Success factors for customer onboarding and online business

Author: Denis Joannides

Last updated: January 8, 2020

Onegini's founder, Denis Joannides shares his vision on the success factors for customer onboarding and online business in this interview with Digital Insurance Agenda. The interview as originally posted on the website of Digital Insurance Agenda.
Customers these days want to be connected, informed and self-reliant. 24/7 online availability is something they count on. Digital interactions across multiple channels are crucial and should be hassle free. As a consequence, carriers require platforms which combine ease of use and security at the same time. In this interview Denis Joannides, founder and CEO Onegini, shares his vision on the success factors for customer onboarding and online business.

Founded in 2011, Onegini now serves over 200 companies and over 45 million users. They secure over a billion transactions with offices in multiple countries and transformed over 100 financial institutions to digital players.

What in your view is the single most important requirement to become a winning digital player?
Denis: “We believe this is the digital identity of customers. This digital identity should provide a seamless login for the end user, be seamlessly used across the different channels, and it enables you as an organization to start one to one personal interactions and build true customer intimacy.
That is the starting point for becoming a digital player. This way a user can start on the web, continue on mobile or on chat and when he starts on chat he is immediately identified. You can link his personal data into the chat and help him, which is much more efficient than talking to an anonymous user. We believe the user should have one and the same experience.”

Customer onboarding seems to be the objective of many these days. Why is it so important?
Denis: “Customer onboarding, or ‘digitalizing your customers’, is related to the business case that is pursued. We see business cases with a cost savings perspective; increasing self-service, reduction of sending letters to customers, and reduction of calls to the contact centre. We also see business cases that aim to increase revenue by building customer intimacy and a one-to-one relationship. Yet, when there are only few customers that you can reach online, the ROI will be limited. If you want to terminate sending letters for instance, you need to have a certain threshold of online users before you can switch to the digital channel.”


On-boarding is still quite challenging. It often starts with a registration page, some form of activation and in the end less than 10% of customers onboard - with still a lot of dropouts and lack of follow-ups …
Denis: “We defined a model to determine the ‘sweet spot’ for the on-boarding journey. There are three angles. First, there is the organization. It's what you as an organization would like to focus on. The second is about regulation, because some companies are more regulated than others, especially when it comes to digital. With regard to protecting data, GDPR, for instance, banks for example, have to identify the user much better, know their customers better. Compared to banks, car insurance isn’t always so heavily regulated. But life insurance or pension are - and regulation there is becoming even more strict. Then we have the third angle; customers. This is where you need to consider benchmarks and preferences   

Screenshot 2019-11-22 at 13.15.54


Could you share an example of finding the perfect journey?
Denis: “We recently provided an onboarding flow to a health insurer in Aruba, a small island in the Caribbean with a population little over 100,000. The health insurer wanted to have more one-to-one interaction and build a stronger relationship with its customers. They were barely digital; no ID system we could leverage, no portal, no infrastructure. And everybody's offline. Many people still go to the tax agents every month to fill out their forms. But fortunately, 95% of the customer base has a mobile smartphone with internet access, whereas less than 20% has internet at home. Hence, we decided to focus on mobile only.
In Aruba, people have health insurance card, which is validated and handed out by the health insurance company. We made an app that scans their health insurance card, to identify the person. We still ask a number of questions to make sure this is the right person of course.
It's quite a simple process. We validate a number, we validate the email address, do some data mining to make sure it's not fraud and then the customer is online. He could actually throw away the health insurance card. With this app the customer can go to the hospital and scan the QR code. The health insurance company receives much more data and can therefore provide better services.
Not everybody will go through this process of course. They still have a service desk, but when somebody goes there, they are also asked to install the app and go through validation and identification. From this moment the customer becomes a ‘digital customer’ and can use his mobile to do transactions anywhere.”

Self-service onboarding

The way you describe this digitizing your customer base seems simple. Yet, when meeting with insurance executives we often hear they struggle to become truly digital and to commit their organization.
Denis: “Having an online customer base will impact different business lines. You need multidisciplinary teams where the people from marketing, self-service, contact centre, and so on, work together to get a customer online. In many organizations this remains difficult since they're still structured in different silos. We’re increasingly helping organizations to build their business case from different angles. Another factor to acknowledge is the lack of knowledge and experience of getting customers online and building a digital platform.”

Onboarding survey 2019

Among your customers is Aegon, whom you helped reaching their goal of wanting to become the number one digital insurer.
Denis: “When we started, they were largely offline, with about 10% of customers having an online account they didn’t frequently use. Given the complexity and large number of people involved, we defined three phases to take them digital: web, mobile and brokers.
To give you an idea, for the web part, Aegon was initially dealing with 500 calls a week about address changes and other routine questions. They communicated with customers once every 3 years and mostly offline, limiting their cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. Moreover, at the time, they were dealing with multiple portals and multiple logins, which burdened the call centre and didn’t result in obtaining data. With Onegini Connect we were able to install a single login across all channels, one central solution for digital identities. They now have over 80% of their customers online, thereby save €9M and acquire verified customer data.”

SSo first phase 2


You took an internal challenge and turned it in an external customer first approach.
I imagine that with every case you gain new insights which you can then apply elsewhere.

Denis: “We learned valuable lessons working with Aegon. First, we needed to make it simple. This seems straightforward, but especially when it comes to the customer journey, if there are too many options people will drop out. One or two login options is sufficient. Second, every onboarding scenario should result from a specific need to do so. No customer decides to register without a specific reason. You need to view these micro journeys as customer jobs instead of login processes. Third, I mentioned it’s difficult to get your full organization to commit to the business case, hence a phased rollout across different business lines was in this case preferable and better manageable. With that comes continuous improvement. It will take time to get everybody online and during that time a lot of new innovations pop up from the outside, which you can leverage. Finally, the process of optimizing on-boarding flow should expand to an omni-channel experience for web, mobile and chat."

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