The Role of Follow-Through in Loyalty-Building Onboarding

Adam Craig June 23rd, 2017
Customer Onboarding

We love our jargon in the banking industry, and financial institutions today have managed to expand Eddie’s simple six-word formula for success into multiple layers of terminology, seasoned with plenty of technology. We talk about creating an ideal “customer journey,” “data-driven insights” to drive “segmentation” and “build brand loyalty,” as well as the importance of “onboarding.” At the heart of that all is follow-through.

“I can give you a six-word formula for success: Think things through, then follow through.” — Eddie Rickenbacker, World War I fighting ace and Medal of Honor recipient

What does good follow-through look like?

What happens when your bank fails to follow up with prospects or new customers? You send a message to customers that their business isn’t important to you. It’s an especially negative experience if customers have already expressed an interest in your financial institution or one of its products or services. They are waiting to give you their business, but if you fail to follow up with them — if the onboarding process falters — they’ll assume you don’t want their business and take it elsewhere.

In any business situation in any industry, the basics of good follow-through are the same:

  • Timely
  • Relevant
  • Valuable
  • Personal

Communication that is consistent but not overbearing, offers that are timely and relevant, speedy responses and resolution to customer issues, and branch experience that makes customers feel valued — these are the hallmarks of great follow-through in the banking industry. Is your onboarding process fulfilling the purpose of follow-through, and helping move new customers toward products and services they’ve expressed an interest in? Are you helping them discover products and services they need before they even realize they should be looking for them?

Bank customers will rarely tell you what they need, want or don’t want, but you have data that can answer those questions for you.

Data drives good follow-through

Across every interaction your financial institution has with customers, data can drive the kind of follow-through that delivers a great customer experience and builds customer loyalty.

  • A customer who views investment products on your financial institution’s website should receive a contact from an investment professional at the bank. Data on the customer’s current banking and spending habits can help the professional formulate a communication plan that includes products and services to be discussed.
  • When an investment client checks his portfolio’s performance through online portals, an adviser can reach out to him via email or phone to see if he’s interested in a portfolio review and strategizing session.
  • Customers and prospects who access mortgage information through a financial institution’s website should be contacted by a mortgage officer to discuss options. After an initial preapproval discussion, the loan officer can use the customer’s preferred channel — email, text or phone — to stay in touch as their home search progresses.
  • New account holders who opened their accounts either online or in a branch may welcome information on account features and advantages of banking with your financial institution. Reaching out to them through their preferred channel can help deepen the new relationship.

Good follow-through equals great onboarding

No phase of the bank-customer relationship is more fraught with peril or rife with opportunity than the honeymoon phase — when effective onboarding is vital. Good follow-through can help create a great onboarding experience for new customers, and enhance opportunities to cross-sell as the relationship matures.

Yet the numbers point to the industry’s uneven success with onboarding. After account opening, 11 percent of new accounts fall inactive, according to research by Javelin Strategy & Research commissioned by Deluxe. Among account holders who remain active with their new FIs, 27 percent wait two years or longer to open an additional account, according to a study by Synergistics Research Corp.

What does effective follow-through look like in the critical onboarding phase?

Since most customers start out a bank relationship by opening a checking account, follow-through at the onboarding stage needs to include communication to help them determine the best checking product for their needs. Customer data gathered during the account initiation phase can guide communications. Plus, don’t forget to ask the customer their preferred method and frequency in terms of receiving communications.

Multiple studies tell us that customers find switching to be a labor-intensive process, so your follow-through should include helping them complete the most challenging aspects of switching, such as shifting auto payments and direct deposits, and setting up online bill pay. Once you’ve accomplished this checklist, you’ll have even more data to help you better predict products and services that may be of interest to the new customer as the relationship grows.

Effective follow-through and onboarding requires you to use data wisely, communicate meaningfully and deliver consistently excellent customer service.

“It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.” — Zig Ziglar, author, sales expert and motivational speaker

This content is accurate at the time of publication and may not be updated.