The Keys to a Successful Member Onboarding Process


First impressions have a big impact on how relationships are shaped. We know this from interviewing for a job, from meeting new co-workers, and certainly from “meeting the parents.” While existing opinions can be changed, it is much harder to change them than it is to ensure a good impression in the first place. As it relates to credit unions, providing new members a clear path to engage with their financial institution is the key to a good first impression. This will not only increase loyalty and retention, but it will decrease attrition and drive revenue.

So how do you get started?

Implementing a new member onboarding program

New member onboarding is the process of helping your new members acquire the knowledge and skills they’ll need to make the most out of their membership. These programs take the member on a journey that walks them through the first few steps of being a member. While each onboarding strategy will be different, some basic level onboarding should include the following communication:

  • Welcome – warm welcome to the credit union making the member feel valued.
  • Self-services – provide members with all the information needed to get started with their account.
  • Follow-up – ensure that the member has set up their account correctly and offer any support if further assistance is needed.
  • Cross-sell – promote additional products that the member does not already have.

Acquiring new members is just the beginning of the marketing strategy. Keeping these members should be just as important. By implementing new member onboarding programs with touchpoints that include the above, your credit union will exceed your members’ expectations and foster a positive member experience.

Once you have decided to implement a new member onboarding program to your marketing strategy, there are additional variables to consider. Follow these tips to ensure a successful implementation.

Get to your members early

The first 30-90 days are crucial for making a good first impression with a new member. During this time, the member is familiarizing themselves with your credit union and the resources that are available to them. Look at this from the member’s perspective, what do they need to know in the first few months of their membership? Provide them with that information up front and through a channel that you know will be easily accessible.

Make onboarding easy

Remove friction from the sign-up, login, and account access process. No one wants to jump through hoops to retrieve this information. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. How easy it is to locate where a member can log in to their account?
  2. How easy is it for members to actually sign in to their account?
  3. How easy is it for members to set up online banking?
  4. If you have a mobile banking app, do your members know how to access this?
  5. Can you remove any of these steps and get members there more quickly?

In your onboarding touchpoints, streamline the process by providing easy access for the member and walk them through getting set up.

Make members feel welcome

Right off the bat, you want members to feel welcome. You want them to know that they made a good choice by choosing you for their financial needs. This can be done through a personalized welcome email, a letter from the CEO thanking them for their business, a text message, etc. However, whatever you choose, make sure it reaches them immediately after opening their account.

Be frequent and relevant

More than half of all financial institutions who have existing onboarding programs in place indicated that they only communicate with the new member 1-2 times in the first 6 months of their membership. A common misconception by financial institutions is that members do not want to receive a plethora of information after opening a new account. This is incorrect, members do want to receive this information if – and only if – it is relevant and valuable to them. 7-8 touchpoints over the course of 90 days is an optimal number of touchpoints to deliver relevant information to the member without overwhelming them.

Use a personalized approach

Ensure that your members feel connected with your credit union by delivering personalized content. This can be done in a variety of ways:

  1. Dynamic content – content that automatically adapts to pre-defined conditions based on data. When using a CRM, the content adjusts automatically so different members will see different content.
  2. Triggered touchpoints – these determine the automatic send of relevant, timely, and personalized messages through a set of defined if/then rules. An example of this is IF a member has online banking but not mobile banking, then they would receive a touchpoint that advertises mobile banking.
  3. Live data – data set that is used to update any information on all new members within the program.

Use multiple channels

A cross-channel approach is an essential component to the onboarding process. Meet your members where they are. This can include email, text, push-notifications, print, and phone calls. Cross-channel onboardings have been shown to increase customer retention by 130%. This is because we live in a world where no one messaging channel will reach everyone. Each channel has different strengths that draw in some members more than others. Stop using a one-size-fits-all onboarding approach and create a strategy that uses multiple channels. Through this, you will reach members more effectively and shoot your engagement through the roof.


Automation is an AI solution that allows a seamless onboarding process. When setting up an onboarding program, consider automation from the start. Manual onboarding processes are not only cumbersome, but onboarding journeys are becoming increasingly more dynamic and interconnected. Automate your outbound communication to eliminate manual labor and increase operational efficiency and responsiveness.


To have a successful onboarding process and know where to optimize your efforts, you need to understand the data. What does onboarding success look like for your members? What are your objectives? Determine the results you want from an onboarding program to help you determine the metrics you need to track. That being said, there are a few suggested KPIs you should track for optimization:

  1. New members – provides insight into how well your onboarding process is working.
  2. Open-to-click rates – gives you a better idea of the onboarding’s performance.
  3. Product/service penetration rates – measures the success of specific products or services.

Every member holds the value of your credit union, and your ability to successfully engage with them in a relevant, timely manner is essential to growing your membership base. Lead your members to financial success through new member onboarding.


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