May 7, 2020

The 5 key steps to fix your digital customer onboarding

COVID-19 and the measures that have been taken to counteract it have dragged several areas into the spotlight. 

In only a few weeks, remote working, home schooling and social distancing have become everyday topics while many businesses are having to figure out how to acquire and service customers digitally.  And it’s here where Digital Onboarding has gone from a priority at best to a total necessity in no time.

We asked our Digital Onboarding partner Zenoo to provide some tips for our clients on how to boost their onboarding initiatives with 5 pragmatic steps.

  1. Globally, FATF has encouraged the fullest use of responsible digital customer onboarding and delivery of digital financial services in light of social distancing measures.
  2. In the United States, the SBA has struggled to distribute $350B of relief funding as banks are ill prepared to support digital onboarding, resulting in only prime customers - mostly larger companies - getting access to support.
  3. The demand for remote services has grown rapidly, which has provided a huge growth opportunity for banks and fintech companies that are able to onboard customers digitally.


Why are banks ill prepared for the new truth?

Banks throughout the world have been spending years and billions on something called Digital Transformation.  A major part of transforming a bank to be digital is to onboard your clients without the need for the customer to come to a branch.

However, there are very few banks that have solved this challenge, the impact of which you are seeing now.

Those who have completed their onboarding projects - quite often banks that have opted to build their digital onboarding solutions in house - have done so in the belief that onboarding is a bank differentiator and so they should maintain the IP. 

But, as not many developers have been involved in these projects in the past, their best guesses and the inevitable pressure have resulted in the code being built in such a way that is very difficult to change quickly. And this is particularly problematic when government relief programs come about with constantly changing regulation as the ability to instantly adapt is simply non-existant and even banks (and often Fintechs) that have onboarding are ill prepared.

What are the key lessons to be learnt?


The world is unlikely to be the same as it was a few months ago.  

There are countless agencies, consultancies and consultants out there who have starved the industry of billions and years in drawing out digital transformation projects.  

At the same time, most top level management has failed to give transformational projects the necessary backing they need to make them a success and quite often derailed them in the process.

Now that change has been forced upon the industry, digital customer onboarding is no longer a nice to have but a necessity - and those who adopt it first will win.

What are the 5 quick wins to get your project back on track


Get everyone on the same page. 
Invite the following key roles into a workshop: Head of Digital, Head of Product, Senior Developer(s), Senior Risk Person. Ask them to answer four questions: “Why can’t we do this”, “What would you do if you could”, “What should it look like” and “How are we going to do it”.  They need to exit that day with a clear idea of what they are going to do - or ask a different team to do it.


If you are on a failing path - pivot. 
Firstly, the change has to be drastic and impactful. You may have to change your technical approach, your vision, your team or, if you are not a believer, maybe your commitment. Second, the change has to happen quickly, both in decision making and in executing the change of direction. If the change is slow, then it’s not changing enough.


Build vs Buy.
A project should not take longer than 2 months from start to end. If you are taking longer then I would look around for solutions rather than building them. You can run a challenger to build - ask a vendor to do a POC that replicates what you have done - and if they manage it in a short period of time you should assess your choice here.


There is no way you can know what works for your business in theory.  Regardless of how many UX research projects you have run or customer interviews you have conducted, the only way you will know is when it's in production and alive.  Build your MVP (Minimal *VIABLE Product) and use modern analytics solutions to understand how your customers use your product and evolve it based on real use.  


Be Brave.
If you have been overseeing, sponsoring or are in a decision making role you may need to make difficult decisions to get your business back on track.  If you know deep down what the right path is then make the decision to adjust to that path.  If you don’t, it’s likely someone will do it for you soon anyway.


*Viable means your risk managers are happy, you can process the customer applications using at least document verification, sanctions check, impersonation checks, address and bank checks.