Reverting “onboarding” back to “welcoming”

To support my argument that businesses (at least credit unions) ought to banish the word “onboarding” and replace it with the much more friendly and personal word “welcoming”, I’ve taken this article on onboarding and replaced “onboarding” with “welcoming process” or some variation of it. Judge for yourself if this does or does not set a better tone for the employee(s) doing the welcoming or onboarding, and what impact that will have on the new members/customers you are trying to onboard or welcome.

The 3 Primary Benefits of a Welcoming Process for Your New Members

The Credit Union world sometimes seems split on the benefits of establishing a welcoming process for new members. Maybe a better way to put it is that only about 40% of credit unions actually execute a welcoming strategy. Industry research has also revealed two impediments. First, a lack of time for “one more thing to do.” The second reason, coming back in several forms, is a lack of understanding of the benefits.

What is a Welcoming Process?

Simply put, a Welcoming Process is a systematic way of reaching out to new members during the initial 90 days after they join your credit union. This “first 90 days” time frame compliments research that says your best chance of cross-selling an additional product or service to a new member is highest during this same time. Research also indicates that satisfying an additional two or three financial needs for new members during this 90-days means they are dramatically less likely to leave, improving your overall retention rate.

Increasing Cross-selling Effectiveness

It is eight to ten times easier, and much more cost effective, to cross-sell an existing member than it is to attract a new one. This knowledge is a fundamental member-retention marketing gem. Couple this gem with another, that cross-selling is more effective during the first 90 days of membership, and you have a marketing imperative that cannot be ignored.

Effective welcoming requires that you reach out at least 3-4 times to your new members during this 90-day honeymoon. There are a variety of techniques to do this, but any of them, effectively executed, will deliver double-digit new sales response rates. Are you getting a 10-12% response rate on your other direct mail/cross-selling efforts?

So, what does this process look like? Many credit unions start with a personal phone call to thank the new member for their business. This call also provides the opportunity to set the stage for upcoming offers sent via email and direct mail. Email and direct mail offers should target members likely to make that purchase and focus on sales of core credit union products.

Improving Member Retention

Building a formal retention strategy alone is a valuable endeavor and in the context of welcoming, retention is a key benefit. In fact, without an effort to “reach out” to new members quickly with an welcoming initiative, about one fourth of your new members will leave within their first 12-15 months. A well-executed retention plan always includes welcoming. The better cross-selling a member receives, the firmer your grasp on their loyalty. Next to building a wall around your entire membership, this marketing technique will help you stem the flow of members leaving.

A Love Connection

Every credit union desires for their membership to fall in love with them and embrace the movement itself. The third benefit of welcoming helps firmly connect your members to you. The consistent early contact you establish will make your new members feel a part of something that matters to them. Done right, these new members will sense a connection to something unique and special.

Not all new members will end up falling in love, but welcoming provides your best chance to systematically reach out to them and make that long-term connection happen. Even if you don’t sell another product or service to every new member, at least many of them will feel connected to you in a larger sense. This intangible concept can provide some very tangible benefits. When you’re in love, you stick around and are less likely to be swayed by others.

The Benefits of a Welcoming Process are Undeniable

If you can’t do it yourself, you can hire an outside firm to do it for you or maybe explore technology to ease your burden. Either way, get expert counsel on how the best way to execute a welcoming process to compliment your brand, maximize the sales impact, and assure your ROI.

Original Onboarding article here, is written by Carla Bailey, Vice President, Consulting, at Marquis.

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