Banks, credit unions, and direct lenders work in a very competitive market. They also deal with one of the most sensitive and vital aspects of peoples’ lives: money. Or the lack thereof. In this context, customer service is crucial to attract and retain clients and do good business. Improving customer service for lending businesses is vital.
Why Is Customer Care Crucial for Lending Businesses?
The landscape of customer care has changed in the past years. According to a Gladly report, 61% of clients want personalized services more than fast ones. They want to feel your business treats them like humans, not case numbers. In the lending business, your customer service must focus on the person wishing to borrow money from you.
Customers also expect all businesses to provide them with multiple channels of communication. Over 50% of respondents said their interaction with chatbots and FAQs was disappointing. Some of the report’s highlights:
- Over 70% of customers desire a consistent experience across all communication channels.
- People resent telling the same story to different customer support agents.
- Repetition, the lack of multiple channels, and variance across channels determine clients to leave.
- Receiving conflicting answers from different agents to the same questions is a recipe for disaster.
- Over 90% of all customers want to skip the Interactive Voice Response systems and robots most companies use. IVR is a nuisance. People want to talk to live people.
Borrowing money is already stressful as it is. The last thing people need is inconsistent information. Say the client wants a Cashfloat instant payday loan to solve an emergency. Time is not on their side. In a crisis, peoples’ emotions are all over the place. Good business means offering the same data across the FAQs section, the email answer, and the phone conversation with the agent.
The same goes for all types of loans and all categories of borrowers. In the direct lending landscape, borrowers must know what to expect. Your customer service is the part that can make or break your business. The winning combination, in this case, is to provide speed, personalization, and consistency.
The questions every lending business needs to ask – for each client – are:
- Who is this person?
- What needs do I need to meet?
- How can this person benefit from the best I have to offer efficiently?
- How can I improve customer service to attract and retain clients?
According to the report mentioned above, 92% of customers need less than three poor customer support experiences to stop dealing with a company. Twenty-six percent need just one bad customer service experience to go somewhere else.
5 Ways to Improve Customer Service for Your Lending Business
1. Invest in People
We live in a hi-tech world. But until we build AI to replace humans, your customer service agents are your best assets. Financial training and customer service training are mandatory conditions. They should be able not only to answer questions but offer solutions.
One issue in the lending business is the conditions of a loan. Say your client looks for a payday loan, a personal loan, an auto loan, etc.
- Your agents should be able to provide all the necessary information on the spot.
- They should all have the same knowledge regarding credit scores, interest rates, etc.
- All agents should be able to guide a customer through the application process.
- Your customer service agents should be available 24/7.
Seamless customer support from A (first interaction) to Z (signing the loan contract) determines the client to come back and recommend your services within their social network.
2. Build Omni-Channels for Communication
The same hi-tech world allows you to provide clients with a wide range of digital solutions for seamless communication. According to an Ernst & Young Consumer Banking Survey, the multiple-channel experience is a crucial area for improvement among banks, direct lenders, and credit unions.
- First, you have to diversify. It means that you need to tap into clients’ usual means of communication and offer them access to those channels. From branded apps to social media, you have all the tools you need.
- Secondly, the information needs to be consistent. Make sure that any update, discount, or offer disperses across all platforms.
- Thirdly, your clients need to have the option to switch between devices before completing an activity. Studies showed borrowers start their research on their smartphones and then migrate on tablets or the PC to gather details. They also pick up the phone for confirmation from your agents. In other words, device flexibility is necessary.
3. Welcome Financial Technology in Your Company
Financial technology is one of the best customer support methods you could embrace. Customer service means more than having an agent answering a phone. It means top-notch customer experience with your entire facility. FinTech solutions are widely available and you, as a lender, can benefit from them:
- Implement online tools that answer your clients’ inquiries about interest rate calculations, credit score checks, deductibles, discounts, etc.;
- Consider mobile payment options;
- Consider AI and Machine Learning to process (via smartphone) customer data. They help you create personalized loan options on the spot. Such tools can assess people’s credit to determine eligibility. They provide access to loans to people with no credit history.
- Video-teller devices are also a good idea.
- Invest in customer support solutions tailored to your business.
4. Be More than a Lender – Become a Trusted Advisor
Since the 2008 global financial crisis, peoples’ trust in banks, credit unions, and direct lenders withered. While things got better throughout the years, many of us distrust all forms of money lending outlets. As a direct lending business, you need to stand out.
The customer experience that makes the difference means one or more of the following:
- Provide clients with upfront information;
- Sell your products to clients only after you understand their needs;
- Advise clients on the best solution for their needs. Even if they think they want a particular type of loan, offer them a better option.
- Offer additional services besides the traditional lending ones.
- Provide clients with personalized experiences depending on their past interactions with your lending business.
5. Make Customer Service a Part of Your Business Plan
Customer experience should never be an afterthought. A customer service plan should be one of the building blocks of your business and marketing plan.
- Start with a market study to understand who your customers are and what they need from you;
- Ask your customers for constant feedback;
- Listen to what they have to say;
- Implement the viable solutions they required;
- Check different customer support platforms;
- Budget them accordingly;
- Revise the plan and adjust it.
Building a customer service plan is no easy feat. However, it will help you foster the trust of your clients. It will set you apart from the competition. Excellent customer experience is one of the critical elements that determine customer loyalty.