Streamlining the Loan Application Submission Process

Fundera’s mission is to help small business owners make confident financial decisions. After three years, our core offering of a single-loan application become overly robust. This case study is how the team approached simplifying a complicated product to put our customers back in the forefront of our business.

Fundera’s mission is to help small business owners make confident financial decisions. After three years, our core offering of a single-loan application become overly robust. This case study is how the team approached simplifying a complicated product to put our customers back in the forefront of our business.

Fundera’s mission is to help small business owners make confident financial decisions. After three years, our core offering of a single-loan application become overly robust. This case study is how the team approached simplifying a complicated product to put our customers back in the forefront of our business.

Fundera’s mission is to help small business owners make confident financial decisions. After three years, our core offering of a single-loan application become overly robust. This case study is how the team approached simplifying a complicated product to put our customers back in the forefront of our business.

fundera-o2o-intro

ROLE

User Researcher
Product Designer
Project Manager

TEAM

TEAM

Elle Carter - Director of Business Operations
Greg Hockenbrocht - Business Development Manager
Ryan Conti - Director of Customer Success
Averyan Turetsky, Matthew Plummer - Sr. Software Engineers
Vikas Sood - VP Product
Jared Hecht - CEO

Elle Carter - Director of Business Operations
Greg Hockenbrocht - Business Development Manager
Ryan Conti - Director of Customer Success
Averyan Turetsky, Matthew Plummer - Sr. Software Engineers
Vikas Sood - VP Product
Jared Hecht - CEO

Elle Carter - Dir of BizOps
Greg Hockenbrocht - BizDev Manager
Ryan Conti - Dir of Customer Success
Averyan Turetsky, Matthew Plummer - Sr. Software Engineers
Vikas Sood - VP Product
Jared Hecht - CEO

STATUS

The desktop experience is live to 100% of our customers as of February 2018.

The desktop experience is live to 100% of our customers as of February 2018.

GOAL

GOAL

Streamline the Loan Application Submission Process

After the latest revamp of the loan application in summer 2016, the company had shifted focus to further down the conversion funnel. Along the way, we realized we were losing qualified customers due to several factors: a hard-to-use product experience, demanding application requirements, and trust. Additionally, we saw an opportunity in driving faster loan submissions meant a positive downstream effect. That is, if we submitted folks within three days, the likelihood to receive and accept an offer was much higher.

And thus the goal became figuring out a hypothesis behind: How might we enable our customers to confidently complete their application quickly to get better, faster offers?

CHALLENGES & RISKS

The Big Picture

To ensure we tackled the right goals to help our customers, we needed to set up the right metrics.

  • First, we had an overarching focus on increasing the close rate for all new opportunities. That is, we look for not just submission rate but a customer accepting a loan and having funds deposited into their bank accounts. We do this by:
    • Increasing the % of people who submit their first application within three days.

Most importantly, we ensure that revenue per opportunity does not decrease below the average from Jan-July 2017.

DISCOVERY & ALIGNMENT

Speaking the Same Language

Speaking the Same Language

Another challenge that we faced was that this was the first full cross-functional initiative created under a new product process for the loan application. There were years of institutional knowledge that only some folks understood. We needed to get everyone aligned before determining the problems to solve. That is, how do we prepare to fundamentally change the core product without completely breaking the core business and its existing structure.

To help the team form a stronger hypothesis to tests, we needed research and alignment. To start, this led to:

Another challenge that we faced was that this was the first full cross-functional initiative created under a new product process for the loan application. There were years of institutional knowledge that only some folks understood. We needed to get everyone aligned before determining the problems to solve. That is, how do we prepare to fundamentally change the core product without completely breaking the core business and its existing structure.

To help the team form a stronger hypothesis to tests, we needed research and alignment. To start, this led to:

30+
Sales Shadow Sessions

30+
Sales Shadow Sessions

30+
Sales Shadow Sessions

I shadowed our entire sales team to understand their processes and issues better. As a result, it revealed a split between the human versus product experience.

I shadowed our entire sales team to understand their processes and issues better. As a result, it revealed a split between the human versus product experience.

5 Stages
of Loan Experience

The insights helped us break down the loan app experience in distinct stages (Assignment, Selection, Packaging, Receive, and Accept Offer). We decided to focus on selection & packaging to start.

20+ Questions
Removed from the App

20+ Questions
Removed from the App

All of our research led to a 60+ question application shortened to roughly 40. I worked with Sales & BD to narrow this list to present back to lenders to ensure we were asking the right questions.

All of our research led to a 60+ question application shortened to roughly 40. I worked with Sales & BD to narrow this list to present back to lenders to ensure we were asking the right questions.

Once we were able to get a clearer idea of what information the application required, we were able to build various storylines and hypothesis to begin testing.

