When we talk about customer onboarding, we are referring to a set of activities that aim to introduce new customers to the services we offer, making them aware of these services and guiding them through all the phases of subscription, configuration, and activation of the services themselves.
Therefore, it is a process that consists of numerous stages and not a single action to be implemented once and for all. Each step of customer onboarding must be planned and carried out in such a way as to involve the customer and provide him with the right support at every stage.
But what does digital onboarding mean?
What do we mean when we talk about digital onboarding?
In recent years, many purchasing processes have been transformed into online transactions, from the purchase of all types of products of all kinds, to the signing of contracts, from the supply of services and insurance contracts to the creation of a new bank account.
Many of the transactions that have now been transformed into digital processes were once only possible in the presence of or with the indispensable support of an operator.
Digital onboarding, therefore, consists of a process that digitizes all of the steps that are necessary to allow a new customer to proceed with the purchase of a product or the activation of a service.
To implement a digital onboarding process, we need to start by looking at each of the steps of the customer relationship and understand how we can best digitize them, ensuring that we always offer the necessary support and make up for the absence of the “human” component, i.e. contact with the operator.
Therefore, we need to be clear about the actions our client will need to take during the digital onboarding journey and at what times; it is useful to be able to anticipate the customer’s needs, so that we can manage them effectively, without being caught unprepared, and even automating the steps where possible. Planning and designing the digital onboarding process at every stage is essential to ensure a successful customer experience.
Touchpoints: What they are and what they are used for
As we have mentioned, a customer onboarding process is composed of several steps, several occasions that allow the customer to come into contact with the company, which are defined as touchpoints.
In a traditional onboarding process, for example for the activation of one’s electricity service, the touchpoints include the office where customers would go to sign the contract, the customer service, the information sent by mail, and the scheduling of appointments with the operators responsible for activating the supply service.
To plan the process of onboarding, we need to accurately analyze each touchpoint in the customer journey in order to provide him with the right information at the right time. In addition, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the message we want to convey to the customer and to define the methods. In fact, if it is true that at each touchpoint we must provide different information, it is equally true that this information must never be contradictory.
The experience conveyed through the touchpoints must be consistent at all times with the message we intend to convey. Not only is it important that the information we convey is uniform, we must also pay attention to how we convey it. In other words, we must also manage the quality of the experience at each touchpoint, to ensure a uniform level of satisfaction throughout the process.
How to digitize touchpoints
Realizing a digital onboarding process, therefore, means digitizing the touchpoints through which the customer experience is articulated.
We can also define this process as the dematerialization of communications between the company and the customer, since the entire onboarding process is redesigned and implemented in order to offer a completely digital and paperless experience, with numerous advantages for all those involved.
Let’s go back to the example we introduced earlier, the activation of an electricity contract, and see how the touchpoints in an onboarding process could be digitized.
Contract acquisition and the dematerialization of the signature process
First, it is certainly possible to digitize the moment the contract is signed, for example, by proposing an electronic signature solution reinforced by an OTP (One Time Password) system. In this way, you avoid the various steps that would require the contract to be printed, as well as the handwritten signature, and the subsequent scanning and sending of the contract by email or PEC to the supplier company.
In addition, don’t forget that the scanned handwritten signature has little legal value in itself, so it cannot provide adequate guarantees of protection in the event of litigation. In a fully digitized scenario, on the other hand, the contract is submitted to the client, for example, in a dedicated area of the firm’s website. The firm’s clients can be assured that they will be able to meet their customers’ needs in a timely manner.
Finally, the contract is automatically acquired by the company, which can then proceed to its digital storage in accordance with the law, so as to protect its integrity and evidentiary effectiveness over time.
A personalized welcome onboarding video
There is another action that could be used to welcome the customer: A welcome video or a personalized onboarding mini-site that provides direction for each step the customer must take in order to activate his contract.
A short video of just a few minutes, that is simple and explanatory, will be sufficient to guide the customer in the next steps. The video can be enriched with interactive links or short tutorials so that the customer can access additional information and assistance, if needed.
