All about onboarding: Employees, customers and companies. How it works and what tools to use

01 July 2022

Updated 04 July 2022

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Onboarding is the first decisive interaction that users have with an organization or business. Establishing experiential onboarding processes that cover all the needs and phases for the effective registration of new members is a guarantee of success for any company or institution. 

This concept, although widely recognized in the area of human resources, is equally applicable to the commercial, sales or purchasing functions, as well as to other operational sections within a company. Thus, we can talk about onboarding of employees, customers or even businesses (suppliers, partners, collaborators...).

In this article we will delve into each of the different types of subjects that can be targeted by onboarding processes, the phases they go through and the considerations that must be taken into account to design customer, employee and business journeys in an optimal and up-to-date way.

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What is onboarding?

Onboarding is a term created by business management professionals to refer to the process by which new employees, customers or suppliers join an organization or company as full users. This mechanism begins at certain times depending on the type of user being onboarded.

In it, both the user and the company obtain and provide information. This transmission of sensitive data must be done in accordance with the regulatory standards set by the legislation of the market where the company is performing the onboarding, and all aspects related to privacy, reliable identification and secure storage must be carefully considered.

There are other terms closely related to onboarding. Thus, this procedure is also referred to by many as induction or hiring. In the case of customer onboarding, we speak of acquisition process, contracting or the standardized KYC (Know Your Customer). For the registration of freelancers, freelancers or companies as partners, suppliers or partners, the counterpart terms that are similar to onboarding would be KYB (Know Your Business) and due diligence.

Minimum steps for any onboarding process

Therefore, we see how organizations comply with a series of minimum phases for onboarding an employee, customer or supplier: 

  • Obtaining your identity information and other associated data: Identification documentation, mailing address, account number, payment information, tax information, telephone number and perhaps other information such as preferences associated with the relationship you will have with the organization.
  • The verification that these data are truthful and original: With more or less exhaustive anti-fraud controls depending on the subsequent operations that the user will carry out once the onboarding process has been completed.
  • The registration of this data in the database of customers, employees, suppliers or partners of the company: Storing the information with the corresponding practices.
  • The generation of credentials to access the organization: Either for an employee to have access to the tools he will need to perform his tasks or to the facilities where he will perform them, or for a customer to enter his personal area to manage the products and services contracted.
  • The implementation of a series of actions to achieve a good fit: In the case of employees, the onboarding process is also known as organizational socialization, planning specific meetings for them to get to know their colleagues and other work teams with whom they will interact. In the case of a client, sending them communications with information about the products and services contracted as well as other complementary ones.
  • The evaluation of the results obtained and the follow-up of the user in the first months after joining the organization: In this last phase, all previous phases are evaluated and an assessment is made of the user's current status to determine if he is comfortable or if needs have arisen that the company can address to improve his position as a loyal customer, committed employee or trusted partner. Satisfaction surveys, interviews or reviews will ensure that users are not lost at decisive moments.

Each company performs onboarding processes with different standards and defined phases. However, the points mentioned above must be complied with in order to achieve a minimum level of satisfaction in new users and to avoid risks during the process. This is a key moment not only for the end user, but also for the company, which risks incorporating users with illicit intentions that could jeopardize the integrity of the organization, exposing itself to sanctions and problems as well as disturbing the rest of the components.

Digitizing incorporation

Today, with the rise of the digital economy and remote interaction between users and companies, onboarding processes have become digital. This has enabled many businesses to transform their model to be scalable, more sustainable and productive while responding to the current demands and needs of users who demand to be able to operate from anywhere and at any time with total flexibility. 

Thus, the concept of digital onboarding has crept into the vocabulary of many companies in recent years. However, this technological version of the traditional onboarding process has been with companies in sectors such as banking, finance, insurance and telco for much longer, although it is only recently that all industries have begun to embrace it as a mandatory standard.

This method of onboarding is a specific type of onboarding that follows its own rules, since identity fraud in the online environment is more pronounced than in the face-to-face environment, although it occurs in both. Therefore, remote onboarding requires the use of anti-fraud technologies that verify the identity of users as effectively - or in some cases even more effectively - than a human in a face-to-face contact.

Employee onboarding

Many talent management teams wonder how to develop employee onboarding that brings advantages and benefits to both parties without the need to invest amounts of time and resources that the organization cannot afford. The answer lies in the concept we discussed earlier, digital onboarding.

Now, many companies operate with a full-remote perspective with offshore teams in different locations, which has forced them to establish more comprehensive employee onboarding processes and the creation of access for login, clocking in and other area use cases done in a completely digitized way. In any case, onboarding in human resources and talent management has its own rules.

