Bots, AI, Live Chat

Customer Onboarding: 5 Ways Bots Transform the Experience and Improve Results

By 6 Minute Read

How often has the customer onboarding experience been amazing?

We’ve all signed up for some form of product or service, often using online applications, guided forms, or speaking with a contact center agent through live chat or on the phone – right? How often has it failed your expectations and led to abandonment or frustration with the brand? And, how many times, have you progressed through pages of web forms only for the session to expire?

Welcome to customer onboarding – one of the first journeys a customer may take post-sale with a company and brand and, therefore, one of the most significant opportunities to create fruitful and engaging experiences!

How You Onboard Customers Counts – A Lot!

While the term onboarding is often associated with the process of integrating new hires or employees into an organization and getting them up and running with the necessary knowledge, skills and tools that they need for their job, the concept of customer onboarding is equally, if not more critical to many business operations.

Think of every time you complete an online application to join an association, apply for a 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. In each case, there is some form of an onboarding experience – one which can be made smooth and frictionless with a smart bot. To get an idea of how an OnboardingBOT can really change the experience for a customer take a look at this short onboarding animation.

Onboarding Customers: First Impressions Matter

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. Think of all the things you have signed up to, especially in today’s world of mobile apps or SaaS services, and how many you actually have continued to use. Onboarding customers quickly, efficiently, and with a superior experience helps to keep them engaged, avoids customer churn, and creates a positive brand impact. 

But onboarding customers 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 loan application. It’s not straight-forward as it means gathering proof of a customer’s status, conducting due diligence, and adhering to regulatory requirements. For example, a bank will need proof of income, bank and tax statements, social security or social welfare details, employment contract information, credit details, and more. Onboarding can be a complex journey but the good news is that an Onboarding Bot can really help overcome some of the common challenges.

Five Ways an Onboarding Bot Helps

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 to a service center, 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.

At ServisBOT we see five ways in which an Onboarding Bot can help transform how a business takes customers through these post-sale journeys that sign them up, log them in, process their application, and get them up and running and using the services they purchase. These are:

  1. More Convenience: Customers Can Onboard on their Schedule, rather than just during the Contact Center Hours. A bot is the ultimate in a self-service onboarding model, offering customers the convenience to sign up to a service or product day or night and complete the journey whenever suits them, wherever they may be, and uninterrupted. With a 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 partway through onboarding and didn’t continue the process? The 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. 
  5. Automated and Intelligent: Customer Journeys Powered by a Bot Army and AI. A well-designed bot can automate business tasks or workflows. However, as multiple tasks may be required in an onboarding journey, several bots, each with their specific mission or role, can work together to manage the journey, even if it’s complex. These are what we call the Army of Bots. 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 a 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 onboarding 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 steps in a journey and fulfill more complex or additional intents.

Bots, Messaging, and AI have the power to transform customer engagement and bring them along a positive journey so that they use their products or services. Think of ways in which these three technologies together can eliminate the frustrations of paper-based application forms, the cost and session-based format of live chat or in-person meetings, and the challenges of interrupted web sessions. 

To see how a ServisBOT differs from a regular chatbot watch this video.

To read more about how bots can be a simple, yet powerful, way to transform customer engagement. Download our eBook: 10 Use Cases for an Army of Bots in Customer Engagement.


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