Customer Experience

4 Ways to Improve Customer Experience During the SBA Loan Approval Process

Here are four ways commercial and SBA lenders can give clients a standout customer experience, creating satisfaction and loyal relationships in the future.

Averaging two to three months from application to funding, applying for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans stands out as a tedious and time-consuming process among other business loan types. Because an office of the U.S. government backs as much as 85% of SBA loans, additional applicant scrutiny is necessary to ensure the long-term success of the program. While lenders likely view this extended procedure as unavoidable, clients may not always see it that way and may experience significant frustration when delays accumulate and bottlenecks occur. 

In today’s fully connected digital marketplace, customers place a high value on personal experience. Whether dining out, ordering clothes online, or even choosing a lending institution for a business loan, the overwhelming majority (86%) of today’s customers will pay more for better and more personalized experiences. At the same time, nearly half (49%) will jettison a brand or service after just a single negative experience. 

How to Provide Superior Customer Experiences During the SBA Approval Process

While lenders cannot directly control SBA approval times, they can facilitate the customer-side process – the document collection phase – and then take steps to ensure their clients are engaged and up to date during underwriting. Customer experiences involve many intangibles but creating process transparency – giving applicants the tools to see exactly where they are in the process at any time – reliably drives satisfaction. 

Here are four ways commercial lenders can give clients a customer experience that stands out and creates loyal relationships in the future.

1. Responsiveness

An essential part of maintaining process transparency is being responsive to client inquiries and concerns. While 20 years ago, being responsive mostly meant answering calls during business hours, digital transformation has connected clients and businesses in an overlapping web of omnichannel communications. 

Today, clients may reach out via email, text, phone call, or various social media platforms. A responsive loan officer will monitor all these channels and try to connect with clients through the medium they prefer. Some will opt for short, to-the-point text exchanges, and others may prefer video calls and the casual conversation of a business relationship. Loan officers who read their clients’ preferences and adapt as needed can deliver greater overall customer satisfaction. 

2. Efficiency

The part of the SBA loan process in which loan officers can take the most control is the document collection phase. Because of the stringent requirements peculiar to SBA loans, many clients get overwhelmed and need assistance organizing and submitting their own documentation. Lenders who are efficient in this phase process loans faster and have happier clients. 

SBA requirements are not something clients should expect to be able to throw together in an afternoon. Nevertheless, they can meet the bar in a timely fashion with guidance. Lenders should clarify upfront exactly what is required so that clients can begin with the more time-consuming tasks. A solid kick-off meeting should cover:

  • Borrower Information Form (Form 1919)
  • Personal Background and Financial Statements (Personal and Business)
  • Statement of Personal History (Form 912)
  • Personal Financial Statement (Form 413)

Read the Case Study: Learn how a Top 10 SBA lender used FileInvite to process 12 months of loan volume in just two months »

3. Nurturing Strong Business Relationships

SBA lending connects loan officers and financial institutions to a client market more like mortgage lending than large enterprise and corporate-level business lending. Small business owners tend to be deeply personally invested in their businesses and ideas. SBA loans are often the final capstone in turning ambitions and dreams into reality. For this reason, the personal touch of a genuine relationship – in which clients feel that their lending partners share the investment in the process – is essential to ensuring client satisfaction in SBA loans. 

4. Leveraging Technology Solutions

Having the right tools to work with dramatically extends the effects of maintaining responsiveness and efficiency in the application process. For loan applications, technology-based solutions begin with replacing the piecemeal, patchwork process of collecting documents in a mix of hard copies and email attachments with a single, secure client portal. 

Client portals to a single, account-level repository save time and hassle, allowing clients to submit their documentation as they complete it. Additionally, it contributes to process transparency as clients can always see the status of their files. With options to configure automated reminders to clients as deadlines approach, client portal platforms also help loan officers stay on top of their pen. ing documents to collect.

Give Your Clients the Service They Expect

Giving clients consistently responsive and efficient service can fall short of the mark without the right technology solutions. FileInvite offers lending institutions a secure, SOC 2 Type 2 compliant client document portal platform which expedites the document collection phase of loan applications. In fact, FileInvite reliably cuts document turnaround times by 80%. 

Additionally, using bank-grade 256-bit end-to-end encryption, FileInvite reduces information security risks inherent in exchanging documents via email attachments. To keep clients happy, lenders can leverage FileInvite to close the circle of efficient, personalized customer service accompanied by enhanced information security. 

To learn more and request a demo, visit FileInvite today.

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