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What Is Your Onboarding Process Telling Your Customers?

A great customer journey begins with a smooth onboarding process. Ensuring that customers are approved in a user-friendly and compliant way can sometimes create a tricky task for banks and financial services, especially since consumers are now used to creating an account for any service with just a few taps. With various steps that hold the risk of customer frustration plus the rise of mobile banking, it’s no wonder industry research indicates that digital onboarding has a lot of room for improvement:

68% of surveyed consumers abandoned onboarding for a digital banking app in 2022 — an increase from 63% in 2020 1 . This means that financial service providers still aren’t hitting the mark. Three-quarters of Millennials would switch banks for a better mobile experience 2 , meaning consumer expectations are rising through the generations.

From these statistics, it is clear to see that onboarding is a challenging juggling act — customers demand an easy experience and will abandon the process if they are not satisfied, yet banks are expected to have fraud prevention measures, such as KYC/AML or jurisdiction-specific regulations, that sometimes contradict the smooth experience their potential customers are seeking. In order for banks and financial services providers to ensure proper due diligence, accurately verifying the identity of their new customers is required to comply with many local and regional regulations. Since it is a big part of the onboarding journey, it is key to make the process easy and intuitive.

One thing is for certain — incumbent banks cannot afford to stick to the status quo, and instead must enhance their processes to keep up with Digital First banks and send the right message to their customers.

As digitalization advances and online services reach a higher level of ease and sophistication, online banking services tend to fall short of customers’ expectations.

Ultimately, banks that nail onboarding have the potential to stand high above the rest and delight their customers, while banks that provide an unimpressive experience risk business and their image.

What impressions are your customers getting from your onboarding process and how can you ensure that their journey portrays the best possible image of your bank? Let’s take a look.

Mobile-First Onboarding

“I’m glad I can do this on my mobile. I always have it with me, which makes things more convenient.” “Wait, I can’t do this on my mobile phone? I wonder what else I can’t do on my mobile… This may not be the best bank for me.” There’s a sophisticated mobile-only onboarding option. There’s no mobile onboarding option.

Many people, across all age groups, now view smartphones as an extension of themselves. It’s no surprise that people are starting to use them more than desktop or laptop PCs, which means that providing a sleek, mobile-only onboarding option is essential.

If it’s done right, it sends the message that you are a modern, digital organization with the know-how to fully support account management needs — where your customers find it most convenient. On the other hand, a clunky mobile experience or complete absence of one portrays as inflexible and behind the times.

Simple, Easy-To-Follow Information Requirements

“I’m glad getting started is simple. Maybe I should recommend this bank to my mom.” “How many steps am I going have to complete? I don’t have time for this.” Submitting information is simple. Submitting information is a long process.

While the effects of the pandemic have advanced digitalization and the incentive for online users, we must remember that some less-computer-literate customers may need or simply prefer to complete digital identity verification as part of the onboarding process with more guidance. This involves easy-to-execute tasks, clear indications of where they are in the process, how much time they have left, etc. It’s all about presenting a super simple and intuitive interface that covers what’s going on behind the scenes — where the system should be full of due-diligence checks.

Providing an easy-to-follow process sends the message that you are an organization that prioritizes customer time, and assures customers that it will be simple to manage their account or sign up for additional services in the future. Else, users might abandon the onboarding or become apprehensive for any future banking experience they may face.

Identity Document Submission That Makes Sense

“Wow, this is simpler than I thought it would be! Their system seems pretty smart.” “This is my only ID. I don’t know what I’m going to do. Why isn’t it being recognized?” Capturing a government-issued photo ID is easy. The customer’s capture of their photo ID keeps getting rejected.

We can all agree that the process of submitting identity documents can be a lot of effort, especially because it sometimes involves external steps — like actually finding the correct document and making sure it is valid. This means that the process on the bank’s behalf should be as easy as possible, with capture automation or clear instructions on how the user should submit their document.

If a user’s document isn’t accepted, they may become frustrated and simply choose to abandon the process. An intuitive system that facilitates submission of the ID document eliminates this common bottleneck and will be sure to impress, so that your customers can keep moving along. 

Balanced Compliance Requirements

“I’m glad I didn’t need to submit anything else. Looks like they have a system in place to check everything.” “This seems excessive. Shouldn’t they be able to verify the info on their end? My other accounts didn’t make me do this.” Only one valid, government-issued photo ID is necessary. No other documents are needed. Customers need to submit or scan in multiple documents.

Finding the sweet spot between compliance and user experience can be difficult. If compliance measures aren’t executed smartly, such as requiring users to upload multiple documents, they can be detrimental to your customers’ experience. It’s far from likely that customers will have multiple documents on hand, so they may postpone completing the onboarding or abandon it altogether. To delight users, your system should be able to cross reference their information and ID with databases behind the scenes.

Speedy Approvals  

“That was quick! I’ll get this funded right away. Maybe I should look into their investment opportunities as well.” Customers are quickly notified of their approval and can get started right away. Customers have to wait a long time or receive notification outside the process. “Am I approved or not? Do they even want my business? Maybe I should check around to see if there are any better options.”

The period of time between completing the identity verification as part of the onboarding process and receiving an approval should not be neglected. If it’s too long, customers may become unsettled that something was incorrect, or they might lose the momentum to start using your products or services.

Instead, launch customers into their relationship in real-time. As soon as they are onboarded using a smooth and speedy process, they are more likely to respond positively to prompts for other services offered. This sends the message that you are eager to help and support your customers.

While this perfect customer onboarding process may seem like an out-of-reach dream, HID’s Identity Verification Service makes it far easier than you would think. The intuitive solution minimizes user abandonment without sacrificing security. See how it works in our easy infographic. Still trying to figure out the identity verification market? In this eBook, we'll guide you on how to select the right provider for your organization.

HID secures the entire digital consumer journey, too. From risk-based multi-factor authentication to intelligent fraud prevention, we have you covered. Learn more about our end-to-end approach for consumer authentication.

Katie Björk is the Director of Communications and Solution Marketing at HID. She has nearly 20 years of experience in marketing, communication, market research and change management strategy for several large companies and multiple industries globally. In her current role, Katie is a member of her business unit’s leadership team and focuses on studying the market and ensuring the delivery of an unparalleled user experience in the world of Identity and Access Management.


1. The Financial Brand
2. The Financial Brand