As banks navigate the lasting effects of the Federal Reserve’s rising interest rates and the uncertain market, most banks are prioritizing deposit growth. The swift shift in rates represents an opportunity for banks to assess how they’re onboarding new accounts, especially their commercial banking customers and prospects.

Commercial account onboarding can be a massive headache for business owners and banks, due to the complexities of onboarding a commercial account. Business owners must complete reams of paperwork, submit know your consumer (KYC) and know your business (KYB) information, and ascent to Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) monitoring and other required checks to prove they meet the standards of a financial institution. That’s at odds with expectations of a fast and fully digital experience that rivals consumer banking. Here are three ways to improve the commercial customer experience to help retain deposits.

Prioritize Business Process Design
Building out omnichannel workflows and designing processes for online, mobile and in-person channels enables banks to eliminate disparate systems and improve the application and onboarding process.

Onboarding a commercial account entails collecting a massive amount of information, including sensitive documents and verification. After that, banks may hand an approved account owner off to another internal team for treasury management onboarding – a friction and drop-off point in business banking onboarding that creates a siloed customer experience.

Banks can significantly improve their outcomes if they design their application process with the end goal in mind. Mapping the full customer life cycle with an ideal end state to reverse engineer and streamline customer interactions can eliminate redundant processes and deliver faster onboarding. To use the treasury management example above, if the bank is going to ask for specific data points as part of treasury onboarding, go ahead and include that in the application process to support a cleaner and more efficient handoff once an account is approved.

Consider Customer and Bank Employee Experience
Commercial customer experience is influential: BAI research finds that 87% of business owners use the same financial services organization for their business and personal accounts. So, be sure to leverage the information that you already have on that consumer account customer to streamline their commercial application process. Ask only for the additional information you need. A frustrating or time-consuming experience when opening a commercial account may lead them to choose an alternative option with an efficient process – potentially losing both commercial and consumer deposits.

Banks should also consider the experience of their team members when using new technology. An employee experience that isn’t intuitive and doesn’t drive efficiency won’t be embraced and will fail to meet its expected return on investment. Community bank team members do an excellent job building and nurturing relationships. Their experience with an account onboarding tool should eliminate busy work and free more time up for value-add interactions with the customer.

Leverage Integrations and Automation to Reduce Manual Effort
When considering a commercial account onboarding platform, make sure it can integrate with other key platforms (CRM, core, fraud monitoring tools, funds transfer providers, etc.) that the bank needs during the onboarding process. This will eliminate manual and duplicate efforts and can significantly decrease the amount of time it takes to open an account.

Know your customer (KYC) and know your business (KYB) processes are a great example. Instead of asking a business owner to upload documents, banks can leverage integrations with providers that can verify in real time that the applicant is who they say they are and that their business is in good standing with the secretary of state. This can shave hours or even days off of the application review process. Wherever possible, use these integrations and automation within the onboarding platform to improve the application process for all stakeholders.

Community banking executives are concerned about profitability and economic conditions, according to a report by the CSBS Community Bank Sentiment Index, and they’re looking for more ways to capture deposits in a difficult market. In addition to these concerns, megabanks and neobanks have been growing their market share due to advances in digital customer experience.

Despite the struggle to keep pace with some of these other providers, community and regional banks are still well-positioned to differentiate based on local market factors and relationships with their customer base. By reimagining their commercial onboarding process and implementing technology that allows them to meet their customers where they are, banks can continue to expand their deposit base, even in a challenging market.


Tyler Brantley