3 Key Principles for Creating an Effective Client Onboarding Experience

October 22, 2019

5 minute read

GDPR One Year Later: How Are Enterprises Faring

GDPR One Year Later: How Are Enterprises Faring

You never get a second chance to make a great first impression. For financial service organizations struggling to compete with new digital-born competitors, this old maxim couldn’t ring truer.

As born-digital firms gain a foothold on the industry—and customers demand faster, better service on all fronts—financial service organizations are intent on setting a positive tone from initial outreach to account open and beyond.

When it comes to client onboarding, however, customer expectations and reality tell two different stories altogether. How can banking and insurance organizations better understand and deliver on shifting customer expectations? Keep reading to understand what’s driving customer expectations and learn the three fundamental principles for creating a world-class client onboarding experience.

Client Onboarding: Expectation vs. Reality

If you’ve recently signed on for a new banking or insurance product/service, then the slog of filling out countless forms and entering the same information over and over again might sound familiar. The traditional client onboarding process is directly at odds with the needs and expectations of today’s consumers, who, due to the proliferation of on-demand mobile services—whether it’s ride sharing, meal delivery, or even life insurance—want it fast and want it without friction. Are today’s consumers demanding? By all accounts, many would say yes.

A little over a year since GDPR was introduced, the first of the big fines have hit.

A little over a year since GDPR was introduced, the first of the big fines have hit.

Regrettably, banking and insurance organizations are falling short of delivering the seamless client onboarding experience that customers expect.

  • 38% of would-be customers drop out of the onboarding process because of the frustration with paper or the volume of information required2.
  • From outreach to account open, it could take days or weeks to complete the onboarding process.
  • To add insult to injury, many new customers are sent generic product/service offers that are completely irrelevant.

There’s no question that looking under the hood of your organization’s client onboarding processes can prove a fruitful and profitable endeavour.

Companies that get client onboarding right are richly rewarded with improved customer loyalty and lower operational costs. Brands that take steps to improve the customer experience also stand to increase revenue by 10-15 percent and reduce costs by 15-20 percent.3

Speed, Personalization & Security: The Holy Trifecta of Client Onboarding

To close the loop on customer expectations and the current reality of your organization’s client onboarding experience, you must take steps to bring speed, personalization, and security to every facet of the client onboarding process.

1. Speed

Many financial institutions and insurance companies work at a snail’s pace relative to what their clients expect. Follow-up questions, documentation validation, and requests for additional information create further delays and frustration. Reviewing and approving applicant data—and issuing, completing, and storing reams of paperwork—happens at a glacial stride. But as the statistics above show, a failure to make the customer onboarding process fast and efficient means that many clients will simply take their business elsewhere. Speed and simplicity are key components of a winning client onboarding experience.

2. Personalization

Whether it’s understanding their current needs or anticipating future goals, most consumers expect personalization as a standard of service. And yet many complain that their providers don’t know them well enough: Most organizations treat long-time clients like net-new customers by delivering offers for products or services the customer already holds. When clients do wish to upgrade, they’re required to complete paperwork and applications that ask for information they have already provided.

The type of data you collect at the outset—and what you do with it—dictates your ability to provide the seamless service that shows customers you understand their needs implicitly. Businesses must think beyond the type of data they collect during the onboarding process and ensure that customer data is unified and securely accessible to relevant teams across the organization.

3. Security

Consumers are more concerned about data security than ever, and for good reason: Data breaches are increasingly prevalent, and the sensitive information that banks and insurance companies hold can put customers at risk for identity theft and other losses. At the same time, highly sensitive information such as social security numbers are often required during onboarding.

There is no greater opportunity than during the earliest stages of the client relationship to get security right. Instead of allowing sensitive data to get lost deep within customer files, it’s important at the outset—right at the time of collection—to take steps to contain Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Onboarding is also a great opportunity to set the foundation for trust with new customers. As you solicit sensitive information, you can provide clear information detailing how that data will be stored, utilized, and protected.

Take-Home Lessons

A great client onboarding experience sets the tone for the entire customer relationship, and not getting it right can put banks and insurance organizations at a serious strategic disadvantage. To win loyal customers, banks and insurers must leverage an end-to-end data enrichment solution that automates the discovery, classification and extraction of vital data from complex documents. By reducing manual intervention, accelerating document-centric workflows, and bringing a greater level of agility to customer-facing processes, banks and insurers can onboard customers with speed, security, and personalization.

Next in the Series:

Now that you understand the key requirements of delivering a winning customer onboarding experience, be sure to read our next blog in the series (Client Onboarding Checklist: How Banks & Insurance Companies Can Turn Expectations into Reality) for practical steps you can take to meet customer expectations.


1Adlib Software, How Important is Customer Onboarding for Banking and Insurance Customers? (SurveyMonkey: 2019)
2Deloitte: Digital Onboarding for Financial Services: A Must-Have for Digital Natives
3McKinsey & Company: Best of both worlds: Customer experience for more revenues and lower costs

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