How to Build a Robust Customer Experience Around Your Digital Lending Products

Digital lending is more accessible than ever before thanks to warp-speed digital transformation. Here’s how companies can leverage the latest advances.

It’s the summer of 2021 and as travel restrictions relax, consumers are taking to the skies. 

‘Revenge travel’ is an emerging trend as people go on vacations and family trips put off by the pandemic. And with so many travelers eager to see the world after sheltering in place for a year, the demand for vacation, and the funds to cover them, is sure to rise.

Imagine if companies like Expedia offered loans in-app and online. Travelers could book their flight, hotel, rental car, and activities—and get funds to cover them all—with just a few clicks. Customers would get everything they need for their trip in one place, and Expedia would have a robust new revenue stream.

Sound unlikely? Not necessarily. Digital lending rapidly advanced in recent years, and the space has never been more competitive. From installment programs to wage advancement, and for travel, car, and real estate loans, fintech makes it possible for almost any company to offer digital financing as part of the customer journey.

The Complete Loan Journey Has a New Starting Line

Today’s consumers can (and do) shop for the best rates online before committing to a loan. This makes it harder for lenders to differentiate in other areas. With digital lending offers built-in to purchase experiences, however, it’s easier for lenders to target their audience based on affinity, as well as cross-sell and upsell to generate and retain borrowers.

Done right, digital lending platforms integrate seamlessly into existing customer experience journeys. This makes it possible to capture potential borrowers right where they’re shopping, such as on apps and sites similar to Expedia’s.

It also makes it possible to expand a company’s offerings to increase loyalty and revenue. However, this requires a little homework. Before diving into digital lending, companies must:

  1. Establish product-market fit. Taking a holistic approach, consider your customers, audience, ecosystem, and the digital lending product you want to introduce. Where is the most demand? What, if any, are the limitations of what you can deliver? Survey customers to paint a detailed picture.
  1. Discover opportunities based on affinity. How can you leverage what you know about your audience to develop new products or upsell existing ones? Do you want to be a part of payments? Help sell the product? These answers will be unique to your industry, audience, and existing products. 
  1. Find your blindspots. Will you provide a digital wallet and/or dashboard? How will communications get handled? Security? KYC? Account linking? Content management? There are many factors to consider, and each may need its own dedicated solution.

Finally, you’ll also want to consider whether your product can be extended to in-person purchases and whether partners such as restaurants and retailers will want to advertise special offers on your app. Capabilities like this expand your audience and further embed lending into the customer journey.

The Right Tech Stack Ensures Functionality and Compliance

Building a complete digital lending product requires the right tech stack. Once you’ve built out the vision for your product, you’re ready to pinpoint which partners and tools are the best fit for your needs. A balance of fintech partners and in-house digital agility keeps solutions ready for whatever the future brings. 

To begin, consider the most important parts of your customer journey from beginning to end. In the case of a travel company, for example, this includes the discovery/research process, booking, traveling, and returning home. Don’t forget that during this journey, customers often benefit from behavioral nudges as well as reinforcement when they perform desired behaviors.

CapitalOne has leveraged a deep understanding of their customer journey with their Auto Navigator. When a customer begins shopping for a car loan in-app or online, they can click through to “Find Cars” at any point in their discovery process or as soon as they learn how much funding they pre-qualify for. Customers then shop for cars immediately or locate car dealerships in their area in-app.

In addition to the customer experience, you obviously can’t ignore requirements from your governing agencies. You’ll need to build solutions for or partner with fintechs who can:

  • verify identities, employment, and income
  • handle onboarding and KYC
  • maintain SOC2 compliance

And, of course, remember to plan for any necessary underwriting and risk analysis.

Partner With Kunai to Build and Own Your Digital Lending Products

Kunai creates seamless customer experiences that unite digital products with fintech. We partner and build with the leading fintech infrastructure companies, taking digital concepts from napkin sketch to deployment at scale.

