MeridianLink’s Devesh Khare, Vice President of Product and Brandon Sisola, Group Product Manager, highlight 10 practical answers (steps) to improve digital lending and account opening.
Back in August, MeridianLink collaborated with Jim Marous—Owner and CEO of the Digital Banking Report—regarding the "2020 Digital Lending and Account Opening Review." This highly sought-after review, which can be yours FREE, polled over 400 banks and credit unions throughout the United States. The results gathered from the review, and the ongoing conversations that spurred from the findings, serve as the basis for our list of 10 answers.
The summary provided within this blog is merely a brief overview of each answer. We highly recommend you watch the short webinar here to get the entire scoop.
1) Don't Fake Digital | All or Nothing!
Many financial institutions are offering digital lending and online account opening software solutions, which is great. However, many FI’s fail to provide a true digital lending experience. Unfortunately, without a true end-to-end digital lending experience to support their demands, many educated consumers have noticed it actually takes less time to complete the application in-branch, than it does online. One major area of improvement FI’s can be mindful of is the incorporation of in-session document signing. This practice will no doubt help eliminate trips to the branch and provide a better consumer experience.
2) Customer Experience is the First Priority
The first major step in designing a digital lending and online account process is to think about the consumer experience. Simply offering a digital option for your members and customers is not enough. The digital process must be fast, convenient, and hassle-free. Otherwise, the drop off rates enter high numbers, and that’s not going to bode well with your institution. One easy tip to enhance your organization's digital experience is to offer live video chat support for questions throughout the application process. This way the consumer can carry their momentum, by receiving help/guidance during their digital transaction.
We’re all glued to our smart phones. It’s a convenient way to access things we want, when we want them. Therefore, having a mobile-friendly setup is a vital component toward a successful digital lending and online opening strategy. In other words, “think mobile.” The majority of the population spends copious amounts of time on their mobile device paying bills, ordering groceries, and many other vital tasks. Why not transition that notion to digital lending and account opening? A successful digital strategy must rely on a mobile-first approach.
4) Speed is Not Optional
Offering your existing members and newly added customers a wide range of application options sounds great, correct? But if the applications take an extremely long time to complete, or run poorly, your financial institution will quickly be overlooked. It is important to remove unnecessary steps and reduce friction (wherever possible) within the application process. This area of the digital strategy is where third-party integrations play a crucial role. Integrations from supportive and proven third-party vendors help create a streamlined and quick application process.
5) End-to-End Functionality is Expected
An end-to-end digital lending solution encompasses everything that must be done to complete the application. Having a beautifully laid out, articulate, and easy to use point-of-sale (POS) solution is important, however, the back-end must not be neglected. This crucial element is where strong integrations can make or break your process. We highly recommend you look at your digital process from all aspects, including the back-end, thus ensuring your staff is not stuck with manual tasks.
6) 'Save and Resume' Defers Abandonment
Traditionally speaking, simple application requests—such as credit cards, or basic deposit accounts— translate to a quick and straightforward process. However, more complex applications, like home equity for example, require more information. The applicant may not have all of their information on hand that’s required when they initially start the process. The user-friendly ability to save and resume an application is absolutely vital for a smooth and painless digital experience.
7) Automate, Automate, Automate
If there’s one universal truth out there for financial institutions everywhere, it’s that they can’t get enough automated processes. Now more than ever back-end office staff have come to expect automation to help fulfill their everyday tasks. Many staff members are still working remotely and having access to more automation processes equates to greater efficiencies, with less manual errors. Automation breaks down into a twofold process; it includes the actual functionalities of the POS, and its ability to integrate with other products needed to complete the application.
8) Universal Application Simplifies and Saves
One way to build trust with your existing members and customers is through continuity and consistency of service. When customers apply for basic necessities, like deposit accounts or credit cards, it's vital to provide an aesthetic that looks and feels similar to one another. This builds consumer confidence, and also helps with your branding initiatives. It’s recommend you keep similar applications virtually identical. For example, your consumer lending applications, mortgage applications, and deposit account applications should all be standardized.
9) Third-Party Vendors Keep You Competitive
In terms of innovation, your ability to successfully leverage third-party integrations is crucial. This applies to both your POS and back-end processes. But with so many outstanding software development companies out there it’s relatively easy to utilize their services and remain competitive. Keep in mind experts exist in very niche areas, like digital document signing, so leverage their services as you see fit for your institution.
10) Embrace Digital Growth and Change
By now it should be apparent that digital is going mainstream and is here to stay. Arguably you could say it’s due to the pandemic, or a fad, but the fact of the matter is more and more financial institutions are leveraging digital’s capabilities to meet the demand of the consumer. It's important to have an innovative mindset and understand how you can meet the demands of the consumer at the early stages of technological innovation. Those who are hesitant may be overlooked.