In our last blog, we talked about the long vendor approval process that most financial institutions use, its ramifications, and possible solutions. This time, we thought we’d flip the switch and look at the customer onboarding process that a lot of enterprise tech companies use. Though not as arduous as the vendor approval process, customer onboarding can be a pain in the neck too. This is, unfortunately, not just something we’ve experienced. Apparently, it is a common problem seen across the board too. A whopping 90% of customers have frustrating onboarding experiences and think that companies can improve this process significantly.
The current state of affairs
For a lot of enterprise organizations, onboarding a new user can take anywhere between 3 to 9 months. We've found this to be the case even with companies that have a one-size-fits-all model with existing APIs that don't need customization. That’s a lot of time to just sit around, twiddling your thumbs, waiting for things to fall into place. This is especially true if you are a small business owner with limited resources who can ill afford to hold up your business operations for that long. And when the process goes on with no end in sight, it can leave users frustrated enough to want to jump ship altogether. Around 75% of consumers say that they will change companies if they find the purchasing process too laborious. If money and contracts were not a factor, the same would probably be true of the onboarding process too.
Too many moving parts, not enough coordination
This is not to say that the onboarding process is unnecessary. Adding a new user brings with it additional layers of operational, data security, compliance, and regulatory risks. These additional risks are monitored and managed during onboarding, making it a pivotal step in client management. The problem here is that the exercise consists of too many moving parts and players. So, you are constantly being passed from department to department. The sales team sends you to the technical team, who then bunt you to the legal department. From there, you’re shunted to the compliance team, who send you back to the technical team to start the cycle all over again (the ominous lyrics of the song Hotel California come to mind here – ‘You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave’!).
In addition, when manual methodologies abound, the process is doubly time-consuming and error-prone. According to a report by Infosys, it can sometimes take organizations up to 7 months to onboard a new customer if the process is a manual one! There’s no doubt then that the current state of affairs can and should improve.
A better way to go about it - A few tips for quicker onboarding
The customer onboarding stage can often prove to be the difference between an ongoing, long-term relationship or a one-time interaction with your clients. After all, as the saying goes, ‘you never get a second chance at making a first impression’ and onboarding is your company’s first opportunity to do just that. The good news is that it can be done! An agile onboarding process that speeds things up while still ensuring optimum risk mitigation is very much possible. Here are a few things to keep in mind while developing it:
1. Have a customer-focused outlook
Companies rightly put a lot of time and effort into securing customers during the sales cycle. Sadly, oftentimes, all that customer-focused energy vanishes into thin air once a client signs on the dotted line. Given that client-focused businesses are 60% more profitable than those that are not, this is a bad trope to follow. Having a client-centric outlook during the onboarding process will ensure that clear communication and responsiveness are a given during every step of customer management and not just during the sales cycle. It will also go a long way in getting rid of the red tape and lackadaisical attitude that plagues the onboarding process so much.
2. Embrace automation
Most vendor onboarding methodologies have multiple repetitive processes in them. This makes them ripe for automation. Thankfully, there are plenty of platforms out there that take care of mundane and time-consuming activities such as data collection and data entry. Companies can also set up these systems to automate approvals based on their risk thresholds. This can greatly speed up and streamline the whole operation as well as rid the process of possible human errors.
3. Develop a centralized, agile system
A major cause for delay is the waterfall approach that most enterprise institutions take to onboarding. Here, different departments complete the process in stages. Each stage is completely dependent on information received from previous stages and can only start when the preceding phase has been completed. With this stop-start methodology, the entire process can stall if one department is unsatisfied or simply inefficient. On the other hand, developing a centralized, agile system where different departments can review customers concurrently will eat up less time. In addition, agile systems also allow you to easily customize the onboarding experience so that it meets each customer’s unique needs.
Our methodology – How TRaiCE onboards clients
In a previous post, we’ve talked about our PoV methodology and how we go into every pilot with the aim of proving value conclusively and speedily. That is our goal with the customer onboarding process too. We aim to reinforce the point that TRaiCE can add value to your organization and solve your risk monitoring needs within 4 – 8 weeks of onboarding. To that end, we have an iteratively designed onboarding process in place with 4 major checkpoints. These keep us singularly focused on our end goal of bringing tangible benefits to the table.
The infrastructure and processes we’ve put in place ensure, what we believe, is a streamlined onboarding process characterized by clear communication and transparency. We don’t believe in doing a dog-and-pony show that reels you in only to leave you disappointed. Our aim is to walk the talk by putting our customer’s needs front and center before and after they sign the contract. For more details, you can read our PoV blog here.
Conclusion - Relearn the art of collaboration
Customer onboarding should not be a burdensome exercise for your client; one where they are doing all the running and heavy lifting. On the contrary, it should be a smooth ride that sets a positive tone for things to come. Similarly, transparency, clear communication, and responsiveness should not be the domain of small businesses alone. Bigger companies now need to relearn the art of collaboration. Only then can they truly justify their billing as big-ticket service providers and repay the faith their customers have put in them.