small business lending

Small businesses are a vital part of our communities and the economy as a whole. According to the SBA (Small Business Administration), they generate 44% of US economic activity. Yet, the average small business owner doesn’t have a wealthy relative or a shark tank to provide capital to start, grow, or sustain operations. So, when they need loans and other credit solutions, entrepreneurs frequently turn to their local banking relationships for guidance and funding. Since COVID-19 reared its ugly head, those relationships have become even more critical.

Small business lending is a win-win-win for the business in need, the lender, and the community members the company serves and employs. But the borrowing process can be confusing and stressful for applicants under normal circumstances, not to mention the rapidly implemented and poorly documented Payroll Protection Program (PPP).

PPP-related or not, it pays to make the borrowing process as frictionless as possible, especially during these pivotal and uncertain times. Providing meaningful guidance throughout the origination and servicing phases of a loan goes a long way toward cementing lasting relationships with long-term value for all.

Such Guided Lending might traditionally occur in a branch where everyone gets to sit at the same desk and work through things together to everyone’s benefit. But social distancing severely limited such in-person interactions, pushing support to the phones and online at the same time that the volume of small business borrowers and the complexity of lending programs increased. The combination creates more questions for lenders, and more hands to hold throughout the process (if you’re involved with servicing PPP loans and validating loan forgiveness criteria, you probably know what I mean).

Guided lending from a distance

When a small business owner is confused about completing forms or figuring out the required supporting documents, how do they get the guidance they need when they can’t walk into a branch for help? They’ll most likely call (or chat if available) and describe their challenges, hoping the banking representative can explain potential solutions. Effective at times, but efficient? Rarely! Think about your own experiences on either side of a support call and how helpful it would have been to have a common visual reference instead of relying on explanation alone?

That’s where being able to offer screen-sharing or CoBrowsing to walk a borrower through a process on-screen during a call can make all the difference in the world. The addition of one- or two-way video to interactions can further enhance the borrowing experience and the relationship. Digital Customer Service, including CoBrowsing and video, enables true Guided Lending that helps resolve matters more quickly, completely, and accurately online to everyone’s benefit and satisfaction—including the next borrower in the queue that won’t have to wait so long for service. 

If you’d like to dig a little deeper into these topics, please check out our resources on Guided Small Business Banking or our Video Banking white paper.