Once we were able to get a clearer idea of what information the application required, we were able to build various storylines and hypothesis to begin testing. We were able to do so through research which included a mix of qualitative and quantitative feedback. The team has a unique opportunity to tap into our sales team, metrics, and user feedback to draw insights.

HYPOTHESIS TO INSIGHT

Research, Design, Build, Test, and Repeat

Iterate & Iterate

Iterate & Iterate

Throughout the next few months, in total, the team has come up with eight full-fledged concepts all built from the research we completed. We tested and iterated with the focus of building out a strong foundation to then optimize.

In each iteration, we built our hypothesis from the research of various means. All of which included listening to phone calls and drawing qualitative insights from our customers and loan specialists. We also looked at FullStory, Mixpanel, and Salesforce to review and monitor metrics. And of course, we tested concepts and conducted usability tests with representative samples on usertesting.com.

Throughout the next few months, in total, the team has come up with eight full-fledged concepts all built from the research we completed. We tested and iterated with the focus of building out a strong foundation to then optimize.

In each iteration, we built our hypothesis from the research of various means. All of which included listening to phone calls and drawing qualitative insights from our customers and loan specialists. We also looked at FullStory, Mixpanel, and Salesforce to review and monitor metrics. And of course, we tested concepts and conducted usability tests with representative samples on usertesting.com.

Throughout the next few months, in total, the team has come up with eight full-fledged concepts all built from the research we completed. We tested and iterated with the focus of building out a strong foundation to then optimize.

In each iteration, we built our hypothesis from the research of various means. All of which included listening to phone calls and drawing qualitative insights from our customers and loan specialists. We also looked at FullStory, Mixpanel, and Salesforce to review and monitor metrics. And of course, we tested concepts and conducted usability tests with representative samples on usertesting.com.

Throughout the next few months, in total, the team has come up with eight full-fledged concepts all built from the research we completed. We tested and iterated with the focus of building out a strong foundation to then optimize.

In each iteration, we built our hypothesis from the research of various means. All of which included listening to phone calls and drawing qualitative insights from our customers and loan specialists. We also looked at FullStory, Mixpanel, and Salesforce to review and monitor metrics. And of course, we tested concepts and conducted usability tests with representative samples on usertesting.com.

Throughout the next few months, in total, the team has come up with eight full-fledged concepts all built from the research we completed. We tested and iterated with the focus of building out a strong foundation to then optimize.

In each iteration, we built our hypothesis from the research of various means. All of which included listening to phone calls and drawing qualitative insights from our customers and loan specialists. We also looked at FullStory, Mixpanel, and Salesforce to review and monitor metrics. And of course, we tested concepts and conducted usability tests with representative samples on usertesting.com.

Various methods to gather insights continiously.

The research led to many different iterations. Some of which surprised us like folks willing to allow us to look at their credit reports immediately after sign-up and to connect their bank accounts.

loanappsubmit-wireframes

TODAY'S SOLUTION

The Foundation for a New Loan Application

We’ve been able to establish the foundation to continue building and iterating.

Our core hypothesis is that by setting an agenda and providing insight as to why and how more accurate information improves the quality of one’s application, we’ll be able to increase app submission rates significantly.

At a high level, we’ve focused on improving several factors:

  1. First by providing transparency and encouragement into the loan application process. We tackled with a module that provides the context of the overarching experience, a loan specialist module that explains where and why we need information that we're asking.
  2. Reducing the burden on the customer by only asking for information we need. That is, we've vetted down the application requirements and are finding ways to shorten the application through asking for verified data (versus only self-reported).
  3. And, by challenging our assumptions and instincts to gain better insights. We were afraid to ask questions in a certain way because we thought it would be too sensitive or scary. We tried, and we learned along the way.
status_loanSpecialist
Desktop v3 Experience

The latest experience for desktop.

The latest experience for desktop.

The latest experience for desktop.

The latest experience for desktop.

The latest experience for desktop.

Given that we had a very small population of mobile sign-ups, we decided to build for a responsive mobile web experience with some improvements.

While a mobile app isn't the core focus at the moment, folks may be coming from a mobile phone. We wanted a seamless, responsive design.

While a mobile app isn't the core focus at the moment, folks may be coming from a mobile phone. We wanted a seamless, responsive design.

While a mobile app isn't the core focus at the moment, folks may be coming from a mobile phone. We wanted a seamless, responsive design.

While a mobile app isn't the core focus at the moment, folks may be coming from a mobile phone. We wanted a seamless, responsive design.

STATUS & RESULTS

Incremental Improvements

Incremental Improvements

Overall, we've seen an increase in customers engaging and completing previously difficult parts of the application including an increase in bank accounts synced and credit and service authorizations signed before speaking to a loan specialist.

As of February 2018, we've turned on the desktop experience for 100% of our customers. We've increased the 3-day application submit rate by 9% and have seen a 54% increase in revenue per opportunity.

