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Treasury and Small-Business Onboarding: Front and Center

Once an afterthought, customer experience is now a focal point for not only banks but also their business and corporate customers. Customers consider it when selecting new bank partners and have higher expectations for it than ever before. Gone are the days when banks could use sophisticated functionality as an excuse for clunky, outdated systems and manual processes. Today’s customers—from consumers to corporate treasurers—are tech-savvy and in a hurry, and they expect the same type of experience whether they are on Amazon.com or their bank’s portal. As a result, when we ask commercial banks about their preferences when it comes to technology enhancements, just as many banks prefer a focus on usability as they do on functionality. Many of those banks see more business banking and treasury services becoming commoditized, and they perceive user experience as a way to differentiate themselves in a competitive market.

Thus, it is not surprising that more than 90% of large banks around the globe currently have some type of onboarding initiative in place. In our most recent user experience study, onboarding ranked first as the initiative currently underway at the largest number of banks. A bank’s onboarding capabilities are often the first impression a customer gets of a bank.

Despite its importance, onboarding is an area in which most banks, regardless of size or geographic location, admit they must improve. Aite Group research has found that more that 80% of large and midsize banks admit that they are either inefficient or not where they want to be when it comes to the number of times business and corporate treasury customers have to provide the same information, the number interactions with bank staff, and the overall level of automation—or lack thereof. Paper and manual processes lead to higher costs, process bottlenecks, errors, and not surprisingly, customer frustration. To the client, repeated requests may come off as the bank being disorganized and uninformed, as it may well be. Aite Group estimates 5% to 15% of new treasury customer applications are abandoned before onboarding is completed. Dollar amounts associated with client abandonment compound over time because the bank loses the opportunity to deepen the relationship and cross-sell other products.

Banks recognize the importance of improving their onboarding capabilities, and fortunately technology has evolved to help banks achieve their goals. Technologies now automate important onboarding functions and help to eliminate manual processes that cause banks and their clients the greatest pain. Some of the enhancements include online project plans and dashboards for greater transparency; greater digitalization for document exchange, information capture, and signature; smart forms that eliminate the need for the same information to be entered over and over; and enhanced workflows. This evolution of technology and bank onboarding initiatives will be covered in greater detail in Delivering the Onboarding Experience Your SMEs and Business Customers Expect, an upcoming webinar Aite Group will be presenting, along with Avoka and leading U.K. banks including Lloyds Banking Group, on March 21st at 15:30 U.K. time.