Updated and republished.

Craig Reid posted a great write-up about customer on-boarding this week that I think is a good read covering some of the usual issues plaguing the old customer on-boarding process.

I am repeatedly surprised when I learn about how badly organizations – fairly large ones at that – handle customer on-boarding. If on-boarding is as important as it might seem, judging from the vehemence with which they agree it is, how come it turned out such a mess?

Craig lists out a few common issues that make executing on-boarding so hard, but here is one of the points that struck me as probably the most significant of factors contributing to a poor  on-boarding process- 

“Our policy is that we need you to…” – words of death for a blossoming new customer relationship. Too many firms simply gather unnecessary information at on-boarding because it was decided 20 or 30 years ago that it was required. Antiquated business rules need to be questioned, challenged, eliminated or they become a catalyst for complexity and errors.

And if you ask me, this is also often true about the activities and tasks from start to end that are believed to make up ‘on-boarding’. Most processes have changed over several years and yet, activities and tasks linger on that have either become redundant or don’t really add much value to the basic purpose of the on-boarding idea.

Unless these are questioned and challenged we are not really going to improve anything significantly – we might be just drawing tread marks on worn out tires when what you really need to do is fit new ones.

Craig ends the article with another line that I liked –

The key to customer onboarding is minimal customer effort through the channel of their choice – data entered once and passed through the process. Customers don’t care about being “on-boarded” they just care about your products and services – so don’t keep them from using them by putting process roadblocks in their way.

What I liked about that is that it seems to also double as a good central proposition to focus on-boarding process improvements around.

At the core of any process change initiative, is the very proposition around which the idea of improvement needs to be based on – a theme that provides the discretionary reference to challenge, optimize and improve. So whether it is a Customer On-boarding process, or anything else, be sure you have your proposition stated clearly especially if you want to avoid being all over the place and making changes just because you can and your tool supports it.

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