Improving Banking Customer Experience Through the Application and Onboarding Process

pagesy – Person

Generally, the most laborious part of a customer’s relationship with their financial institution is the application and onboarding process. Filling out lengthy forms, answering difficult questions, searching for long-lost documents, and signing each piece of paper multiple times can lead to terrible experiences and high application attrition (or abandonment) rates. At Temenos, we are focused on streamlining onboarding experiences so that you and your customers can focus on the relationship and outcomes rather than the application process. In our new video, we highlight how you can provide a seamless account opening experience that only takes 90 seconds including funding.

Below, we outline 4 opportunities financial institutions have to improve their customer experience during this critical phase of the customer journey.

1) Move From Business-Centered to Human-Centered

The first questions to ask yourself when designing an onboarding experience are:

  • Why is my customer applying for this banking product?
  • What goals do they have?
  • What needs do they have?
  • How do I make this EASY for them?

The answer to these questions will impact your presentation as well as the content you put on the application pages. It’s also important to think about what questions your customers are asking like:

  • How long is this going to take?
  • What information will I need?
  • What if I get stuck?
  • What if I run out of time?
  • Will my sensitive information be protected?

These questions are a way to plan an onboarding experience. For example, if your customers are confused or intimidated by how long the application process might take, adding a note about where they are in the process (for example: “Step 1 of 4”) can help ease that anxiety. If they are concerned about getting stuck and trying to pick the application back up on another device, provide information about how to save their progress, and then continue the application across devices.  

2) Solicit Direct Customer Feedback

Data analysis can only go so far when providing insight into human behavior. At some point, it can be more helpful to solicit feedback directly from customers in the form of a survey or even dedicated user testing. Questions to ask in the survey, or observe during user testing, are:

  • Where are customers getting hung up in the application process?
  • Are customers getting confused about a certain question or information request?
  • Are they spending too much time on certain fields?

The answers to these questions, combined with data analysis, can be extremely useful when iterating on your onboarding experience. Remember, you should constantly be changing and updating your experiences depending on how your customers are behaving—the application process is not a “set it and forget it” system. eCommerce providers continually iterate on their Shopping Cart and Checkout experiences to optimize conversion rates… you should too.

3) Minimize Customer Effort

Lowering the effort required to complete an application or transaction is directly linked to higher completion rates, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty levels. This can come in many different forms—and it starts with understanding what effort customers are exerting for different requests. These can be categorized in 3 main ways:

Low Effort: Do they know the information off the top of their heads, like birthday or Social Security number?

Medium Effort: Do they need to look it up, but it’s easily accessible? Or do they have the information, but it will take a while to write it all out in the application? Examples could be a driver’s license number or work history.

High Effort: Do they need to search for it, such as retrieve it from a filing cabinet or online storage? This can include tax returns or paystubs.

For example, asking a customer for their work history might be considered a “medium effort” question since your customer likely knows the information, but it will take a bit of time to enter or remind them which title they had at which company. A solution for that question might be creating integration with LinkedIn where all they need to do is login and their work history is pulled automatically.

Another way to reduce effort is by understanding exactly what information is required to move forward with an application or onboarding and save the rest for later. Asking easier questions first helps get the process started and allows you to ask more difficult lessons further along in the process once they’ve already become invested. Big barriers to entry at the beginning of the application process can yield high abandonment rates that will ultimately affect your institution’s customer acquisition targets.

4) Improve Your Customer Onboarding Experience

When thinking about acquiring a new customer – look at the end-to-end experience.

  • Does your marketing align with the application process?
  • Are you designing from the perspective of the customer?
  • Did you review the design with non-bank staff (bankers know too much about banking to provide constructive feedback)?
  • Have you made it clear, “what happens next”?
  • Have you designed an experience that supports instant gratification – account opened, card issued, loan approved?

If you’re trying to benchmark your experience to determine if you’re doing well / not so well – we offer some indicative benchmarks for retail banking. Completion Rates for started applications for new banking products should be between 50% and 70%. If you are below this rate, there’s remove for improvement.

If you are struggling to reduce application abandonment and improve your overall onboarding process, watch our video or contact us today to learn how we can help!


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pagesy – Person