Look around you. I’m sure you’ve noticed.
The financial landscape is changing dramatically before our eyes, spurred by the evolving expectations of how customers want to connect with their institutions of choice.
Emerging customer demand for instant 24/7 service and seamless digital experiences has initiated a boom of digital lending channels being built to adapt and accommodate these quickly changing expectations.
With a fintech industry driven to find new and better lending solutions, we’re now seeing that digital lending can provide a wealth of benefits for customers and financial institutions alike, from customer acquisition and experience to growth and operational efficiency.
And what is fast becoming clear is that institutions who are not willing or able to keep up and adapt are being left behind, trapped in brick-and-mortar mindsets and legacy systems while their competitors digitally outpace them.
While choosing to go digital is the right move for many institutions, offering digital lending isn’t just a lift and shift from your in-branch experience. There is a host of needs to consider when creating a memorable digital lending experience and, to do so in a way that will consistently meet customer expectations and secure your institution’s future in this landscape, you need foresight, strategy and planning at the enterprise level.
So, is the time right for your institution to get online? To help you make that decision, here are 3 questions you’ll need to consider before taking your lending online.
1. What brand experiences do customers expect online and can you deliver on it?
Traditionally, lending and credit application conversations happened in branch and face-to-face with a financial services advisor. But as more of the core experience is moving online, that engagement needs to happen not just round-the-clock and seamlessly, but be able to offer an overall customer experience that is equal to or better than a branch visit.
If not already there, a majority of your customers are currently pivoting to digital banking solutions, and so migrating your operations online requires not just a simple makeover, but a full rethink of the customer experience that needs to be tackled at a broad enterprise level.
Whether by your own hand or with third-party vendors, it is important to have a comprehensive, appealing, and consistent brand operating in market that can meet each and every one of their digital expectations. Because your digital offerings will likely be the start of a customer’s experience, you need to think holistically about your brand across all the touchpoints.
For example, an intuitive and engaging combination of technology and application design makes for a powerful digital experience. From a tech standpoint, this means implementing the tools that can move a customer from discovery to approval with speed and convenience – how you create unique offers, automate approvals and ensure a seamless application experience are all going to be important to today’s customers. Aesthetically, integrating common visual grammar across all touch points – from the interface to the language used – makes them instantly recognizable as yours.
You may only have one chance to connect with new customers – make it a memorable one.
2. Does your institution have a digital acquisition and engagement strategy?
“If you build it, they will come.” The motto works for a dreamy Hollywood baseball movie, but much less so in the current reality of digital lending.
Simply putting your institution “out there” – whether migrating operations to a generic online presence or randomly throwing piecemeal digital solutions against the wall – isn’t going to bring in new customers. You need to know where you’re going, you need a strategy, and this takes time, focus and resources.
Building a digital acquisition and engagement strategy involves going back to the beginning and asking yourself some foundational questions: Who is your target market? Where do they live online? How are you expecting them to find you?
Clearly laying out your intentions this way allows you to focus in on where your strategy should be pointed, but it also opens up the way to ask maybe the most important question of all, one that will determine your future success: where do you want to connect with customers in the future?
The rapid evolution of fintech means that investing in digital will continue to open up a spectrum of new opportunities for customers to find you – not only on your own digital channels but through intermediary organizations that can provide indirect lending channels and new volume and customers to your institution – and so your strategy needs to be flexible to adapt to these future opportunities.
Having a strong understanding of your intentions and your prospects, supported by research and the wealth of customer data you likely have at your disposal, can help you find your target customers and create strategies to draw them to your digital lending application.
3. Is your institution ready to go digital?
Digital lending is not a trend. We know it’s already here, but it’s here to stay and it’s changing the rules of the game. But are you ready to play? If you are, then given the stakes at hand, the scope of change, and the potential payoff, you’ll need your whole team on board.
Delivering a strong digital experience – and one that will be consistently successful – requires buy-in and alignment from your entire organization, from marketing to IT, operations to lending staff. This is a team effort and if your key teams don’t have alignment – both with each other and with the tools they’ll need to create and maintain the digital experience – the project may fail before it sails.
If you want to create a seamless, comprehensive and engaging online customer experience that flows naturally through all areas of a customer’s journey with your organization, you need to equip your team – especially the lending staff – with seamless, comprehensive and engaging tools and the accompanying policies and procedures to create and support that experience. With great tools comes great experience.
For example, if a new customer is acquired through a social media ad, then it’s likely they will want to stay digital in their communications with you. This means you need to have the infrastructure set up to meet your target audience where they already are so that they feel their needs are instantly met.
The way forward
Digital lending is fast becoming a major part of an institution’s growth and acquisition strategy, but it must be carefully thought through and aligned to your organization’s overall goals and roadmap.
If you answered “yes” to any or all these questions, you already have a vision of what the future of your institution could be and you`re ready to build out your institution`s digital experience. Pairing that vision with decisive action is perhaps the hardest step in the journey, but will set your institution on a clear path to success.
Valeyo delivers purpose-built digital lending solutions that help financial institutions grow, innovate, and create stronger, more connected experiences. Our proprietary loan origination platform, Valeyo Ori, is changing how lending is delivered across traditional and digital channels. Book your demo today.
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