The disruption of the past 18 months brought a surge of interest in digital solutions to keep us connected while maintaining a physical distance. But as restrictions lift, adjusting to the so-called “new normal” will bring additional digital demands that may have grown out of the pandemic but are becoming a permanent part of the landscape.
Among other shifts, both employees and consumers have become attached to the convenience of remote work and digital service. Consumers don’t want to give up the ability to transact and bank from anywhere, and employees don’t want to give up the advantages of working remotely. This has accelerated digital transformation within many credit unions, and led to a year-over-year (YoY) increase in membership of 3.3% as of April 2021.
To ensure a smooth path forward, credit unions, banks and other lending institutions must focus on core systems and how they fit into the overall digital strategy. While many banks and credit unions had to pivot into digital processes last year, these same institutions now must evaluate whether they have what they need to sustain growth into the new digital future.
While some credit unions saw membership increase during the pandemic, others were forced to close, or saw no growth at all. Fast-tracking the way back to sustainable growth requires an honest look at the systems, processes and technology in place to determine whether they are efficient and agile enough to provide next-gen service and functionality on both the back- and front-end.
This blog looks at the best strategies for boosting productivity and growth and evaluating whether your core system complements your lending institution’s operational model.
1. Utilizing Cross-Sell Opportunities: In Branch & Online
According to CUNA Mutual Group’s latest Trends Report, loan balances within credit unions increased 0.6% in April—double the 0.3% pace reported in April 2020—and 5% during the last 12 months. As job creation and rising consumer confidence feed this acceleration, lending institutions must consider whether they have the systems and technology in place to take advantage of growth opportunities.
One major area to consider is the ability to effectively cross-sell. While lenders have traditionally relied on face-to-face relationship building, our digital-first economy demands a shift in how cross-selling occurs. Consumers are increasingly comfortable opening accounts and applying for loans online, especially from their mobile devices.
The result is a need for streamlined digital account opening and lending capabilities, including the ability to seamlessly collect and share critical personal information from consumers. The right consumer loan origination software (LOS) can make collecting necessary personal information and documentation simple while also ensuring that it is accessible to all necessary departments on the backend. This can power-up cross-selling abilities by enabling loan officers with the information needed to offer the right customers the right product at the right time.
The key is to leverage technology that allows you to take advantage in the moment to sell more. Without it, you’re likely missing opportunities.
2. Delivering the Right Online Application Experience
While some customers may still prefer to go into a branch for more complex queries, digital is the preferred channel for many services. Consumers enjoy the convenience, accessibility and ease of filling out forms online – but only when the process is simple and fast.
Online account opening software for credit unions needs to balance simplicity with accuracy to reap the rewards of digitization. When you evaluate the customer journey and experience of your consumer loan origination systems you will understand how long it takes to complete, how easy the process is, and how clear the language is – gaps in any of these areas can hinder the application process and lead to a higher abandonment rate and errors. The higher the possibility of error, the more time staff must spend on the backend doing manual checks and correcting mistakes.
3. Offering Fast, Automated Decisions
Automating manual tasks in your LOS can free up employees to focus on higher-value tasks, but it also makes the experience more enjoyable for consumers. Presenting consumers with the option to “apply online” and then requiring that they finish a loan application offline does a disservice to your members – and your brand.
The optimal experience is a truly digital end-to-end application process that includes intelligent autofill to cut down on the time spent entering information. With many people using mobile devices to open accounts and apply for loans, the process must be as streamlined as possible. Manual processes will not serve this purpose.
Automating the decision process with advanced digital lending software means your members can get immediate decisions. It also frees up loan officers to focus on more complex applications that may require more scrutiny.
4. Maintaining 24/7 Omnichannel Service
Brick-and-mortar branches have limited operating hours, but today’s consumer requires 24/7 access and service for their lending needs. This 24/7 accessibility requires the right digital infrastructure, including web-based loan origination software, that allows credit unions to serve customers where they are, at any time.
Expanding your digital footprint can boost engagement and impressions by making sure your lending institution is “always-on” when consumers need it. This might mean expanding into new digital mediums like social media or leveraging online chat functionality, but it also means making sure your consumer LOS has comprehensive digital capabilities that play well with the other tools in your tech stack. Whether a consumer is meeting you in the branch or online, the experience should feel the same: easy, seamless and fast.
5. Working with the Right Core Integration Partners
The right technology support is a must-have in today’s climate. Determining what is right for you doesn’t necessarily mean getting the most complex digital loan origination system; it’s about finding the right integration partner who can set you up for long-term success by providing flexibility and efficiency to scale.
MeridianLink Consumer—our consumer loan origination software (LOS)—digitizes and streamlines the digital lending process while also connecting to integration partners like Sharetec. Leveraging MeridianLink Consumer along with Sharetech enables credit unions to enhance productivity by reducing redundancy. Not only do these tools allow for data transparency, but they can improve collaboration between departments so you can provide the best consumer experience possible.
The MeridianLink One platform includes everything a credit union, bank or other lending institution to digitize and streamline the lending process along with everything associated with it, from account opening to loan origination to collections to analytics and reporting – even cross-selling if you offer mortgages. Speak with a digital lending expert today.