Why 2017 is the year to go digital in customer onboarding

With anticipated annual market growth of over 50 per cent, the use of digital onboarding and e-signatures to transform the customer experience is heating up.

“This trend toward fully automating customer processes is being driven by the financial services industry,” Mary Ellen Power, vice-president of marketing with eSignLive told participants in a recent IT World Canada webinar on the topic. According to Forrester Research, clients rate their current experiences at banks and investment firms as mediocre.

There is significant movement in Canada to do the right thing by the customer, said Power. “Anyone who is not looking at digital customer onboarding for 2017 should rethink this and make it a priority.”

Sponsored by eSignLive and Appway Canada, the webinar reviewed market developments and provided advice for companies considering customer onboarding solutions.

An impressive business case

As a result of implementing end-to-end electronic processes for its investment transactions, RBC Wealth Management saves an impressive $8 million per year, said Power. The change was accelerated after RBC discovered that 75 per cent of the errors in investment transactions were the result of missing data or signatures and that it was losing 80,000 person hours a year to correct these issues.

“You have to follow the paper trail and the handling costs,” said Power. “Every time you require a signature on a document, that’s the moment when you fall back to paper and inject errors and inefficiency into the process.”

With the use of digital customer onboarding and electronic signatures, 80 per cent of the document handling costs can be eliminated. The risks of regulatory non-compliance and the potential for litigation are also reduced. Power noted the case of one bank that went completely paperless across its entire system and saved over $100 million.

These efficiencies translate into better customer service because there are fewer errors and advisors have more time to spend with customers, said Power. It allows clients to complete transactions at their convenience, outside of core hours. “It’s really all about improving the customer experience.”  In 2017, chatbots are expected to become the next big thing to provide real-time interaction with customers as part of the onboarding process.

The question of the legality of e-signatures, however, is still commonly raised. In fact, the use of e-signatures has been legally recognized at the federal and provincial levels since the year 2000, so “that issue can be put to bed,” said Power. E-signatures have been used in the real estate industry for some time, and have been adopted by financial institutions such as RBC, BMO, FundServ and Tangerine. They’re even starting to be used in health care, added Power.

Getting started:

Transforming the customer onboarding experience is about more than the simple act of signing, said Power. “You have to consider what’s involved in the entire work flow.”  This includes considerations like how the client will access the document as well as the methods to be used to authenticate the signatures. A key challenge is to strike the right balance between making the process easy to use and ensuring the security of the document.

Harold Reimer, sales director with Appway Canada, which provides complete onboarding solutions, sees this transition as a journey. “You have to rethink your processes, always keeping the customer in mind,” he said.

It’s not a fundamental IT transformation, said Reimer. Organizations should maintain the stability of their core systems, and use microservices to orchestrate the electronic processes. “It’s not a big bang approach,” he said, “It can evolve over time, but the important thing is to start.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Cindy Baker
Cindy Baker
Cindy Baker has over 20 years of experience in IT-related fields in the public and private sectors, as a lawyer and strategic advisor. She is a former broadcast journalist, currently working as a consultant, freelance writer and editor.

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