SBA lending is an important avenue for small businesses to get the funding they need to grow. But for many, going through the application process is aggravating. If you want your lending business to continue growing and foster a great reputation, you need to find ways to make the SBA lending process better for borrowers.
Why Borrower Satisfaction Is So Important
Let’s start by taking a look at why borrower satisfaction is so important. It’s not just about lending the money; it’s also about making your customers happy.
- Initial appeal. If you plan your lending and manage your business in a way that favors borrowers and makes them more satisfied with the experience, they’re going to have much more initial appeal. That means you’ll attract far more applicants and eventually have far more borrowers.
- Confidence and cooperation. When borrowers feel good about their financial arrangements and they have a positive relationship with your brand, they’re going to demonstrate more confidence and more cooperation throughout the borrowing process. That could mean responding more promptly, providing more thorough documentation, and lending assistance when needed. Overall, it leads to far more streamlined borrowing.
- Reviews and testimonials. Happy customers are much more likely to leave positive reviews and, potentially, glowing testimonials. With a growing body of satisfied borrowers, your brand will earn a better and better reputation, eventually securing more deals with more customers.
- Recommendations/referrals. Don’t forget that your most loyal and satisfied customers could take things a step further, recommending your financial institution to their friends and family members. Word of mouth marketing is still an incredibly powerful tool for business growth.
How to Make SBA Lending Better for Borrowers
So what steps can you take to improve borrowers satisfaction, and make SBA lending more palatable overall?
- Use better loan origination software. First, consider upgrading your loan origination software. Loan origination software helps you with a variety of tasks related to lending, from creating the borrower application on your website to managing applications on the back end. Better software means higher efficiency, a better user experience, time savings, and greater convenience for your customers. It’s well worth the investment.
- Make applications simpler and easier to understand. Loan applications can make or break the process for interested borrowers. If they have to go through a long and convoluted process to submit basic information to you, they may become disillusioned about the entire experience. As much as possible, make your applications simpler and easier to understand, while allowing them to be filled out in a shorter amount of time.
- Respond promptly. Whenever customers or prospects reach out to you, make it a point to respond as quickly as possible. Providing a response in 24 hours, or preferably within an hour, can make customers feel like they’re valued and can expedite all your conversations and processes. This is especially important when talking to new prospects or onboarding customers for the first time; without the right first impression, your communication could be dead in the water.
- Be clear and avoid jargon. Jargon can kill your communication – and in some cases, your chances of winning a new customer. When explaining the terms and conditions of different loans, and going through customer questions, try to remain as clear as possible and avoid any technical jargon. Remember, most of your customers are small business owners who may not be familiar with the intricacies of small business lending. While you’re at it, try to field as many questions as possible and provide thorough, complete, and honest answers.
- Sympathize (when appropriate). At various points throughout the process, you may be forced to dispense bad news, like informing an applicant that they’re not going to qualify for the loan they want. When this is the case, sympathize with the client. Focus on building relationships more than just winning business, and always help people understand their alternative options.
- Collect feedback. Start collecting borrower feedback, if you’re not already doing so. During and after your arrangements, simple surveys can help you figure out what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. Your customers may even suggest improvements you can make to your lending policies and practices.
- Continually improve. The best SBA lenders are ones who continually evolve. They’re constantly working to learn new things, upgrade their systems and processes, and ultimately make customers even happier.
Working with the SBA and business owners simultaneously means you can lower your financial risks while simultaneously empowering your local business community. It stands to be an excellent, win-win arrangement for everyone involved. But you’re going to get far more value out of this arrangement, and make your borrowers happier, if you dedicate ample attention to the factors most likely to improve the overall experience.