In Q1 2018, the team is excited to continue improving the experience for our new customers as we’re thinking holistically about the full loan ecosystem.

REFLECTIONS

Challenges are Rewarding, Stick With It

During the middle of this project, I came across this article which helped me put things into perspective. My team was falling apart. We hit a ton of roadblocks; our momentum stalled, we lost sight of the end goal a few times. I won’t lie, it was difficult. I found moments where I completely lost confidence in my skills as a product designer. I was wrapped up in my fears of failure.

In the middle of all this, I also got promoted. In my head, I asked, “Why me?” And that was it; it was all in my head. The problems we were trying to solve are incredibly tricky, and I couldn’t cut myself any slack. I thought I had to be 100% perfect with led to a lot of internal frustration.

In retrospect, both my managers weren’t working with me on design-specific improvements but on improving my soft skills and on figuring out how to drive consensus. That is, not by owning just “design” but the full user and product experience. I also sought a lot of advice during this time (shout out to my mentors, friends, and coffee chat strangers) on how to get through everything. Ultimately, it wasn’t about being 100% perfect. It’s about getting to 80%, testing, learning, and iterating; similar to how I approach design problems. I just needed to learn how to apply that to my growth.

This projects showed me that as I continue to grow, I can be super excited to learn, fail, and be okay with both.

Challenges are Rewarding, Stick With It

During the middle of this project, I came across this article which helped me put things into perspective. My team was falling apart. We hit a ton of roadblocks; our momentum stalled, we lost sight of the end goal a few times. I won’t lie, it was difficult. I found moments where I completely lost confidence in my skills as a product designer. I was wrapped up in my fears of failure.

In the middle of all this, I also got promoted. In my head, I asked, “Why me?” And that was it; it was all in my head. The problems we were trying to solve are incredibly tricky, and I couldn’t cut myself any slack. I thought I had to be 100% perfect with led to a lot of internal frustration.

In retrospect, both my managers weren’t working with me on design-specific improvements but on improving my soft skills and on figuring out how to drive consensus. That is, not by owning just “design” but the full user and product experience. I also sought a lot of advice during this time (shout out to my mentors, friends, and coffee chat strangers) on how to get through everything. Ultimately, it wasn’t about being 100% perfect. It’s about getting to 80%, testing, learning, and iterating; similar to how I approach design problems. I just needed to learn how to apply that to my growth.

This projects showed me that as I continue to grow, I can be super excited to learn, fail, and be okay with both.

Challenges are Rewarding, Stick With It

During the middle of this project, I came across this article which helped me put things into perspective. My team was falling apart. We hit a ton of roadblocks; our momentum stalled, we lost sight of the end goal a few times. I won’t lie, it was difficult. I found moments where I completely lost confidence in my skills as a product designer. I was wrapped up in my fears of failure.

In the middle of all this, I also got promoted. In my head, I asked, “Why me?” And that was it; it was all in my head. The problems we were trying to solve are incredibly tricky, and I couldn’t cut myself any slack. I thought I had to be 100% perfect with led to a lot of internal frustration.

In retrospect, both my managers weren’t working with me on design-specific improvements but on improving my soft skills and on figuring out how to drive consensus. That is, not by owning just “design” but the full user and product experience. I also sought a lot of advice during this time (shout out to my mentors, friends, and coffee chat strangers) on how to get through everything. Ultimately, it wasn’t about being 100% perfect. It’s about getting to 80%, testing, learning, and iterating; similar to how I approach design problems. I just needed to learn how to apply that to my growth.

This projects showed me that as I continue to grow, I can be super excited to learn, fail, and be okay with both.

Challenges are Rewarding, Stick With It

During the middle of this project, I came across this article which helped me put things into perspective. My team was falling apart. We hit a ton of roadblocks; our momentum stalled, we lost sight of the end goal a few times. I won’t lie, it was difficult. I found moments where I completely lost confidence in my skills as a product designer. I was wrapped up in my fears of failure.

In the middle of all this, I also got promoted. In my head, I asked, “Why me?” And that was it; it was all in my head. The problems we were trying to solve are incredibly tricky, and I couldn’t cut myself any slack. I thought I had to be 100% perfect with led to a lot of internal frustration.

In retrospect, both my managers weren’t working with me on design-specific improvements but on improving my soft skills and on figuring out how to drive consensus. That is, not by owning just “design” but the full user and product experience. I also sought a lot of advice during this time (shout out to my mentors, friends, and coffee chat strangers) on how to get through everything. Ultimately, it wasn’t about being 100% perfect. It’s about getting to 80%, testing, learning, and iterating; similar to how I approach design problems. I just needed to learn how to apply that to my growth.

This projects showed me that as I continue to grow, I can be super excited to learn, fail, and be okay with both.