Lending Perspectives: The Loan Officer Experience vs. The Member Experience

person reading financial reports and using smartphone to view loan information
Bill Vogeney Photo
Chief Revenue Officer
Ent Credit Union

4 minutes

Three things to consider on your quest for a perfect user interface.

Increasingly, technology decisions for credit unions are becoming more difficult. The lending area is not an exception. For two decades, the search has continued for the perfect loan origination system.  Whether a credit union is looking for a better decision engine, improved loan processing or the ability to automate processes, it seems like there is always some reason to upgrade your LOS.

In addition to the growth of fintech, another reason to evaluate your current LOS is the user interface. There is no denying that fintech providers are leveraging the mobile app explosion to deliver intuitive UIs that live up to the tech demands of not only millennials, but also any consumer who has become reliant on technology.

Here is the problem: Today’s LOS providers are focused not on the consumer, but on lenders, the direct customers of the system. While today’s LOS UIs are better than those of the previous generation (which are perhaps only a few years old), do they really have what it takes to allow credit unions to compete with fintechs tomorrow? I recently sat down with my colleague, Ent’s VP/Electronic Banking Tanan Miles, to discuss what makes a perfect UI. Here are some of the words of wisdom he offered:

  1. Adopt the “my phone is an extension of me” approach.

    Tanan likens the ability of the new iPhone X to recognize the user through Face ID to an essential ingredient needed in the perfect loan application UI. Now, with the phone becoming a virtual appendage, a seamless identification process is a consumer expectation. Sadly, some origination systems still do not have single sign-on through the lender’s home or mobile banking platform. Any requirement that your existing member must create another specific user name and password to apply for a loan is unacceptable in today’s environment.
  2. Watch for user friction.

    User friction can be caused by minor details—beyond authentication—that take away from the overall user experience. Picture the best mobile app you have experienced. Could you use it immediately with no assistance? If your lending UI makes members stop and think, it may not necessarily cause them to stop applying for that loan, but they may not recommend the experience or come back in the future.

    The experiences our members have with the likes of Amazon trickle down and impact their expectations of other providers, including credit unions, even if the delivery of the product (a loan) isn’t quite as simple as delivering a tangible product like a book (or e-book) or package of razors.

    Tanan gave me a wonderful example of delighting the consumer as it relates to lending. Most loan officers have a standard set of skills that help them make loans. Yet the all-star is not necessarily your most intelligent nor experienced loan officer. The all-star is often the one who knows the member so well he can do little things that connect with them in personal ways that delight and create a referral-generating fan base. 
  3. Consider these other design elements as essential.

    Pre-populating the application with information already known about the member is important, along with simplifying the data entry. If I start typing in my address as “1234 Ma,” the UI should provide an option to accept 1234 Main Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80907. If your UI doesn’t have that feature, at least look for the ability to simply input the ZIP code in lieu of the city, state and ZIP.

    Customized entry fields help simplify the application process. If the data field is for the phone number, the numbers-only keypad should pop up. For fields like date of birth, scrolling drop-down menus make the data entry much easier for mobile users—the applicant scrolls down for the appropriate month, day and year rather than using a touch screen and typing the data.

    Progress bars help people like me. I joke that I am a product of the TV age, as I grew up in the late 60s and 70s. TV stations run a commercial every seven minutes, so that is the length of my attention span. Today’s digitally dependent consumers are even more demanding; if you don’t tell members how far along they are in the loan process, they could give up as they approach the finish line.

    Tanan loves analogies and this is a good one: Do not cram too much furniture into the apartment! Pare down your application to collect the information you need and nothing else. Of course, you should not make a habit of going back to the applicant to get more information, either.

    Finally, find a happy medium with page length. “Conversational” pages—with one question per screen—will eventually get the job done, but they’re tedious. So are pages that scroll on and on.

Go find it!

The perfect LOS has not been invented, but there may just be a perfect UI out there, according to Tanan. Do not be afraid to separate your UI and LOS decisions; a poor UI could have negative implications as to how your members perceive the credit union as a whole.

CUES member Bill Vogeney is chief revenue officer of $5 billion Ent in Colorado Springs. 

CUES Learning Portal