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Onboarding self-directed investors: how to accelerate stronger relationships

Lauren Wilson - July 19, 2018 - 0 comments

Onboarding self-directed investors: how to accelerate stronger relationships

Today, more and more banks and credit unions are using new and exciting marketing techniques to attract clients and investors. One overlooked opportunity for financial groups is customer onboarding.

Activation Friction

It is estimated that nearly half of new app downloaders will register or open an app just once and then never log in again. New users face the friction of uncertainty about requirements and how things work. Removing this friction is critical to activation. A self-directed investor is not acquired when they register but only when they first complete a value-added transaction.

Onboarding is the program and strategy your financial institution follows to proactively help newly registered clients get to this first value-added transaction. Focusing on initial interactions will not only enable you to reduce high inactivity and churn rates found in this initial period but enables you to accelerate a value-based relationship with your self-directed investors.

Here are some tips to consider in your onboarding process to accelerate stronger relationships:

1. Understand goals

Understanding why a self-directed investor has selected your product is valuable information; yet, understanding the goals they have in investing through your product is customer relationship gold. This information enables your teams to better connect and personalize interactions and communication. It also supports a better understanding of early interactions, or lack of, with your products and services.

When you understand your customer’s goals you can frame behaviors, both customer driven and your preferred actions. With customer value in mind, you can see an impact through more positive outcomes and adherence.

In designing your onboarding or registration processes, layer in goal setting and customer expectation questions. Capture responses and integrate them within your CRM to use at a later time for personalization. Goals evolve over time, so ensure both that your customers can update them later during subsequent logins and engagements.

2. Break it down, allow clients to skip and set expectations

Understand which goals are a priority. Not all requested information is necessary, so make set-up requirements lean.

Strike a balance between speed, ease of registration and exchange and collection of information, so each step flows logically. If you can provide your service at the quality expected without the information, it is a good indication that it can be excluded in the initial onboarding phases.

Enable users to skip and return back to complete some information later. While this may seem counterintuitive, consider the number of registrants who may be setting up a secondary account or a new device.

Many users are keen to interact with your service directly to understand the look and feel and access the functionality before sharing goal and expectation information. If you opt to enable skipping steps, ensure that investors are prompted ahead of initiating transactions that require missing information to complete their profiles to avoid a negative experience or delay.

Throughout onboarding, provide expectations. Consider sharing insights into the estimated time to complete and progress through screens. You can achieve this by using messaging to frame the context of your unique value proposition: i.e. 2 minutes until you can make your first trade. This sets expectations and offers a way for you to reinforce and customize the messaging. These progress screens can also be developed as part of your overall gamification strategy.

3. Provide education but leave something to discover

Within your onboarding program, ensure to educate the self-directed investor through different content based on your audience. Videos and tutorials illustrating how to navigate and where to start are non-negotiables within any successful onboarding process. The ability for users to skip and return to these at a later date is important.

There can also be a tendency and desire to overshare in these early stages. Your product and programs offer interesting and useful functionality. Restraint is required to focus only on the core functionality needed to get started and get the first value-added transaction completed. You want to avoid overwhelming clients or creating a perception of complexity.  Understanding your customer’s goals can assist in customizing these education points as you complete more in-depth customer journey analysis. Leaving something for them to discover is preferable and, with an intuitive design in place, often faster than an exhaustive tutorial. Organically discovering functionality reinforces how easy your service is to use.

4. Make it easy to reach out to experts

Even within the best-designed experiences, there will be questions. Throughout the process and overall user experience, ensure it is easy to access support and information.  Consider making new client onboarding a specialty within your staff, as a negative interaction at this stage is nearly impossible to overcome.

The onboarding expert requires a blend of product and service information with a technical application aptitude. They should customer goal oriented and empowered to spend the time required to support the customer to their first value-added transaction. Offering multi-channel access to these experts and enabling them to access these channels from within the process, without restarting, will reduce your registration bounce rate and improve registration completions.

5. Report and proactively engage

What gets reported gets done, and supporting your self-directed investors to their first value-added transaction is no different. For that reason, regularly evaluate key metrics which can include:

    • registration bounce and completion rates
    • first transaction and overall rates
    • voice of the customer/user survey results
    • the volume of support interactions

As you collect more information, use it to identify potential dissatisfaction or churn risk to target for improvements.  Develop outreach programs by leveraging in-app messaging, e-mail and phone to get early feedback.  These touchpoints help solidify a more personalized relationship.

Share product information and education with your customers more like a drip campaign so that they are not overwhelmed with a tsunami of information after their initial transaction.  Provide the right level of information, at the right time, to assist your customers in using and discovering value at different stages of the relationship to meet their needs.

Through a lean, streamlined and supported onboarding process you will enable your self-directed investors to develop stronger relationships with your financial intuition, faster. This ensures your customer acquisition funding creates values and relevance for your audience and a better return on investment. For your investors it enables them to more expediently move towards their goals and get value from your service. Onboarding sets the tone for a stronger and longer win-win relationship. What do you think? Share your thoughts by getting in touch at

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