Javelin Strategy and Research report issued today, many banks are not leveraging the insight available early in a new relationship to develop customized offers and to utilize preferred channels of communication. In their study entitled, 2010 New Account Onboarding: Using a Systematic, Tactical Approach to Deepen Financial Customer Relationships, the importance of collecting key pieces of information such as age, income and the customer's previous banking experience is emphasized. With this baseline insight, Javelin proposes that communication channel determination and messaging can be improved, thereby leading to improved engagement, retention and cross-sell results.
The findings in the robust 44 page study are a refinement of a previous Javelin onboarding study from 1997 and are consistent with what I have found visiting and speaking with banks across the country. In fact, two of my clients (Zions Bank and KeyBank) are referenced in the study.
Both banks initially communicate with all new account openers, focusing on the engagement process, with an emphasis on online banking and bill pay, debit card utilization, direct deposit and more recently autosave and overdraft protection (in response to Reg. E). In addition, both banks leverage multiple channels for communication, including email, direct mail and either centralized or branch-based phone calling. At both institutions, segmentation of the customer base and the process of customized messaging and cross-selling is done after the more overarching process of getting the customer familiar with and engaged with their service. The collection of transaction history provides the foundation for leveraging propensity models to drive cross-selling later in the relationship.
While the Javelin study (which was based on research collected online) indicates that consumers prefer to receive email communication regarding their new account, research done with the majority of my clients show that results are enhanced when multiple communication channels are utilized (even for online account openers). These findings are not inconsistent, but reflect the online banking focus of the Javelin research. In fact, by leveraging personalized jump pages, online banking messaging, help/switch lines and even statement messaging and inserts, results can be further enhanced.
Additional recommendations from the Javelin research include establishing a paperless relationship at account opening and during onboarding (many banks I work with are building marketing programs around this objective) and collecting mobile phone numbers.
In conversations with Mark Schwanhausser, Senior Multi-Channel Financial Service Analyst for Javelin in the development of this report, he found it amazing that banks were not focusing on the collection of mobile numbers as part of the account opening process due to the significant number of households making their mobile phone their primary communication media and the increasing preference of data distribution via mobile channels (alerts). The collection of email addresses should also be a required component of the new account opening process even though many banks still do not leverage this channel effectively.
While an emphasis on a strong onboarding/welcome process seems to be universal throughout the industry, there are dozens, if not hundreds of ways to implement such as process when you take into account messaging, timing, channels, target audiences, etc. I am interested in onboarding success stories and additional insights you can share. Feel free to leave a comment or learnings on my blog.