Customer experience (or CX for short) is key – and it’s not just about providing a good experience during purchase. It’s also about that holy grail of e-commerce, customer retention.
You’re probably already striving for ways to improve your CX processes and to make things easier and smoother for your customer. But have you thought about your onboarding process?
Digitization now plays a major part in many areas of the CX process, and onboarding is no different. But just what is digital onboarding, and how can you integrate it into your workflow?
What is digital onboarding?
Digital onboarding is where you utilize online tools and software programs to onboard new customers and capture their details in your database and/or customer relationship management (CRM) system. It takes place entirely online and there’s no need for customers to be at a physical location to complete the onboarding process.
The process can be undertaken via your website or app, allowing new customers to sign up from wherever they are located and using the device of their choice. It also allows them to complete the onboarding process when they want to, without pressure from you to complete it within a certain time frame.
What are the benefits of digital onboarding?
The benefits of in-person onboarding are obvious – it gives you time to build a personal connection and means you answer any questions as they arise. However, while digitized onboarding does mean there’s an element of disconnection from the customer, it comes with numerous benefits – and provides a solid foundation that allows you to make more personal connections later.
1. Efficient workflow
Because you are streamlining the onboarding process and allowing your customers to complete the process on their own terms, it means you can continue operations with no interruptions. They can still make their initial purchase and complete the onboarding process once they have received the item or at any point thereafter. You don’t need to worry about scheduling – instead, you can simply act on any relevant information once it’s submitted.
2. Save time and costs
Depending on your business type, onboarding can be a laborious process both for customers and your staff. By automating some or all of the process, you free up your agents to deal with more complex queries, and you make it easier for customers, who can be guided through the process by digital prompts. After all, there are only so many times your staff wants to answer basic questions like ‘what is UCaaS?’ or ‘how do I reset my password?’. Instead, let your app do that for you – you could even work from a ‘new customer’ template that sends out info automatically.
3. Simplify the customer experience
Digitization meets customer needs by providing an easy and customized experience when it comes to onboarding. It places them in control of moving through a sign-up process and they can revisit sections to double-check details or info. A digital system can also provide product-related resources, help tips, information sources and shortcuts to ensure a smooth and helpful experience.
4. Better accuracy and consistency
With digitized onboarding, all your customers will receive an almost identical experience. With in-person onboarding, experiences may differ and, as a result, there are times when accuracy will be lost. If everything is digital and/or automated, then customers are guided through the process and you can include confirmations and checklists to ensure no steps are missed. Receiving all data in exactly the same format will benefit your database too.
Five steps to digitizing your onboarding process
Once you make the decision to digitize your onboarding process, you need a plan on how to implement it. We’ve got five steps you can follow to get started:
1. Automate where possible
Examine your current onboarding process and highlight areas where automation would offer real benefits to your customers (and to you). There are many areas of onboarding where automation can help. This is as true of employee onboarding as customer onboarding too!
Some things you can fully automate as part of your onboarding process includes:
- Customer sign-ups and purchases
- Sending an onboarding survey to gather data on new clients
- Resolving commonly asked questions
- Sharing product information
- Providing access to your knowledge base, ‘how to’ videos, and other helpful aids
- Any required verification processes
For example, with some organizations – especially financial – the identity verification process can be complex and confusing. By automating this stage, you can clear the confusion by making the process intuitive.
You can also automate areas such as sending post-purchase information, or finalizing contracts. Where agreements need to be signed, you can integrate electronic signature software into your onboarding process making it easy for customers to review and then electronically sign any agreements.
2. Integrate all data to auto-fill forms
You will likely already be using some form of CRM system. With larger organizations, the customer may have had some form of previous relationship with you. A good example of this is with banking customers who want to add new loans or credit cards to their account but who still have to undergo an application process.
By ensuring that all new and previous data is integrated into your system, you can help customers move through your system more easily. Where there are previous interactions, web forms can be auto-filled with stored details and the customer just needs to verify that those details are still correct.
3. Make consent and agreement easy
There are many laws and regulations regarding how you use (or don’t use) a customer’s data. Digitizing this part of the process in a clear and transparent manner makes it easy for a customer to understand their rights and your responsibilities. This makes it easier for them to give consent to, or opt out of, certain things such as mailing lists.
A good example of this is if your business is involved in healthcare. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets out clear rules on how your business can use customer information and protects the customer against disclosure of data without their consent. This is another area where electronic signatures can be beneficial so you may want to look at DocuSign pricing. That way, you keep on record what a customer agreed to.
4. Ensure compliance
As we’ve mentioned, there are many laws and regulations regarding how you handle and store customer data. With a digitized onboarding process, you can build in checks and measures that ensure compliance with any regulatory needs at every step of the onboarding process.
By knowing your responsibilities, you can build in ‘information points’ to the overall process to ensure that new customers are informed of every aspect of any regulatory framework they need to know about.
5. Measure and audit
If you are just embarking on the onboarding digitization journey, then you will want to track the effectiveness of any changes to your processes. Having checkpoints and tracking mean you can map the customer’s journey through your onboarding process and see which touchpoints are performing and identify those that need adjustment.
You should identify any key metrics within the onboarding process – for instance, bounce rate or the rate of abandonment at certain stages. You can also ask for feedback at the end of complicated sections or the entire process to see how the experience was for the customer. By measuring effectiveness and auditing your process regularly, you can identify issues and tweak them to achieve a more efficient workflow.
It may well be the case that you don’t want to fully digitize your onboarding process and decide to opt for a hybrid model instead. You should consider what works best for you and for your customers. For example, many businesses still choose forecasting in Excel as they prefer a manual process over the automated functions of inventory management software.
It’s the same idea with onboarding. While digitization offers a wide range of benefits, you may still want to retain some manual aspects, such as identity verification. However, whether you embrace full digitization or go the hybrid route, you will find that not only do you make your workflows more efficient but you also make the customer experience an easier and more pleasant journey.
Different business types have different needs when it comes to onboarding. While an e-commerce business may need only basic details such as age, address, phone number and so on, a financial institution will have more complex needs, especially when it comes to things such as identity verification, proof of income. By digitizing as many steps as you can, you help both you and your customers.