The personalized video solution can be used at various stages of the customer journey, such as celebrating service activation. This step can be an excellent opportunity to remind the customer of the channels for contacting the company and customer care, perhaps by setting up ad hoc links and quick links to specific areas of the site, such as the FAQ section.
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Catchy and immediate calls-to-action
It is important to enrich the videos or the mini-site with appropriate calls-to-action, which are clear, immediate, and able to encourage a proactive approach on his part. The call-to-action can be used to guide the customer through the necessary steps to continue with the activation of the service, for example by making an appointment with technicians with just a few clicks.
This solution allows you to set aside the classic customer care managed by telephone and the long waits that can inevitably result, in favor of a more efficient and smart solution.
Digitization of payments
Finally, all that remains is to make a fully digitized, simple, and intuitive payment solution available to the customer. Through a simple API integration, which we have also described here, it is possible to allow the customer to pay for the activation service with their credit card, in just a few steps.
Another solution is to prepare a bill in digitized format, which can be made available on the customer’s personal web area, or to communicate the bill through an innovative video solution, such as the one described in the previous paragraphs. It is also possible to integrate different electronic payment solutions, such as an SDD (Sepa Direct Debit) solution.
…and after that?
Once we have digitized all of the touchpoints that define the early stages of a new client’s digital onboarding, now we end up with:
- a digitally formatted contract, signed with a secure electronic signature solution and ready for legal digital storage;
- A personalized web area and video to convey the information the new customer needs, which allows him to get in contact and provides all of the documents that he may need;
- effective calls-to-action to guide him in any actions to be taken;
- secure and easy-to-use telematic payment solutions.
Is that all? Of course not.
We’re just at the beginning of the journey with our new customer, and it’s time to capitalize on the benefits of digital onboarding, turning it into a long-term relationship and leveraging the potential that the digital solutions introduced make available to us.
For example, at this point, it will be easy to ask the customer’s feedback on their experience, through short personalized and digitized questionnaires that can be proposed at strategic moments, such as after the activation of a related service or following a maintenance intervention.
Why introduce a digital onboarding process?
The right question, it seems to us, is not why, but why not? Rethinking the onboarding process in a digital key, including automated steps where possible, is a strategic element that can lead to high levels of efficiency.
In addition, given the changes we’ve experienced over the past year and the eruption of digital transformation across multiple industries and sectors, it’s highly likely that new customers now expect a fully digital onboarding process, taking it almost for granted.
A digital onboarding process allows you to shorten the waiting time, time that is never pleasant for a customer. On the other hand, it’s easier for the company to monitor a fully digitized workflow and identify any issues or disruptions early on.
In addition, it is much more practical for a client to have a dedicated web area where he can find all the information and documents that he could need, as if in his own personal digital archive. In this way, there is no risk of being overwhelmed by mountains of email, with the risk of not finding the one you need, when you need it.
Similarly, a workflow composed exclusively of electronic documents allows a company to adopt a consistent, all-digital approach to management and preservation, avoiding hybrid solutions that can be invasive.
Digital onboarding doesn’t have to be limited to new customers. Once we have successfully structured our new digital onboarding process, we can look to gradually extend it to all of our customers to deliver a consistent, quality experience.
The Secret to successful digital onboarding
Although queuing at counters and waiting on the phone can be nerve-wracking, for some users it can be difficult to break away from these habits and ease into the new digital world. Some may feel that they are left to their own devices, without any kind of support or assistance.
That’s why we wanted to emphasize the importance of structuring the digital onboarding process right from the start by including solutions that are as simple, intuitive, and user friendly as possible, anticipating the needs and possible questions that the customer may have.
The message to be conveyed is that digital is not a tool that widens the distance between us and the customer. On the contrary, it allows users to have the solution at their fingertips and to choose, with maximum flexibility and according to their needs, how to approach the company, through which channels, and at what times.
In short, the key to the success of digital onboarding lies there: In providing our customers with all the tools they might need and in letting them know that, if they need us, we’re just a click away.
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