Automating Customer Onboarding: 5 Ways that AI Assistants Help
Customer onboarding is one of the first journeys a customer may take post-sale with a business. For some industries, it can be a lengthy and tedious process that is riddled with many manual and labor-intensive steps, and, for many, it hasn’t been the focus of their digital transformation efforts. Until recently!
As the COVID-19 crisis hit, many businesses realized that their customer onboarding needed to shift more fully to a digital experience as quarantine orders closed offices and forced businesses to operate almost completely via virtual channels. Thanks to the adoption of conversational AI, onboarding journeys can now be more automated, delivering a smoother experience for customers and faster time-to-revenue for the business. For industries like insurance, banking, and finance, providing an automated digital onboarding experience for customers has become a critical tool in generating revenue faster and at a lower cost to serve.
As Celent states in their blog “Digital Onboarding:: No Longer a Question of When but How Soon” the benefits to banks and financial institutions are hard to ignore.
“Banks state that their relationship managers report improved job satisfaction because they can focus more on adding value for clients by gaining 10% to 15% extra capacity. The bank overall wins by reducing their costs through automation and error reduction, with some reporting errors down from 60% to 5% and processing time down as short as a sixth of the time.”
The key to achieving these results through digital customer onboarding and automation is now enabled by conversational chatbots.
How You Onboard Customers Counts – A Lot!
Think of every time you apply for insurance coverage or a bank loan, become a member of a club, submit a job or college application, subscribe to a SaaS service, or change your utility or healthcare provider. Getting set up and started can take time, especially when a product or service is complicated, such as the terms of an insurance policy or bank loan. Typically, there can be multiple steps in an onboarding journey, and often there is a need to capture and validate proof documents and other customer details. Hence the delays and frustration.
Imagine an AI assistant that can take a customer through the steps in an onboarding journey, leveraging natural conversation in a digital channel. The bot can automate the process of requesting documents from a customer and taking them via image uploads in the conversation. Document handling can be a very costly process that involves staff chasing new customers for multiple documents and details and attaching these to their record in order to get final approval. For complicated products and services, the AI assistant can keep customers engaged in the complete onboarding process and re-engage with them if they drop off. The digital assistant also responds to customer queries as they arise throughout the engagement, but at any stage, it can hand over to a human agent who can handle more unique or complex issues that the bot isn’t trained for.
An Insurance AI Case Study: Onboarding Customers with their Auto Insurance Policy
Customer onboarding is critical as it represents a revenue opportunity for businesses as they aim to enroll new customers to their products and services as quickly and efficiently as possible, generating new sales and a recurring revenue stream. And, in many instances, a smooth onboarding process leads to higher adoption and usage rates, one of the leading indicators in reducing churn.
But getting customers up and running can be a costly and complicated activity, especially in cases where there are many steps in the customer journey that need to be validated, approved, or documented. Think of a customer getting approved for an auto insurance policy. This involves some tedious gathering of proof documents such as the customer’s driving license, banking information, no claims bonus or proof of previous insurance, social security number, vehicle identification or registration number, among others. Here’s an example of how an insurance client turned a cumbersome and costly onboarding process into one that is smoother and more efficient.
By implementing an AI digital assistant, the insurance client was able to dramatically decrease the manual effort and costs involved in getting customers started with their new policy. Before deploying the bot solution, human workers handled dozens of emails and document attachments per day, gathering all the different documents, validating them, and collating them so they could be attached to the customer policy record. Now they can handle an average of 150%+ more incoming uploads per day as documents are properly collated by the bot. With agent productivity increased tenfold due to this new onboarding process, agents can be put to work on other higher-value tasks.
Read the Insurance Customer Onboarding Case Study to learn more about this digital assistant solution and how it automated the journey to achieve these compelling business results.
Five Compelling Ways an Onboarding Chatbot Drives Better Business Outcomes
There are many different ways to sign up customers – from traditional face-to-face sales meetings (e.g. at a bank or with a broker or with a sales rep) to paper-based application forms that are mailed, faxed, or emailed, and web-based or mobile forms that can be supported through web chat or voice calls. Each of these methods poses challenges either in terms of high costs, delays, inconvenience, or inaccuracies.
