Consumer lending plays an important role in the financial services industry, providing its customers with the necessary funds to make purchases, investments, and other financial decisions.
However, the success of a consumer lending business is not just determined by the amount of loans issued, but it’s also heavily influenced by the quality of its customer experience (CX).
In this article, we explore a few ways how the consumer lending industry can work to develop a great CX, and, ultimately, build long-term value for both lenders and their customers.
1. Taking accessibility to new levels
The consumer lending industry often helps to provide financial support to those who can’t always attain it via traditional means – e.g. personal loans via mainstream banks. Therefore, it should be the prerogative of consumer lending businesses to make themselves and their services as accessible as possible to customers.
From a CX perspective, consumer lenders should aim to broaden access to their services, resources, and support in a way that is genuinely useful for their customers.
One way of achieving this expansion of accessibility is through the use of omnichannel communications. Rather than limiting customers to individual channels – i.e. telephone – omnichannel allows customers to attain the support and advice they need through a number of different ways. This can include email, live chat, instant messaging, and social media. It allows for an customer representative to share share advice and service options over any of the customer’s preferred channels, thereby providing a new dimension to customer support.
Omnichannel communications is often included as a core feature of contact center software. It enables one agent to quickly switch between channels in just one interface, meaning they don’t require several applications to conduct customer conversations over several channels.
2. Empowering customer self-service
The implementation of customer self-service tools has been on the rise for a while now, with apps and online platforms being commonplace for consumer lending companies.
While the benefits of self-service for businesses include cost savings, increased efficiency, and a reduced need for direct customer support, it’s also a shift that’s heavily driven by customer demand. According to Harvard Business Review, a huge 81% of customers attempt to handle matters themselves before contacting customer support.
Interactive voice response (IVR) is ideally placed to support customers in handling queries and requests. Using just their telephone, a customer can conduct activities such as balance inquiries and tracking loan applications.
IVR is an entirely automated process. Customers are greeted by a prerecorded message and keypad options to help them navigate the call. The function can be use entirely as a self-service option or help a caller reach the most appropriate representative. While it helps customers to resolve their own requests, it also can significantly reduce any unnecessary time spent on the phone by agents.
Where IVR can be taken further for consumer lending customers, in particular, self-service is through combining it swift and secure over-the-phone payment. This gives customers the option to make loan repayments using just their telephone keypad to input card details and without any agent involvement whatsoever. This type of functionality can also be applied to outbound IVR. For example, where the system automatically contacts certain customers who are late with overdue payments and offers the option to make repayments on the same automated call.
3. Building value through communication
Just as large financial services companies are obliged to uphold strong and sound communication with their respective customer bases, the same principle is also very relevant for consumer lenders – particularly around financial education.
With typically higher interest rates compared to a personal bank loan, for example, and sometimes a lower level of financial literacy among their customer bases, it’s an important responsibility of consumer lending businesses to provide financial education to their customers. This can include helping them to better understand their respective financial situations and make informed decisions.
This a shared value initiative, too. Helping to inform and educate customers builds trust, brand loyalty, and a better overall CX.
One example would be creating informative materials (e.g. blogs or brochures) explaining consumer lending and its key components. This could cover an array topics such as clearly defined product benefits, information on repayment schedules, or advice on responsible lending.
What’s more, the distribution of this type of information can be automated through using platforms such as HubSpot, and can be integrated with your CRM or call management software.
4. Considering the remote factor
The rise of the virtual contact center has presented a multitude of benefits to businesses in recent years, including cost savings, scalability, and global access to agent talent pools.
The use of remote agents can help to grow consumer lenders reach to under-served areas, improve agent availability in new time zones, and provide a multilingual service – all while keeping financial data secure with cloud technology.
This was very much the case for consumer lender, 4finance. The firm had aims of global expansion but this was hindered by challenges in adapting to infrastructure across new geographical locations. 4finance adopted a single cloud contact center solution to replace its physical telephony system to better facilitate serve customer markets. Since its implementation, the firm was able to quickly scale to new locations, better handle peak call periods, and collectively increase active talk time with customers.
5. Learning from customer data
CX and customer analytics are very much interconnected; you can’t really improve the first without understanding the second.
Some examples of how using data to improve the CX in consumer lending include:
Personalized offerings such as tailored loan packages through building strong awareness of the customers’ unique needs
Service improvement by understanding customer pain points and applying this knowledge into how you can better serve them
Relationship management by using data to recognize the unique situations of customers – e.g. identifying customers at risk of defaulting on their loans and taking steps to prevent it
Customer data is an incredibly powerful asset because it can drive significant performance improvement. But how can consumer lending companies obtain this data and easily compile it in a way to draw meaningful trends?
One example would be using a CRM, such as Salesforce. In the case of consumer lending, you can build detailed profiles based on your specific customer demographics (e.g. income, credit history and occupations). This will help you to better understand unique customer needs so that you can tailor your offerings accordingly.
Another example is the use of reporting mechanisms to gain a holistic awareness of your interactions with customers. This can include tools such as real-time contact center dashboards in which you can comprehensively view your customer’s experience of directly interacting with agents. Dashboards can also be customized with completely unique CX metrics, and these can be continually monitored to ensure optimal levels of performance.
VCC Live in the consumer lending industry
Through our cloud contact center software, we partner with consumer lenders to help them deliver a strong CX. With our platform you can keep customers engaged, automate communications, boost self-service, and always stay secure.