What are API's?
API's acts as communicators or translators between two applications, passing requests and responses back and forth while exposing only the code necessary to complete the transaction. Meaning, it provides a secure and standardized way for applications to work with each other and deliver the information or functionality requested without any end user intervention.
That’s great news for end users, as API's can assure necessary processes are handled in the background, while the frontend experience remains virtually effortless. An example could be the automated collection and presentation of a name and address based on an entered social security number, commonly used in e-commerce checkout solutions.
B2B customer onboarding definition
The process of a customer signing up for or registering to use your service or product is what we define as a customer onboarding process. Today, this happens digitally more often than not, with increasing customer expectations of smooth and 100% digital B2B processes.
What we see in a lot of cases is a tendency to ask for too much information from the customer when signing up. This creates an onboarding process that is slow, time-consuming and filled with churn. In other words, a poor customer experience with low conversion rates.
It also creates a risk of reduced data quality, due to human errors with faulty entries, in turn increasing risk (from legal standpoints) and costs (from a marketing and operational standpoint).
From personal identification to company relation
As a customer onboarding, signup or registration process starts, you'll want to know who you are talking to on an individual level. Therefore it is probably best practice to use some form of personal identity verification at the very beginning of a B2B customer onboarding process. In Sweden for example, that could be a BankID integration or similar services providing the same information.
From that point on (or even before that), a lot of companies tend to make it difficult for the user, by requiring a lot of information to be entered manually. If the onboarding process doesn't require personal information to be provided by the user, it definitely requires company information such as name, id, addresses and so on in most cases we've seen.
Another way of collecting company data, could be through an API retrieving a persons registered company engagements. Given that most people with signatory rights in a company have some form of board assignment, ownership or directorship, this will enable company data collection in the background, only requiring a personal identity verifier to begin with.
If a person only has one company engagement you can assume that the signup, order or registration is for that company. When multiple engagements occur, you can provide a list of companies to choose from, where the engagements are registered.
Company & representative audit
Increased compliance requirements, in a growing amount of industries, are forcing companies to collect and document more customer data than ever. Audits of companies and their representatives are therefore crucial to ensure legal compliance and avoid risk.
Information like PEP and/or RCA status, sanctions lists status, beneficial ownership status, financial information and company activity are all data points that are useful in an AML audit and can be collected through API services.
Setting up a framework for what data that needs to be collected and verified, discrepancies and warning flags to look for and how to deal with them, is a good place to start when creating or updating your customer onboarding process.
Signing and signatory control
Before initiating an agreement signing sequence, which preferably would be a digital one (e-sign), an audit of a buyers signatory rights should be conducted. Business hijacking or fraud is not uncommon and causes companies and its representatives a lot of headache and costs when they occur. Ensuring that a person has signatory rights is therefor a great way of securing your deal, as well as reducing risk of being implicated in illegal activities.
API's can help you automate the signatory right control, but also present the user with all the valid signing combinations (and invite other signatories to sign), to smoothen your customer onboarding process.
Adding an e-signing solution to your customer onboarding feels like a no-brainer today to reduce manual labour, risk of faulty data entries and snail mail delays or mishaps.
Complete flowchart example
This is what a complete B2B customer onboarding process might look like, where the numbered boxes are API's. This includes commonly used data such as basic company information, PEP and sanctions screenings, beneficial owners, signatory rights etc.