Here are five ways in which an Onboarding digital AI assistant, leveraging conversational AI, automates steps in the journeys to drive down costs and improve the experience.
- More Convenience: Customers Can Onboard on their Schedule, 24/7. A digital assistant, powered by AI, is the ultimate in a self-service onboarding model, offering customers the convenience to onboard day or night and complete the journey whenever suits them, wherever they may be, and uninterrupted. With an AI bot, the onboarding process doesn’t have to happen within the opening hours of the contact center or when human agents are available to help. The bot can work around-the-clock, limiting the risk of losing a customer because they take their business elsewhere or have time to consider their decision and opt-out.
- Lower Cost and Customer-led Approach: The Bot Alternative to Live Chat. Over time, different ways of improving customer journeys around onboarding have emerged – from the web or mobile forms with drop-down menus, auto-fills, and guided steps, to live chat and agent-assisted models. However, there are still challenges. Continuous web or live chat sessions can expire if a customer is interrupted or has to abandon the session before completing it, requiring them to start over again. Live chat is also expensive as these are handled by human agents and it can be frustrating with delays or wait times incurred by agents managing multiple chats concurrently. With bots, the session can be conducted over the timeframe that suits the customer with the bot able to pick up and take off when and where needed so that the onboarding process can happen asynchronously. If the journey requires user authentication, the bot will just re-authenticate the user and continue the journey where the customer left off. A bot also allows journeys to be automated, eliminating the need for human agents handling common tasks or responding to common queries so they can focus on resolving more complex issues. So the bot acts as an inexpensive alternative, is available 24/7, and can operate in a stop-and-go way that is more customer-led.
- Choice of Preferred Channel: The Power of Messaging Apps and Bots Over the last 5 years, messaging apps have witnessed phenomenal growth – driven by the popularity of messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, LINE and more. These chat apps are now becoming core to how businesses interact with customers, opening up a new channel for onboarding customers. Imagine signing up for a membership or subscription via your messaging app on your mobile device rather than having to go through a web form with live chat support? A conversational bot can authenticate the customer, respond to their intent, retrieve necessary information, automate the journey, and send reminders or updates. This can be done at the customer’s pace and in their timeframe via the messaging channel. A bot is always available and remembers the last interaction and activity and can always pass on to a human agent or initiate a channel switch. Supporting communication via a customer’s preferred channel and offering a seamless onboarding experience, not only improves convenience and customer experience but it can help businesses onboard customers faster and more efficiently.
- Reduce Churn: Faster Onboarding. Attention spans can be short and shoppers can easily go elsewhere in the world of online business. For this reason, it is important to provide a positive initial experience and be able to sign up customers as quickly as possible and on their timeframe and terms before they either change their minds or lose interest. The bot can respond immediately without the delays that are experienced in live chat situations. It can also automate the journey so that customers get started quicker, for example accessing necessary documents or information on the spot. And, even better, the bot can manage the end-to-end journey in a stop-and-go fashion that beats to the customer’s drum and is not forced on them by the business. But how about customers who broke off part way through onboarding and didn’t continue the process? The customer retention bot can also proactively engage with these customers, sending them reminders, and getting them back into the onboarding process so that they complete the journey.
- Automated and Intelligent: Customer Journeys Powered by AI and Automation. The real power of AI digital assistants is in their ability to automate routine tasks and workflows, limiting the need for labor-intensive and costly processes. Powered by AI, an onboarding bot can start managing a simple onboarding journey but can quickly train and learn to become smarter and manage more tasks on the journey. And of course, a bot can always escalate or hand off to a human agent if needed and advise a customer along the way. And as the bot handles more and more customer conversations in the journey, they become smarter at understanding the customer’s intent and responding to it in the right way. Over time a bot can also be trained to handle more complex steps in a journey and fulfill additional intents. Even in complex journeys that involve multiple steps and processes, several task-oriented bots can work together using a multi-bot orchestration approach that overcomes the limitations of today’s NLP technology.
You can also test-drive a demo digital AI assistant that is specific to onboarding an auto insurance customer here.