As more members use mobile apps and other remote channels to apply for consumer loans, credit unions naturally focus on improving the member experience for those channels.
But focusing on face-to-face lending interactions is more important now than ever.
In the TimeTrade 2017 State of Credit Unions Survey, 71% of members said visiting branch offices is still their primary way of interacting with their credit union.
According to the report, “When it comes to major, complex transactions such as opening an account or securing a loan, members are looking for the one-on-one member service experience that online banking simply can’t provide.”
That’s a nice vote of confidence, but it’s not an excuse to maintain the status quo. As with digital transactions, the quality and consistency of in-person transactions deserves to be analyzed and improved.
To enhance your customer experience, seek a balance between the speed, depth, and consistency of your face-to-face lending process.
Speed vs. service
Although most credit union members in the TimeTrade survey said they prefer visiting a branch for loans, we know a significant amount of auto loans take place in auto dealerships, with minimal documentation.
Also, because consumers are making digital/mobile purchases for all kinds of goods and services today, they’re likely expecting faster, less manual transactions across the board.
At the same time, members who choose to work with a credit union lender in person (or via phone or video chat) probably value professional expertise and guidance.
A mobile app won’t care whether the member makes a fully informed choice about loan terms, GAP, or credit life/disability options. Likewise, the dealership’s finance and insurance closer probably isn’t concerned about a car buyer’s overall financial goals.
This is why credit unions need to give their lending officers the training and technology to provide a complete lending experience in minimal time.
Go beyond the surface
Digital platforms help lenders check the important boxes and move through transactions at a good pace. Plus, these tools are continually being refined.
Data management and analytics will take this technology to a new level, making it easier for lending staff to quickly custom fit loan packages to the needs of each borrower.
However, lending technology can’t replace human instincts and intuition. Train your staff to build a brief conversation into the digital process with each loan applicant.
Each loan officer should learn to connect your credit union’s products and services—including those you offer through third-party providers—to a member’s life stage, retirement outlook, family situation, and so on.
Coaching, not just training, is essential for staffers to learn this skill.
Be consistent—not robotic
Base coaching on a documented model of how you want to conduct the face-to-face loan process.
Use your best performers to show new or less proficient staffers how to conduct these transactions through role playing and/or shadowing. Regularly assess their one-on-one skills and offer feedback.
To close the loop on this continual improvement process, add a meaningful reward system.
Being consistent doesn’t mean being robotic. You want just the opposite: loan officers who present your credit union’s array of options thoroughly while remaining authentic and sincere.
This brand of member experience will keep credit union lenders relevant no matter what the technology pipeline brings next.