In short, onboarding serves to welcome the employee to the organization as planned and to ensure that the signing of the contract is carried out quickly and smoothly. All the stages from the publication of the offer until the employee has passed the probationary period must be fixed and considered. Having holistic onboarding software will allow talent teams to put aside the more cumbersome and mechanical tasks to focus on the employee and give them the best possible experience.

Employee onboarding processes - of new workers - are crucial for any company. Giving a quality reception and welcome to new members of the company will ensure their motivation. Here we are talking about Candidate and Employee Journeys, since the flow starts even before the employee's first day of work in the company, at the time of recruitment.

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Taking care of this method will be decisive in the employee's perception of the company he/she works for, adjusting the expectations before the incorporation to the reality once in the company. In human resources, there are a number of fairly standardized key aspects to take into account when designing an employee onboarding process, called the 4 C's:

  • Clarity: One of the most common problems in the first months is the bombardment of scattered information and the difficulty for the employee to firmly understand his or her role in the organization. Being clear and concise at all stages of the employee journey will ensure retention and avoid misunderstandings. Explaining their tasks and responsibilities, the tools they have at their disposal to work with and the resources available to them is essential.
  • Compliance: Particularly sensitive for positions where sensitive and confidential information will be handled, defining the corporate policies to be complied with, from legal obligations to security or PRL standards, will avoid many problems.
  • Culture: Also known as the socialization phase, the employee must be introduced to the rest of the organization and introduced to the work groups with diligence and friendliness. Making them aware of the company's culture, dynamics and ways of acting will ensure that they feel comfortable and fit in with the rest of their colleagues.
  • Connection: Providing the employee with the relevant information is necessary not only at a regulatory level, linking it to the compliance point discussed above, but also for the employee to be productive and capable. Giving them access to the necessary systems as well as to the people from whom they will need help to develop certain tasks or projects is a must.

Some companies choose to assign a "buddy" or colleague to guide the new employee in the first few days. This person can be a member of the human resources team or your own manager, if you have one. Providing him/her with organizational charts, access to the intranet and organizing induction meetings is crucial.

Therefore, having a general onboarding plan and adapting it to each employee is a necessity so that the objectives proposed with the incorporation of this person are met, as well as the employee's expectations. 

Having tools such as electronic signatures and certified communication so that the relationship between the company and the employee is fluid, agile and does not generate costs and wasted time is crucial today, as well as identity verification systems for employees who are teleworking. Likewise, for those in a face-to-face office, access can be granted through facial biometrics to avoid queues at the entrance.

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Customer onboarding

Better known as Know Your Customer (KYC), the acquisition of new customers is a standardized process across all industries and requires strong identity verification and AML controls depending on the sector of activity to which the business belongs. Registering users and onboarding them without delay is now within the reach of any business thanks to the most innovative digital onboarding tools.

This term is also known as customer onboarding, an integrated phase within the most complete and extensive customer journey. Designing attractive sales, marketing and new user registration systems will increase conversion rates to reach the proposed goals.

KYB: Know Your Business and onboarding for companies

Today, all companies function through interaction with others and the support of reliable partners who help them achieve their goals. The new way of doing business is different from what was considered standard just 15 years ago. Today, creating a network of allied and reliable companies is the key to success.

Onboarding for companies - commonly known as the Know Your Business (KYB) or Due Diligence process - consists of registering freelancers, freelancers, SMEs or large companies as partners, suppliers or strategic partners of our company. The process is not too different from KYC as far as information verification is concerned, although the data to be checked is much more exhaustive and is based on business documentation that guarantees that the organization is reliable and that we are doing business with a safe company that really exists.

Due diligence processes try to make a complete x-ray of the business from both internal and external sources before an acquisition or merger, although it is also used in more sensitive sectors where it is strategic to have this type of company onboarding tools to ensure the security of the business.

Offboarding: closing the cycle

The latest trends in onboarding and the new tactics proposed have brought this term into use. Offboarding closes the cycle when a user or subject wants to leave their business, employment or partner relationship with our company. Leaving everything well tied up and sealed with regulatory support thanks, for example, to the electronic signature is an insurance guarantee against any eventual complication.

Therefore, we have seen all the advantages and benefits of onboarding in all its variants and typologies. This business process is capable of providing retention, loyalty, satisfaction and motivation to all types of users. Regarding the organization, onboarding generates great benefits in terms of profitability, cost reduction, time and ease in achieving human resources, marketing and operations objectives.

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