Thanks to our experience, we know and understand the customer journey and can see around corners, predicting the next need before it arises. We also have accelerators, reducing your time to market and time to value while increasing your product’s success. Get in touch if you’d like to learn more.



Sandeep: Tell me a bit about the early part of your career.

Tom: I spent a decade helping to build start-ups focused on application and database software. This was where I learned how to sell and do business development. I was fortunate to be part of one company going public and another being sold to IBM.

Sandeep: What is something you learned during this time that helped you with consulting?

Tom: I began to appreciate how different customers achieved varying levels of success with the same foundational technology. This made me understand just how critical getting your team and process right can be.

Sandeep: This is something I only came to appreciate years into consulting, especially after the sale of my first consultancy to Capital One.I saw teams in different parts of the company trying to solve challenges like real-time messaging. Same corporate culture, same technology, same internal support mechanisms. Night and day outcomes.

Tom: We saw a lot of the same thing after selling our practice to EMC (sold to Dell in 2015). This is probably the thing I'm most proud of when it comes to the teams I've helped to build: the ability to perform well in a variety of contexts, sometimes in ways that inspires the client team to up their game as well.

Sandeep: Yes. It's particularly cool to see your team succeed in individual ways after an skills definitely translate into the corporate environment.

Tom: Totally. We have people who've stayed on at Dell and risen up the ranks, while others took the opportunity to become successful executives at other Fortune 100 companies....or to start their own agencies and startups.

Sandeep: We've both been around a while. My first consulting project was a Y2K thing for Cisco back in 1998. You've been around a little longer than that :). How do you think consulting has changed most during the past five years?

Tom: I think because there is so much infrastructure available now, consulting has become more delivery and outcome-oriented. A better blend of strategic and tactical. Public Cloud has also enabled velocity to increase at a pace unfathomable 5 years ago.

Sandeep: What has stayed the same?

Tom: It's still mostly about people. People who thrive on change and are focused on their personal and professional development. I love that this has not and will not's what I love about consulting.

Sandeep: I know you're adjusting your work style to COVID. You're still a dude who clearly prefers to drive an hour for a socially-distanced hike or outdoor meeting over Zoom any day of the week :) But personal styles aside, what is specifically compelling about a remote agency during the era of COVID?

Tom: Kunai has been remote for years, which gives them an inherent advantage. There is something about the communication and management styles that just works in a way that other organizations are still figuring out.

Sandeep: Yeah, I think what a lot of people fail to realize is that remote work isn't just office work over Zoom. it's an entirely new paradigm. There needs to be an understanding for asynchronous efficiency...and this just takes time and effort to develop. How do you approach remote work and family? What are you learning about separating work and personal time?

Tom: No matter what the form of interaction, Focus. Be present. Quality over quantity. The best weeks are the weeks where I proactively schedule work and personal time. Neil (Kunai's Head of Delivery) shared a great quote with me "With discipline comes freedom." When I am proactively addressing the majority of my professional and personal commitments, I find I earn a little flexibility. A little freedom.

Sandeep: Tell us about a business hero of yours that I may not have heard of before.

Tom: Paul O'Neill is someone you may not know. His work in both the public and the private sector created a profound impact

Sandeep: We are both over forty years old :). How have you learned how to work smarter during the past decade or so? What do you wish you knew about consulting when you were 25 that you know now?

Tom: Consultants want to make lasting change. Lasting change is often not the act of a single person. Today I work much harder bringing others along on the journey.

Sandeep: Last question. What are you doing here? :) Why join a small consulting company this late in your career when you could have a cushy job somewhere else?

Tom: I love a good challenge personally and professionally. When I turned 40, I decided I would run a 10K every Thanksgiving weekend and try to have my finishing time be less than my age. With the exception of one year where I did not run due to a health issue, I have met the goal. I also recently completed the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race. So, I guess I'm here because I'm a glutton for punishment :) Jokes aside, our customers have a job to do and I intend to put Kunai in a position to execute flawlessly on their behalf. I love committing jointly to audacious goals for our customers and our business.

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