When does onboarding actually end?
Business onboarding is too often dangerously viewed as a one-time procedure at the beginning of the customer lifecycle. Often perceived solely as a means to register prospective customers and introduce them to your product, the true end-point and widespread impact of onboarding is often overlooked. As a result, the onboarding process can frequently be slow, frustrating and cause friction among all the parties involved. The importance of smooth onboarding cannot be overstated, particularly when inefficient onboarding results in customer churn and obstructs revenue.
Business onboarding extends well beyond the initial sign up experience. It should influence the compliance review that takes place by providing a framework for the analysts to work off. The system in palace should also be an intelligent tool that works to improve both your customers’ and your compliance teams’ experience by automating and streamlining the front-end and seamlessly integrating into existing systems to reduce the internal manual workload.
The sign up form - A Traditional Onboarding Process
To understand how onboarding can be improved first the traditional standalone process needs to be outlined. The main components that make up the onboarding process vary a lot between different industries and the size of the company but they all tend to have three major steps:
- Onboarding Form/Webflow - A simple webflow or document is sent over to the client. Information is entered manually often during a long and tedious process. The systems tend to be unfit for purpose and collect information which isn’t even necessary.
At Detected we’ve seen unbranded documents that are over 30 pages long with multiple questions that don’t even relate to the company completing the onboarding. Likewise we’ve noticed online onboarding flows that require repeated data entry, have little automation and don’t have the functionality to return to the flow at a later stage; meaning the user either completes the flow in one sitting, starts again or gives up and churns.
- Documents - The user is then required to send over copies of certain documents including bank statements, utility bills and proof of incorporation. This is often done over email or is sometimes integrated into the online flow. In rare cases people still request physical versions of the documents!
When we initially talk to prospects they often cite document uploads as a source of frustration. There is a lot of unnecessary internal communication, clients become unresponsive and documents get misplaced. Furthermore we’ve seen that poorly implemented online upload systems result in the company reaching out to the customer via email anyway.
- ID Verification - Finally, you need to verify the user behind the application. This process normally involves the user scanning an official ID document and then their face. These are compared for likeness and a result provided. This is an important step as it confirms that the business owner or representative is genuinely who they say they are.
From our experience, we tend to see a lot of variation during the ID verification stage. Better onboarding flows have ID providers integrated into them but we’ve also observed cases where just a photocopy of their ID document is requested - which is definitely not sufficient!
When does onboarding actually end? - Compliance
After those steps are completed the onboarding process is normally deemed finished. However, this is short-sighted and a good onboarding flow can form the basis for the compliance review that then takes place.
Compliance teams will have traditionally had limited information to work on about the prospective client. Some generic information will be obtained from the onboarding process but it may not be relevant and will likely need to be duplicated into the proper framework or system of review. As a result the compliance teams are often left completing tick box exercises and repeating highly manual, time consuming and mundane tasks. This can include checking maps for office locations, searching adverse media keywords into search engines and checking for directors on social media. This builds a more complete picture of the company and once completed, the final verdict can be made.
However, compliance reviews should be a highly analytical procedure where analysts are enabled by their tools to make important decisions. The most up-to-date and relevant information should be collected automatically while costly and time consuming manual tasks should be eliminated. This is where good onboarding can have an impact. Integrations to data sources, tailored onboarding flows to collect the necessary data and a back-end dashboard that populates company profiles with the information gathered all reduces the compliance team’s manual workload.
When does onboarding actually end? - Ongoing Monitoring
After the client is approved the process still continues. They need to be reviewed frequently to ensure they are still compliant. This is called ongoing monitoring, but it is not to be confused with continuous monitoring:
Ongoing monitoring is the process of periodically reviewing your current clients at a predetermined cadence. This includes requesting further documents, completing ID verifications again and signing new policies. This can also include refreshing data sources and re-running screenings. This is similar to you clicking ‘trust this device for 30 days’ when logging into an account - it’s a monthly ongoing check that it is still you logging in.
