We hear it from lenders all the time: “If the borrower would enter more information the first time, the lending process would be so much easier.”
But as lenders, have you made it easy on the applicant?
Small business owners aren’t familiar with lending industry jargon. If this is their first time going through the process, they won’t know what needs to be collected for a loan. They need clear instructions, plain English explanations, and a well-designed application flow to make the process as smooth as possible.
At SPARK, we lovingly refer to this as “AX” or applicant experience. Like user experience (UX) or customer experience (CX), it’s a critical technology design consideration — not only for lending efficiency, but for customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Why AX Matters
You understand the large amounts of information that need to be collected for a loan. But the borrower doesn’t. In many cases, it can be a very cumbersome, time-consuming, and frustrating process — for both parties.
The easier it is for the borrower to input or provide access to data and documents, the more willing they will be to do it. Designing with AX in mind means:
- Clarifying the lending process for the borrower up front
- Giving applicants freedom to input information when it’s most convenient
- Rewording confusing or unclear application questions
- Designing a clear progress indicator to make next steps obvious
- Setting expectations for what is still needed and what the application status is
Achieving the best AX possible requires a shared environment where lender and borrower can see the same information and collaborate for better understanding.
The Benefits of Applicant-First Design
In technology, design is about so much more than making things look good. It solves problems. It makes things easier. It prevents major disasters.
For borrowers, AX-centered software design provides benefits such as:
- Increased transparency around what is needed and when
- Reduced risk for application errors
- The ability to ask questions along the way
- Elimination of duplicative uploading
- Convenient, self-led application flow
- Increased trust in the lender and loan process
AX design also greatly benefits lenders with:
- The opportunity to stand out from other lenders still using legacy software
- Increased ROI from faster platform time to value
- The ability to track progress throughout the application process
- Lower risk of incomplete items that cause delays
- The ability to communicate with the borrower in the platform along the way
- Increased customer satisfaction and the opportunity to build loyalty
When you prioritize AX, you streamline the entire application process, helping you make decisions faster, close loans faster, and establish your business as a preferred lending institution.
SPARK is Designed with Applicants in Mind
At SPARK, we know and appreciate what small business owners go through during the lending process because we’ve seen it firsthand. Our team is made up of people who have been in your shoes — and we know how important the borrower experience is to you. Plus, we regularly collect user research and feedback from our existing customers to improve both the lender user and applicant experience with releases every eight weeks.
Since our founding, SPARK has been about increasing collaboration and efficiency. No more digging through email strings to find important borrower documents. No more playing phone tag to get the customer to complete their application. And (perhaps best of all), no more clunky, archaic interfaces you have to help applicants navigate.
To us, applicant experience is what moves a lending system from good to spectacular. It is the differentiator between outdated banks and the digital lending systems and convenience that today’s savvy borrowers expect.