that customer onboarding is unique - companies dealing with cryptocurrency will have different anti-money laundering (AML) / know your customer (KYC) needs than will a bank or an insurance company. But it can often go even beyond industry differences to even distinctly different company needs and requirements.

One thing is certain - successfully onboarding new customers is critical to the continued survival of most businesses. And studies show that they are not impressed with what they have encountered.

Even after the covid-19 pandemic forced companies to rapidly adopt more digital solutions and accelerate their digital transformation plans, a HubSpot survey showed that 90% still believed that companies could improve their digital customer onboarding experience.

Customer needs and expectations are continuing to evolve with the sudden explosion of digital onboarding options in the last 3 years. They have become better acquainted with the current offerings and can easily state preferences about the experience. For example, one result from a ZenDesk survey found that the same percentage (90) of customers stated that they would be willing to invest more in a product for a more personalized onboarding experience. However at the same time, they want to be able to do more themselves.

But these wants raise complications in how many companies can structure and continue to offer digital onboarding in a way that still adheres to business and regulatory requirements while at the same time meeting these seemingly conflicting desires from potential customers.

So how can companies go about upgrading the onboarding experience that they offer customers? Ideally without spending too much along the way and without totally overhauling how their business operates?

While there is no easy, one-size-fits-all answer, there are a few options that companies can take that have shown positive responses from customers and can provide the digital experience for those readily embracing the new options - simultaneously freeing up company support specialists to give that added level of service to customers who still wish to deal with a person.

In this article we delve into three ways that companies can quickly improve their digital customer onboarding experience in ways that won’t have a major impact on the bottom line.

1. Give customers a streamlined onboarding experience

When a potential customer considers initiating the onboarding process, they want to feel reassured in their decision. If they are met with, for example, a website that is less than optimal, or there is no option for digital onboarding, obstacles are already present for them to become a customer.

This means not only making sure that the process itself is clear and uncomplicated, but also that there are no website glitches or issues that would otherwise cause hesitation or doubt about the validity of the site, which can reflect poorly on the company itself.

Providing a clear, secure, consistent digital experience is a major factor in how a company builds digital trust with customers. In onboarding, this means keeping customers in a branded environment, providing clear instructions, making digital form filling in / uploading of documents easy, and giving them the same experience across devices.

Making the experience smooth across devices is perhaps more important than expected. Google reported that 50% of users said that they would leave a mobile site if they did not find it user-friendly.

No matter the device, an onboarding experience that is fast, straightforward, and consistent is a major factor in gaining early customer satisfaction points and making it more likely a customer will continue with the company.

2. Give customers the power with more self-service

Today, we like to be able to handle as much as possible without needing to ask for help or the need to be hand-held through different processes. This overwhelmingly includes onboarding.

While it’s considerably easier from a company perspective to just let customers get themselves set up, it’s also an easy way to create confusion, a misunderstanding about the product or service, or could even put the company at risk.

There are certainly situations in which a certain level of guidance is required - for example on onboarding processes that require AML/KYC measures to be in place in order to meet regulatory compliance requirements.

In these, and let’s be honest, even more simple onboarding processes, in order to provide a self-service experience, there does need to be some guidance in place that gives customers the details they need to onboard effectively while also getting the company the data needed.

Solutions include plug-ins or built-in options such as chat windows or pop-ups that provide a bit more introduction or information through each phase of the onboarding process. Often, these can also give the option of including short videos or links to helpful pages such as FAQs, for example.

Alternatively, there are Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions that make it possible to build an integrated onboarding process custom built to meet the needs of the company and gather all necessary information in a simple, smooth digital experience.

These types of solutions are a simple, fast way to create a better experience that allows customers to take more control of their onboarding. In addition, the right solution will be designed in a way that makes it easy to link with current systems such as Salesforce or other document and data management programs.

3. Make sure the environment is consistent

This point relates back to building digital trust. Building digital trust takes time, but is more important than ever in a world where customers interact with companies more and more in an online environment.

One of the ways a company can encourage digital trust is through a consistent experience - this is where white labeling comes in for the plug-ins or SaaS solution mentioned above. A study by Retail Touchpoints showed that 90% of customers expect a smooth, single channel experience. This means that re-routing them to external sites to verify identity, for example, causes major points deduction in the area of digital trust.

Which is why white label options that allow a company to keep the branding and stay in one place to manage all onboarding options is crucial to building and maintaining that digital trust through a simple and secure experience.

Even complex onboarding procedures, such as those that require Politically Exposed Persons (PEP) and Sanctions list checks, can be done in a way that keeps the customer experience consistent - with the right solution.

+ Show the customer their progress

One easy way to provide a better experience is to show people where they are in the process. People are often impatient and want to know how long an often tedious process such as onboarding will take.

Approximately 14 minutes and 20 seconds is the limit, according to a study by Visa. That’s how long people will spend on an onboarding process before abandoning it completely.

So keeping the process short and sweet is a big help in addition to making it as self-service as possible and brand-consistent. But customers also like to know where they are as they go along. This can take different forms, such as:

  • Letting them know which step out of a total number they’re on (for example: Step 4/10)
  • Giving them a time frame upfront (“This will take an estimated 7 minutes to complete”)
  • Congratulating them on certain steps (for example: giving green check marks for completing the identity verification step)

These examples each provide a sense of achievement as customers go through the onboarding process and can be a big contributor to a better experience.

While there might not be a simple answer to better onboarding, there are some proven ways to make changes that give customers a better experience. Which ones will your company try?