by Laura Ryan
The race for customers is at an all-time high. And financial institutions face an unprecedented list of competitors, with increased pressure coming not just from other banks, but also from retail and technology giants like Amazon, Apple and Google — all looking to throw their hats into the financial ring.
So, when it comes to customer acquisition and onboarding, financial institutions must ensure they provide consumers with the same mobile-first, seamless experience they’ve come to expect from each and every product, service and business they encounter. That amounts to a mobile-first, core-integrated account acquisition solution.
The Mobile-First, Customer-Centric Road to Revenue Growth
Financial institutions increasingly seek to not only increase their customer base, but also strengthen relationships with existing customers through cross-sales. So an account acquisition solution must feature both an enrollment site for new accounts as well as integration with a bank’s digital solutions to allow current customers a seamless way to add more products and services. And it must be available any time, via desktop, tablet and mobile device.
And although growing deposits is a huge priority for financial institutions, they must strive to do so in the most cost-efficient manner possible, while still providing that superior, personalized customer experience. Online acquisition tools allow customers to add accounts — sometimes multiple accounts or products in one session — while reducing banks’ costs associated with physical buildings and the employees to staff them.
For example, say a new customer successfully opens a checking account. They’ve used the bank’s secure, online account-opening solution — thereby supplying their personal information and scanning their driver’s license for quick ID verification. They are approved for the account and receive instructions for funding the account. Once the customer is onboarded, the bank can send personalized offers — via the new customer’s channel of choice — for additional solutions or add-ons to products they’ve already selected. This helps meet the customer’s individual needs and provides the best possible experience.
And the bank’s benefits are three-fold as it:
- Educates the customer on its products and services
- Significantly boosts adoption rates
- Reduces the workload on more expensive channels
Best Practices for Mobile-First Account Acquisition and Onboarding
Sometimes, even the most seemingly innovative acquisition tools can fall short of customer expectations. To avoid that, here’s a list of online account-opening best practices, from start to finish:
- Customer Knowledge and Support — Deliver clear and concise knowledge of the products and services you’re offering, and provide guidance about the application process. Customers also should have the ability to ask questions directly from the application tool.
- Data Capture — Require customers to enter their personal information only one time. Your core-integrated account-opening solution should then capture that data for automated input on future applications.
- Identity Verification — Automatically deploy a watchlist check and identity verification using the customer-provided information. And ensure out-of-wallet questions are updated, secure and effective.
- Approval/Follow Up — Provide timely approval of account application, generally within one to two business days. And always follow up in cases of rejection or customer abandonment.
- Disclosures and Regulatory Compliance — Ensure regulatory compliance by providing clear disclosures.
- Account Funding — Provide multiple options to fund the account, including ACH transfers.
- Account Fulfillment — Offer instant account access and, ideally, electronic follow-up rather than paper-based communications.
And Then There are the Solution’s Features
While the above practices positively are a must, they’re just part of the picture. To deliver the complete customer-centric experience, acquisition tools should include a few critical components:
- Channels of Choice: Banking customers have flocked to online and mobile banking platforms, and these digital platforms will only rise in popularity. A successful online account-opening solution must exist in all these channels, giving consumers the option to open an account on their channel of choice.
- A Progress Bar: Customers appreciate clarity, and although it seems simple, a visual icon that shows the customer’s progress through the online application deters abandonment.
- Smartphone Responsiveness: It’s likely that many customers who elect to use an online account-opening application will use a smartphone. Optimizing solutions for smartphone use ensures these customers have the same experience as a desktop or tablet.
- Built-in Compliance and Security: Account-opening regulations are complex, but the basics fall into two categories: knowing who your customers are, and protecting their sensitive data. Here are some features that a modern online account-opening solution should possess to maintain an appropriate level of compliance:
- a. Scanning/validating driver’s license photo
- b. Limiting fraud by email verification
- c. Using customer security questions to authenticate the user
So, will competition from the digital retail giants force financial institutions to shift their business models? Perhaps … but maybe that’s not such a negative thing. Allowing customers to choose how, when and where they bank surely will only strengthen and nurture those lasting relationships. To hear one banker’s firsthand perspective on deploying an online account-opening solution, listen to The Fine Art of Customer Acquisition, an episode of CSI’s podcast, Fintech Focus.
Laura Ryan is product manager for NuFund®, CSI’s online account-opening solution, and holds more than 35 years’ experience in the financial technology industry. During her career with CSI, Laura has been actively involved in the development, management and support of a variety of new account onboarding systems — both in-branch and online.
Part of the BankNews OnPoint Series