Customer onboarding in the era of apps: All aboard the Onboarding Express

Accepting status quo in customer experience at traditional financial institutions is no longer acceptable. There was a time when the only option for customers was which bank to go with. In the age of fintech startups, cryptocurrencies, challenger banks, and virtual finance, the experience of banking is no longer siloed in the eyes of consumers.


Customers are comparing their banking experience to the magic of getting out of an Uber ‘without paying’; the ease with which you can rent out your house on AirBnB; or signing in to Slack with a ‘magic link’ instead of a password you’ll never remember.

At ATB, we are taking the challenge head-on, inspired by what we’ve heard from ATB customers: how they want to interact with their bank and their expectations for in-person and virtual interactions.

To make sure that we are providing exceptional experiences for our customers, we had to change some things about how we operate. One of those changes was the launch of our digital platform. Overlaying our legacy structure and processes, the platform allows our teams to build processes based on the human experiences, instead of the corporate structure.

The first prototype built on the ATB digital platform is Onboarding Express. After launching early in 2018 in a single branch in Calgary, it has now been rolled out to all 175 ATB branches province-wide and has been used to open over 200 new retail bank accounts. Not to mentioned giving our team members the ability to wow our customers.

Onboarding Express leverages the digital platform by eliminating the need to fill out information on multiple forms, destined for different departments, and to have customers repeat the spelling of their names and their exact address multiple times as it is entered in different systems.

Because we have automated connections between back-end portals and removed transcription errors with solutions like scanning driver’s licences, our team was able to overcome the constraints based on business processes and focus on building an experience based on how we want customers to feel when they are opening an account with ATB.

When you’re welcomed to a bike-share app, it can be as pleasant as scanning a QR code on your phone and hopping on your bike in less than a minute. With this in mind, we knew there was a better way to be welcomed into the ATB family. As we build life-long and multi-generational relationships with ATB customers, we really care about making a great first-impression to show customers that’s how we’ll treat them for a lifetime.

With Onboarding Express marking the inaugural success on the digital platform, our team has already begun working to improve other first-impression processes, like business banking and mortgage approvals.

The digital banking platform connecting back end systems and opening up our ability to connect with APIs is what powers these types of solutions. Soon we’ll be connecting our systems with external data like corporate registry information, digital document signing systems, and data storage platforms. Without the digital platform, it would have been nearly impossible to set up these sorts of integrations while maintaining a delightful customers experience.

As we look at different ways to enhance the experience of banking, we’re drawing inspiration not just from our own industry, but from the best apps, companies, and experiences out there. And most importantly, listening to Albertans about how they want to experience banking.

Looking for a new bank account and you have five minutes to spare? Pop into any ATB branch and we’ll bet you’ll leave a little bit happier.

Interested in joining the Customer Onboarding and Experience team eager to make banking work for people? Check out our open positions.

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