Welcome Aboard Mate!

If you are old enough to go back a few years, you may remember a popular television show called “The Love Boat.” (Yes, I am showing my age) Cue the theme music as the passengers board the vessel for yet another exotic location. Hey, there is the Captain, Julie, Gopher, Isaac and Doc. They are the crew’s welcoming committee ready to meet the special need of each individual guest.

In your bank or credit union, where is your welcoming committee to help the newest customer board your financial services ship? Do you take them on a personal tour (introducing them to your best products and services) or do you let them wander aimlessly on their own? The first 90-180 days of a new banking relationship are critically important.

What is on-boarding and why is it so important? On-boarding is the process of introducing your newest customer to your institution and ensure they receive the highest quality service at every step. It would be so easy if we were just selling Girl Scout cookies instead of financial products. We could simply deliver the boxes and the customer would enjoy them. However, instead we are tasked with delivering complex financial services/products with many options and features such as direct deposit, on-line banking, bill pay, e-statements, etc. Each option has the potential to frustrate new customers and send them running for the hills.

We know first impressions last a lifetime. This is your chance to demonstrate a “WOW” level of service which is the unique brand of your institution. Here are the top six activities to be executed with precision and care:

1) Name/Face Recognition – Successful on-boarding programs focus on developing personal customer relationships. Any bank can process checks and deposits (transactions) but only you can build a lasting personal customer relationship. Your first goal is to develop name/face recognition. When your customer thinks about banking, your name/face must pop into their mind as the “go to” person that can help them. Name/face recognition does not happen after just one new account opening interaction. It develops over time with each call or customer touch.

2) Welcome Email – About two seconds after your newest customer leaves your branch office following an account opening, a personalized welcome email should be sent. This branded email works best if you can include a picture of yourself, branch manager or the agent who just helped the customer open the account. (build name/face recognition…see #1) The email is pretty simple. It should thank the customer for their business, welcome them to the organization, and provide full contact details including branch hours and phone number so they can call you personally if there are any problems or future needs. One more question. Did you get their email address when they opened the account? If you do not, you are sunk on this item. One last note on why we send an email. Many of your customers keep their contacts on their phone or computer. This email will allow them to add you to their contact book for future reference which is a good thing.

3) 3-Day Welcome Call – The first personalized touch should be a call to the customer at 3 days following the account opening. The purpose of the call is to once again thank the customer for choosing your institution. We are reaffirming them that they have made an excellent decision. At this time, you can verify to see if they have received their debit cards or any introductory new account correspondence that may have been sent. If there is a separate procedure for signing up for on-line banking or bill pay, you can also see if they have completed this process. Often, customers can get confused by all the required steps to setup on-line banking and bill pay. Your job is to help them be successful.

4) 3-Week Call – By now the customer should have received their printed checks, debit cards and passwords to get them successfully banking with you. Use this opportunity to once again find out if there are having any problems or if they need assistance. Before the call, verify if the customer has setup direct deposit. If they have not, now is a good time to mention it. Often during the 3 week call, the customer is starting to get comfortable with the service you are providing. Now is the time to ask a few interview questions to find out what other financial service needs the customer may have.

5) 3-Month Call– The purpose of the 3 month call is to focus on satisfaction. We are calling the customer to find out if we have performed to their level of expectation. We can start by asking them if they are satisfied with the services that have been provided. If they are unsatisfied, now is the time to take critical care action to resolve their issue. If the customer is completely satisfied, ask more questions about their need for other financial services.

6) Anniversary Call/Note – Each year on the anniversary of the relationship, acknowledge the customer by thanking them for their business. You may want to give them a personal call or handwrite a short note. Include your business card or maybe a coupon for a free cup of coffee at the bagel shop next door.

OK, it looks like this cruise ship is pulling into port. One question you may have is how do you keep track of each event for every individual customer? One way would be to keep manual files or logs to track activities each month. You may also want to look into an automated opportunity management solution such as IQLeads (sorry for the shameless advertisement). If you follow the six step process to on-boarding each new customer, you will enjoy the great results and years of long-lasting customer relationships.

Welcome Aboard Mate!