More and more, consumers are demanding to do business on their terms and how they feel comfortable doing so. Technology has facilitated these demands and that same technology has aided businesses in meeting those demands.
It’s a complex and competitive market that merchants need to navigate to build a loyal customer base. It requires allowing their customers to access their products from multiple channels and building that into an omnichannel strategy. Below we look at what businesses can do to implement their multichannel lending strategy, what is multichannel vs. omnichannel in terms of lending, and what merchants and lenders need to consider focusing on the future.
What is a business to do?
Today a customer of numerous industries, whether its retail, banking, hospitality, even healthcare, looks to interact with businesses and merchants via multiple channels. Consumers looking for a loan may view many different loan types, offering different terms, requiring different covenants, with different eligibility criteria from various financial institutions all on their smartphones. Once clear in their strategy, they can shortlist an institution and loan and either apply online or go into the physical branch. Funds can be linked to an online account or a digital wallet for transfers and future payment.
The need for the different investments involved to implement multichannel strategy, technological infrastructure, both human and financial capital, and staying committed over the long-term, can be daunting. Below are some easy and obvious areas to focus on as you build out multichannel lending.
Set up a mobile presence
The saying was that if you don’t have a website, your customers just don’t see you. That advice is now about two decades outdated. Now, if you don’t have an app, or a mobile-friendly website at the very minimum, your customers don’t even know you exist. Besides there is so much data lenders can collect with mobile apps they can use to auto-fill loan documentation details, thereby adding tremendous convenience into the consumer journey.
Lenders have a great opportunity to leverage the level of security built into smartphones today. However, it starts with the lender have a mobile presence.
Support Support Support!!!
So many of today’s technology solutions rely solely on technology, without any human touch or intervention. It may make for an efficient operation, but it may not help with customer satisfaction.
Imagine a customer experience where a human answers the phones after the first ring equipped to answer questions with expertise and compassion. Your business may be able to close a sale on that call or qualify a strong lead. A common complaint among many industries is often poor customer service. There is a lot that needs to be done in setting up a successful support operation; product expertise, compassionate staff, and continuous upskilling of staff to be masterful at spotting pain points and capitalizing on those opportunities to showcase value propositions. Although it requires effort and time, it is sure to garner great impact over time.
You still need brick and mortar
Building on the earlier point of human interactions in supporting customers, physical branch offices which customers can visit, and experience are a great way to promote your brand and products. Lenders should be cognizant of the different age groups and demographics looking for lending products.
The crux of the multichannel strategy is that there isn’t only one solution that fits all the demographics. While digital natives are comfortable with the entire loan application being online, some are more comfortable and value in-person interaction and physical paperwork to sign.
The omnichannel evolution
Omnichannel should not be viewed from the lens of a contrast to a multichannel strategy but rather an evolution of it. Where multichannel looks to reach consumers however they are most comfortable, online, phone, email, or in person, omnichannel is the combination of all these channels under one roof. What results is a single hub communicating with one another, transferring insight and knowledge, and guiding customers through the consumer lifecycle; application, approval, onboarding, disbursement of funds, payments, reporting, cross-marketing, etc.
Sometimes a customer can start an online application but may need additional consultation to choose the best lending products suitable for them or may require in-person guidance to navigate the application and documentation process. Lenders should be able to seamlessly access the client’s online application at their branch to carry that forward to completion without disruption. Having the ability to have all these multichannel access points seamlessly communicate with each other is Omnichannel.
Focusing on the future
Multichannel allows businesses to approach their consumer base from multiple channels that are convenient for them to access their products. But multichannel is a siloed strategy that needs to evolve into an omnichannel solution where the customer journey is a streamlined process without giving the impression that it is a separate interaction. This presents a chance for businesses and lenders to cultivate a relationship with their customers as they focus on their future needs.
Lenders can quickly develop the ability to link together all the data into a single repository to build a profile of the customer, to expeditiously cater to their needs, and as time passes and as the relationship grows, serve as a recommendation engine for numerous other lending products and services to be appropriately marketed. Someone who takes out a student loan today may need a credit card or car loan in about four years. They may need a mortgage in ten years.
Technology has raised consumer expectations of how quickly their demands are met at the setting of their choice. Luckily, that same technology is available to businesses to take advantage of to delineate their consumers into different microcosms and plan a multichannel course of action to cater to their needs. With time and effort, lenders can easily evolve that into a unique omnichannel experience, building a pipeline of loyal customers.