Today’s consumer shops and purchases most products and services using digital channels and mobile devices. In many cases, a consumer can complete an entire purchase journey without leaving their home or entering a store.
Unfortunately, in the banking industry, this is usually not the case. Not only do a very small percentage of organizations offer the opportunity to open a new account online or with a mobile device from start to finish, many have extraordinarily complex, paper intensive processes within the branch as well.
The result is a very high abandonment rate for consumers trying to open a new account digitally, according to the Digital Account Opening research published by the Digital Banking Report. While there isn’t as high of an abandonment rate within the branch, the complexity results in less time to get to know the needs of the consumer, build any level of a relationship or increase share of wallet.
With these historical branch-based flaws in mind, Santander Bank decided to completely redesign its new account opening architecture and software to integrate paperless processes and consolidate screens and clicks for an improved experience. The bank’s new platform speeds up and streamlines account opening in the branch, cutting the time by more than half, which improves the customer experience.
“Modernizing the account opening process has enhanced the Bank’s ability to serve our customers,” said Brian Diepold, Santander’s Director of Marketing Insights and Technology. “Like most banks, Santander’s process for opening new accounts was designed to be branch-based and the workflow involved unnecessary steps, clicks, pages and prompts. We’ve re-engineered the process to take as little as two minutes, which gives bankers more quality time with the customer instead of keeping them occupied inputting data.”
The result of Santander’s efforts was to be named a winner in the Celent Model Bank competition.
As a winner in the Celent Model Bank competition, Santander met the following criteria:
- Business Benefits. The initiative had a clear and sustainable impact on the business – clearly advancing the bank’s business objectives.
- Degree of Innovation. The initiative was deemed particularly innovative for the use of technology in improving sales or service results, reducing risks or costs, or improving business processes.
- Technology or Implementation Excellence. The initiative is noteworthy for the extreme difficulty, complexity of technology, or implementation excellence.
According to Stephen Greer, an analyst with Celent’s banking practice. “Santander Bank has delivered a paperless, real-time, end-to-end account opening platform, completely redesigning its new account opening architecture and software to integrate paperless processes and consolidate screens and clicks for an improved experience.”
Prior to the new implementing the new process, it took an unreasonable amount of time to open single or multi-signer accounts on the core platform at Santander. Data needed to be entered multiple times, with customers inconvenienced by the wait time and frustrated by being asked the same questions multiple times. In reviewing the process, the bank identified around 30 minutes of inefficiency within the account opening process.
Rather than limit the improvements to only desktop account opening, Santander wanted to introduce a tablet-based process that would allow mobility within the branch as well as enabling platform personnel to open new accounts on the road.
To allocate the required human and financial resources and prioritize these improvements, the Santander new account opening project was sponsored by the CEO and entire executive team and included two primary objectives:
- Simplify the account opening process to increase productivity and efficiency, enabling a higher value interaction between the bank and its customers.
- Enable mobile account opening as bankers leave the branch to interact with customers and prospects remotely.
Simplifying In-Branch Opening
Santander’s initiative to redesign its new account opening architecture and software and improve the in-branch account opening experience was a multi-stage process, initially yielding a tablet-based application that launched in 2015. The Bank then redesigned the software for desktop use.
The platform’s key benefits to customers include:
- Simplified and speedy account opening and onboarding process that reduces screens, clicks and entry of duplicative customer information.
- Consolidated signup process enabling enrollment across different services like debit cards, online banking, and overdraft protection simultaneously.
- Enhanced quality of interactions between bankers and customers.
- Secure online banking enrollment. Data is not stored on the tablet device. All information is sent via paperless storage (account opening documents held in an online repository), e-signatures, and image capture for IDs.
- An environmentally friendly, completely paperless tablet banker-assisted account opening process that reduces risk and saves paper.
The tablet app enabled completely paperless, end-to-end account opening that incorporated other services like online banking enrollment. All the “paperwork” is delivered electronically to the customer, sent and stored securely and is always accessible within the customer’s Online Banking and the bank’s content management portal.
According to Santander, Mitek’s OCR software is used to read customer information from a driver’s license and pre-populate new account opening forms. The software is running on tablets in 34 of the bank’s 670 branches with plans to expand to additional branches over the next year.
Beyond just a tablet solution, Santander wanted a desktop application that had a look and feel similar to the tablet app. The bank also wanted some new functionality to maximize the interaction between the frontline staff and new customers.
One of the features is that within each account, a representative can toggle between the customer profile, banker notes, and the account opening application. This allows the banker to reference or update any needs assessment information on the customer in real time.
Software development to refine the new account opening (NAO) process was developed internally by ISBAN, a Technology and Operations affiliate within the Santander Group. Supporting Santander Bank, ISBAN has around 300 employees in the US backed up by the support of its global team.
According to Santander, within a week of the deployment, more than 60% of eligible product applications were handled through the new platform, with more than 2,500 accounts processed per week.
From a user experience standpoint, the platform accomplished the following:
- 343 to 180 clicks from legacy new account opening simplification.
- 180 to 88 clicks through the tablet application (119 to 15 screens).
- 119 to 8 screens on the desktop application (88 clicks for prospects, 37 for existing customers).
Customer satisfaction has also increased. In a survey of customers after new account opening, the net satisfaction score climbed 10% (promoters fewer detractors on a 5 point survey). The increase in efficiency and tablet app gives bankers the ability to be present with the customer instead of busy inputting data.
Santander’s commitment to providing best-in-class digital onboarding experiences extends to direct customer touchpoints as well. Their online and mobile account opening process, recognized as Best Digital Platform in March, 2015 by Innovation Enterprise, can be completed online, in about 10 minutes for most deposit products.
The responsive application supports several features to increase their customer’s convenience, including save and retrieve and a driver’s license scan using a smartphone’s camera, to make the mobile application experience easier and faster.
The customer doesn’t have to visit the branch at all for either of Santander’s digital account opening systems, online or mobile. Funding today is done via debit or credit card, and they’ll be rolling out account transfer funding (ACH) later in the year. The only offline component is a signature card that they send in the mail, which will be replaced with eSignature, also later this year.
As far as improvements, in addition to eSignature and account funding, Santander is looking at other ways they can use the mobile phone camera to increase convenience, and interface improvements to reduce clicks and typing. Their goal is to make the digital and mobile experiences as streamlined and friendly as possible for the digital-natives of their customer base.
In the end, the changes benefit the increasingly digital consumer, who is looking for simplicity and a way to complete the digital journey they started when they shopped for a new account online. By making the process easier for the consumer, Santander will garner an increasing share of the market who are becoming impatient with paper intensive and branch focused new account processes.