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Reimagining Customer Experience

To fix customer experience, begin with onboarding

Only a truly contextual, fast onboarding journey with five key dimensions can convince a customer that they are important to the bank. The rest is simply confetti.

How long does it take to onboard a brand-new retail banking client? Take a wild guess. Your chances are great, because the answer lies within a surprisingly wide range. Banks today take between 60 seconds and 12 weeks to onboard a new customer.

Take a minute to let that sink in.

Technology exists today to enable customer onboarding in 60 seconds. And yet, according to a Forrester study, there are still institutions – many of them quite large, which depend on a mostly-manual and siloed process of onboarding. Even those institutions with a comprehensive client lifecycle management system take up to six weeks to onboard a customer. The reader will agree that in an age where one can sign up with Netflix in the time it takes to say ‘FOMO’, a weeks-long onboarding process is dangerously out of date.

Onboarding is a problem child

Even as financial institutions up the ante on customer experience, the attention tends to be bottom heavy and focused on customers who are already in the system. This is because onboarding comes with a notorious reputation – it is a ‘high abandonment’ journey.

Customers who begin this journey tend to drop off a little way in. A high degree of friction – much of which is considered necessary – is blamed for this reputation. Too many forms to fill, too much paperwork, multiple systems involved, and it all just takes too much time. Most of all, the customer carries away a feeling that his bank lacks empathy.

What if onboarding was not full of friction? What if it was intuitive, quick and expressed empathy?

5 dimensions of contextual onboarding

With technology that is available and accessible today, here are five dimensions we could incorporate into onboarding to make it an addictive, smooth experience.

  1. Identification – A customer, instead of keying in every detail about himself, can simply type in a National ID number or scan the ID card. With an API to the national database, his details are automatically populated in a mobile form. The system reads text from the scanned image of the ID card. Automated data entry, and a frictionless first step.
  2. A Smile – An activated selfie camera can capture the customer’s image, and machine learning algorithms match the real-time picture with the image registered in the ID card.
  3. Live Conversation – Where e-KYC is not an option, a quick call to the bank’s RM team (any video calling facility like Skype or WhatsApp) enables real-time verification of submitted details. This video call integration too can be easily embedded in the journey.
  4. A Chat – To make the process conversational, a customer can potentially go through the whole journey via a chat bot, that requests the right information at the right time and appraises the customer of progress, live.
  5. Single Interface – Most importantly, all of these dimensions – national database integration, live video, chatbot, are all part of one single interface with the bank.
A Primer on Contextual Banking

If we want to fix customer experience, we must start with onboarding. If we lose a customer at the door, all the delights inside have no pull over him. As the five dimensions illustrate, the ideal onboarding experience is not about colour or aesthetic finesse. It is about making the journey truly contextual, about recognising the need of the customer – for speed and convenience – and providing it in a simple, intuitive manner.

If an award-winning (Celent's XCelent Functionality Award) 5D Digital Onboarding excites you, let’s have a larger conversation. Write to us here –

Author :

Padmani Koteeswaran
Product Head,
Retail Channels


With over 16 years of techno-functional experience in BFSI spanning engineering, implementation, product and presales, Padmani brings a wide repertoire of skills in core banking as well as channel banking. She now drives contextual digital banking at Intellect.

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