Digitally on-boarding customers successfully has been a growing challenge facing modern companies, and social distancing has made getting this process right more important than ever. As companies are prohibited or restricted from dealing with their customers face-to-face and digital on-boarding becomes their primary channel to bring in new customers, it can be difficult to adapt.  

As we collectively look to troubleshoot and optimize, there are several parallels with the world of online dating. 

Building trust  

Much like digital on-boarding, online dating interactions need to start by building trust between two partiesIn both cases, users need to know who they are interacting with. The first step in this process is securely identifying new members as they join, which is all the more difficult without meeting face to face.  

Just imagine; in the past, companies met their customers in person, just like most romantic encounters started with a date. In both situations, the process of identifying who you are dealing with has changed radically with the move online.  

Digital Interactions are different 

Much like how modern online dating is different from meeting someone in person, meeting and on-boarding your customers for the first time digitally can be very different from working face-to-face. As such, you should consider thinking about and treating these interactions differently. 

Just like online dating, your “User Experience” is key – if you don’t have an online presence (and on-boarding) that is attractive, understandable and easy to engage with, users (potential customers) are simply going to “Swipe Left” and move on to the next (profile) company that is. 

You have to know your customer before you ever “meet” them

In the same way an online dating profile is crafted to attract the specific type of person you are seeking, your on-boarding process should be calibrated to work for your specific customers. Be aware of what types of customers are likely to come through your digital channel and tailor the on-boarding process to their needs. It’s the same process as dating someone online; success means tailoring your approach to who you are targeting. For example, you wouldn’t likely engage a potential partner in a conversation about grilling meat if their profile lists them as a vegetarian, right? 

Without a clear picture of who your customers are, it’s impossible to design a system that works for them. There’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” solution. Different types of customers bring unique challenges to the on-boarding process that you need to anticipate and address. 

For example, all firms need to collect their customers’ names and other personal information and verify their identity. Since names often include many structural and typological differences influenced by cultural and geographic factorsfirms need to design their forms according to the unique naming conventions. Unnecessary errors can be avoided by simply having the appropriate amount of name fields available for your customers, which in many countries is a number greater than “first” and “last” (2). 

For companies that need to bring in large volumes of new customers daily, having a poorly calibrated on-boarding process means more than just frustrating a potential customer. Low match rates from your automated systems mean more customers that need to be manually reviewed, which is a much more expensive and time-consuming process.  


Adapt and refine your digital process over time 

One major benefit of digital on-boarding is that you have much more flexibility to actively adjust your process as you hone in on what works best for your customers. Just like an online dating profile requires periodic updates to stay relevant, your digital on-boarding process needs to be reviewed regularly to ensure optimal performance.  

In the past, the need for physical paper copies of forms made it difficult to make any changes or updates to on-boarding documents without causing a major headache for compliance teams. A new form had to be drafted, printed, then distributed to all branches, while also ensuring all copies of the old form were destroyed or discarded.  

In a digital system, it’s much easier to make changes and try new things. Changes can be made to the entire system with the click of a button and undone just as easily. Although this flexibility allows you to A/B test different formats to achieve the highest possible resultsit makes mistakes more costly. For example, if your changes make the process non-compliant or otherwise disrupt the flow of incoming customers, you could be inadvertently closing off your only pathway to bring in new business. There’s no physical storefront to fall back on! 

Even with these risks in mind, there’s a lot to be gained from continually optimizing your on-boarding process, especially when you have the appropriate tools in place to guide the process. Using webhooks and similar tools to track and review customer behavior, digital systems give you invaluable insight into how customers are interacting with your site and what might be tripping them up. Monitoring and addressing these pain points will create a better customer experience and help avoid the costly manual review process! 


What does “Digital First” look like?  

Digital First systems are able to leverage linking together different stages of the on-boarding process, and allow them to ‘talk’ to each other through the customer on-boarding/monitoring journey.  

For example, the application web form can link to the compliance and risk management tool and simultaneously communicate with the transaction monitoring platform to apply the company’s risk assessment guidelines in real-time.  

By collecting the right information early on and using it at several different points in the journey, companies can not only be more effective when monitoring for suspicious activity but also reduce friction for customers. Instead of entering their information in several places, one entry can auto-fill several forms. Digital tools can go even further, collecting metadata such as location information without requiring user input for consideration and analysis for user on-boarding.  

To do this effectively though, you have to both “Know Your Customers” and be able to anticipate their needs to design on-boarding and KYC systems that work for them. 


Using metadata and other digital tools to flag unusual activity 

With no opportunity to meet and screen customers face to faceit’s more important than ever to make full use of metadata and other digital tools to learn about new customers.  

Imagine you operate a small community bank in rural Iowa, and a man from Sydney, Australia walks in with an Akubra bush-hat with crocodile teeth in the band. He lets you know he is hoping to open an account. You would not treat that as a traditional account opening because he’s immediately distinguishable as an unusual customer. Without meeting them face to faceyou lose the ability to use visual “cues” to assess suitability. Now before you suggest it, ask anyone who has been “catfished” to understand how an uploaded digital picture on its own isn’t an acceptable substitute!  

Thankfully, there are tools available to make screening less difficult in the digital channel. By collecting metadata such as the customer’s location when filling out an online form or analyzing how quickly they entered their answers to form questions, it becomes easier to flag and track high risk or fraudulent users. 

These tools will not only help you identify friction points and create a better user experience but also help flag abnormal or suspicious activityThe same way you would look for “red flags” on a potential partner’s online dating profile, have a process in place to be just as vigilant in reviewing new customers.  


In conclusion… digital customers are coming. Are you ready?

Whether we like it or not, digital on-boarding will be the new standard moving into the future. As we adapt to this new normal, relying on less-than-optimal digital systems can be a significant setback. GDC’s Worldview platform can help boost your match rates, reduce friction, and onboard more customers automatically and rapidly.  

Our systems have helped empower teams to comply with AML directives and maintain high-security digital KYC processes. We also brought together the industry’s first Compliance Advisory Board last year to provide clarity and confidence in legal and privacy questions. 

As an additional resource to your current system, the Worldview API seamlessly brings you the integrated power of our international network of local data providers. We can help remove variables and fortify your automated processes to scale with this new volume, as well as reduce friction in the overall digital on-boarding process. 

For more information about how GDC can help, contact us at