Continuous monitoring is a tool/feature that can be used during ongoing monitoring. It is normally associated with refreshing company credentials or company/individual adverse media and other screenings. Adverse media is negative news linked to the company or individuals. Other screenings include checking for company wide sanctions or for any politically exposed persons (PEPs) associated with the business. Continuous monitoring provides instant alerts of these surfacing to the compliance team.
Onboarding can also impact the ongoing monitoring process. If an active client needs to send in further documents then instead of requesting them via email they could be requested over the original onboarding platform. It could be argued that sending one email isn’t hard; but this isn’t a scalable solution when managing multiple clients and onboarding new ones. The onboarding platform can also be integrated with an adverse media provider so that data can be refreshed at your required cadence whether that’s once a year or using continuous monitoring. Analysts benefit hugely; they are alerted of any changes or know that it’s business as usual.
Fast, safe and intelligent onboarding - How can you improve your onboarding processes to be more than just a form?
We’re going to look into three areas that can improve an existing onboarding flow: The level of customisation, the available integrations and the metrics used to record success. Within each of these areas the improvements suggested will be based on three factors:
- Speed - How can the process be made quicker for both the customer and the analyst
- Safety - How can risk be reduced
- Intelligence - How the user experience can be improved and the process automated.
Speed - Simple improvements such as asking relevant questions to the specific customer can increase how quickly they move through the process. This can be achieved through pre-configured and customised flows that depend on the onboarding customer’s country, business type or any distinction and compliance requirements you require.
Safety - Customisable onboarding flows, rather than one generic form, allow for higher levels of specificity. Bad actors can be uncovered easier when they can’t provide the same level of detail to a specific question that a genuine business owner can.
Intelligence - By balancing the known data availability with what is required from the customer the onboarding process can be automated and streamlined. The user’s experience is improved as they aren’t wasting time filling in easily obtainable information.
Speed - Earlier in the article we outlined three main steps of a traditional onboarding flow. By integrating a document upload facility, ID verifications and other steps into the same flow a user will reduce their onboarding time.
Safety - An integrated system can access multiple data sources including financial information, group structures and online presence. The more relevant information gathered, the easier it is for the compliance analysts to review.
Intelligence - The two previous improvements also directly increase automation and reduce the manual workload required. Furthermore, integrations to CRMs can provide visibility to sales teams and reduce manual data re-entry.
Speed - Implementing metrics such as onboarding time, time-to-revenue and number of sessions indicate how fast a user is taking but also highlight which stages are blockers.
Safety - Statistics including ID verification success rate and the ratio between customers approved to customers onboarded can show how efficient and effective your processes are at catching fraudulent cases.
Intelligence - The total cost of onboarding and customer churn are good metrics to use when trying to increase automation and streamline the onboarding flow to deliver a fantastic customer experience.
Onboarding expands far beyond a simple sign up form. Arguably if used correctly, it never ends, as it can continue to be the interface between customer and compliance during the whole customer lifecycle. Transitioning from a traditional onboarding journey to a fully integrated, efficient and effective process may feel daunting.
At Detected we’re focused on providing fast, safe and intelligent business onboarding. We understand the widespread impact onboarding has, the multiple groups it affects and the real damage poor onboarding can have on revenue.
With Detected, A user arrives on an onboarding flow which is highly specific to the country they are from and the product they are signing up for. Not only does this provide a streamlined experience for them but it combats any known data inefficiencies.
During the process the user completes ID verification, documents and any custom forms. They can leave at any time, and return using the same link. They can also onboard multiple companies easily and request for colleagues to help them if required.
The company profile that is generated balances direct business owner input and information obtained from our data sources. Your compliance team receives a comprehensive and complete profile to review, in the back-end dashboard, via API or integrated into CRMs.
Mondu, the fast-growing B2B payments company, has signed with Detected to automate its merchant onboarding process. As Mondu continues to expand across Europe, having strong foundations in place for its merchant onboarding will aid its growth while also providing a better experience for Mondu’s business customers.