Onboarding Strategy to Create Success

Guest author Naveen Jain is the founder and president of CULytics. He's a credit union leader experienced in actionable strategic planning, data analytics, marketing and innovation that deliver immediate ROI at multi-billion dollar institutions. He can be reached at naveen@culytics.com.

Whenever we start something new, norms are prepared and followed to make the most out of the investment. And when a new member/ partner joins the organization, a series of formalities are performed to help them acquire the knowledge and skills they need. This first impression on the newly joining member has a big impact on how relationships are shaped. Member onboarding provides a clear path to engage with the financial institution. It will not only increase retention and loyalty, but decrease attrition and drive revenue.

Onboarding Strategy was discussed at the workshop conducted by CULytics. It was hosted by Naveen Jain (Founder & President, CULytics) and Bob Little (Advisor at CULytics). Here are the key points from the session:

What is member onboarding?

From the member’s perspective, onboarding is the process of helping the new member acquiring the knowledge they'll need to make the most out of their membership. From the credit union’s perspective, onboarding is the process of gathering needed information, driving activation, increasing utilization, cross-selling, and ultimately reducing attrition and improving revenue.

Onboarding Obstacles

Member Friction

People will give up on the process if it is too time consuming or asks for too much information. Minimizing these aspects is a key to keeping things simple. Features that eliminate manual entry could be helpful. For example, enabling autofill fields and pulling any information that has already been captured are ways to reduce the time the member spends entering data.

Security & Compliance

While digital onboarding emphasizes convenience and customer experience, safety and security cannot lose priority. The solution lies in ensuring that the platform has high-end encryption and compliance with regulatory requirements.


Without the personal touch of interacting with someone, digital onboarding can run the risk of seeming detached. Try to make the process feel less robotic. For example, instead of a generic message like “Processing payment,” consider one with a little more personality, such as, “We’re working on your payment now.”


Technology moves fast. One can’t launch an onboarding program and expect it to work, untouched, for years. Your institution must keep up with trends and understand what features can help both organizations and clients. Also, try to explore how members feel about onboarding and identify areas where there is friction.

Data Management

It is required to walk a fine line between collecting so much data that the member gets annoyed and not collecting enough to serve them or stay compliant. Be upfront with the members about the kind of data that is being collected, as well as why. This kind of warning may help them be more patient with inputting data.


In many credit unions, onboarding happens across various product groups. As a result, this creates redundant and sometimes conflicting processes. Try to centralize strategy and management that is responsible for setting onboarding goals, working with onboarding teams, and defining metrics.

Member Journey: Organization’s Perspective


This is the role of marketing and sales within the credit union to help prospective members know what are the brands, offers, etc.

  • Awareness –Spread the good word about the credit union’s brand and service

  • Referral –Capitalize on the goodwill from existing members

  • Acquisition –Convert prospects into new members


  • Activation –Ensure new members take the steps needed to begin using credit union services

  • Utilization –Remind users of the services available to them and encourage ongoing use

  • Cross-sell and Up-sell –Identify new services that would be of interest to the member


  • Grow –Continue to encourage member use of services and look to strengthen the relationship

  • Referral –Leverage member loyalty and incentivize members to help you grow


  • Low Activity –Act on triggers that indicate waning member engagement

  • Attrition –Connect with members who are leaving the credit union to understand what is driving that decision

  • Win Back –Take steps to recover high-value members who have decided to leave the credit union

Member Journey: Member’s Perspective

Members expect the credit union to be:


  • Member’s anticipations: Members expect answers for what happens after they join. They want to more about the credit union. And, they need directions on how to get started or where to go to learn.

  • Meeting member needs: The organization can provide a welcome letter with a brief overview and links to the new member portal and contact info. FAQs, videos, and surveys should be there to serve the best. The institution can manage phone calls to learn more about the new member and provide help. Follow up emails as needed a lot.


  • Member’s anticipations: Members want answers to their questions promptly. Updates on upcoming things that they should know about is highly expected. And, of course, check-in with them to see how they are doing.

  • Meeting member needs: Organizations can do an email engagement guide with a short survey to identify engagement opportunities and arrange a phone call to check-in and answer questions. And, take follow up on interests or needs.


  • Member’s anticipations: They think early connections are developing into trusted relationships. And, they feel like they belong to this community, know what’s going on and how they get value

  • Meeting member needs: The institution can send surveys or polls to get feedback on issues, programs, and needs. Staff can send personalized emails with targeted opportunities and reminders on different ways to engage and benefit.


  • Member’s anticipations: initial year was just as it was imagined or even better. They have enjoyed interactions with the credit union team and have benefited from them. The credit union staff recognizes members and membership is appreciated

  • Meeting member needs: The institution can send a customized year-end summary of their activates and achievements. Also, it can ask members to recommend the credit union to their friends and family.

Today’s Member Onboarding

When a new member joins, the onboarding is done with minimal member input. Realtime information is shared with instant notifications. Omnichannel interaction is available to help members choose the way of interaction as per the choice. Member’s feedback is gathered and analyzed to turn the member into a loyal one. The modern methods provide onlin