Historically, customer onboarding has been a manual and slow process; the massive opportunity cost in spending an inordinate amount of time in obtaining information, requesting documents, gathering paperwork, going back-and-forth with the customer etc. also made it very costly. The frustrating effects of such drawn-out processes also led to early churn or customers abandoning accounts during the onboarding process itself.
Over the years, with the widespread adoption of the internet, all manner of products, solutions and services have become ubiquitously available over a range of devices – indeed, never has it been easier for a customer to find a product or service to solve a problem. In this new digital environment, customers are conducting an increasingly large portion of both their business and private transactions online; and, so, it follows that their patience for the time-consuming nature of traditional onboarding processes is waning.
Thankfully, many companies have already tapped into these needs; customer onboarding automation involves leveraging tools that automate the collection and verification of the customer’s identity information to enable them to join new platforms and services as quickly as they can click or swipe.
Today, product managers, developers and, in general, technologists, play a central role in customer onboarding automation. Indeed, it is incumbent on developers to turn customer onboarding automation from a buzzword into a process that actually works and enhances the customer experience. Historically, however, developers have restricted their focus to the core product, with customer onboarding automation being just an afterthought. The other reason behind developers’ reluctance to engage with customer onboarding is because the process is oftentimes intertwined with compliance-related considerations such as customer due diligence (CDD), which clearly isn’t their forte – this particular factor acquires even more significance when it comes to obliged entities such as payment processors, traditional financial institutions (FIs) and online marketplaces, which are heavily regulated.
This post will attempt to address the aforementioned constraints and equip developers with a better understanding of customer onboarding automation.
Audit; then, automate
Doing an audit of the existing customer onboarding process helps in identifying problems; once these problems are revealed, opportunities to utilize automation in order to solve these problems and improve the workflow can be identified. At this stage, the application of automation can have incremental improvements; alternatively, this audit can also present bigger opportunities – critically assessing the initial contact stage can help in rethinking the existing workflow altogether. Developers must remember that automation can amount to more than just the streamlining of existing procedures – it can be a rare option to rebuild the system from scratch.
Both the audit, and any plans to revamp the customer onboarding processes, however, must have the buy-in of various teams – whether that’s compliance, customer success, or sales. This not only helps get stakeholders onboard with the project, but also ensures a smooth and organized roll-out.
Use APIs to place fewer demands on your customer
The success of any customer onboarding process hinges on many factors. But here are two factors where developers can offer the most value: (1) How quickly, easily and accurately can you obtain enough information about a customer that you can begin to serve them? (2) How quickly, easily and accurately can you help compliance perform the level of customer due diligence that meets their confidence?
The answers to both (1) and (2) can be vastly improved by the use of application programming interfaces (APIs). Let’s try to understand how:
When it comes to collecting information from the customer, the number of “asks”, as well as their nature, depends on, among other things, the service or product that the customer is singing up for, as also the regulations that apply in the specific case. But more asks mean more steps, and more steps tend to place demands on the customer’s patience.
Can these asks, therefore, be consolidated to minimize the burden on the potential customer? Can the automated collection of information from other sources assist in building up the necessary profile?
This is where APIs play such an instrumental role. In this era of massive data sets, the API makes it easy to connect to the right service or library for almost imaginable need. Leveraging multiple APIs on the backend can provide all the information requirements without complex forms and a bothersome sign up.
Look for the API of APIs
One of the main goals of automation is to simplify processes. Perhaps one day, sign-up will only require one tap from the customer; all the necessary data will be accessible from identity, payment and other APIs that simply require the correct permission.
This same drive towards simplification should also consider the developer. It’s one thing to connect one API, but connecting hundreds of APIs safely and securely poses its own set of problems. Beyond technical considerations, there are also contractual and compliance factors that need investigation and agreement as it takes time to find and vet any service that is connecting to critical systems.
A better alternative is connecting to an API of APIs – one API that already successfully connects to numerous libraries and services. Finding one API – to trust, to work with, and to count on - simplifies the customer onboarding process exponentially.
Consider GlobalGateway, Trulioo’s online identity verification platform, which provides secure access to over 400 data sources across the world. With GlobalGateway, our clients no longer need to sign multiple contracts and build multiple API with multiple parties; instead, GlobalGateway lets our clients use a single contract and API to securely access to data from multiple data partners.