OppLoans & SpringFour – Partnership Done Right

OppLoans & SpringFour – Partnership Done Right

At SpringFour, partnerships are extremely important to us. When we find an organization that is mission-aligned, looking for solutions to improve the financial lives of their customers, and interested in thinking innovatively and testing strategies, we know we have found a great partner. That is exactly what happened with OppLoans.

We began working with OppLoans in November of 2018 and embarked on a full rollout of both applications in May of this year. Six months into the full rollout, we sat down with Natasha Anand (pictured above), Director of Customer Operations at OppLoans, to get her perspective on the partnership.

Tell us about your role at OppLoans.

I am the Senior Director of Customer Operations at OppLoans and I oversee both the servicing and collections side of the business. Our team owns the customer experience and journey once customers are approved and funded for a loan. I focus on the overall strategy for best servicing both current and delinquent customers in our portfolio.

What makes OppLoans different than other lenders?

Unlike more traditional lenders, our customer service and collections teams are not separated – our employees, known as Customer Advocates, perform both the customer service and collections job functions. This is done purposefully, as our philosophy marries customer service with collections. Customer satisfaction is just as important as the ability to collect on outstanding balances. Therefore, our approach to navigate conflicts emphasizes empathy for customers’ concerns, utmost transparency, and providing accurate, easy-to-understand information so that customers can make informed, financially-responsible decisions.

Share with us one or two things that people might not realize about OppLoans.

Our commitment to our customers goes beyond offering them simple, responsible products, it means delivering them a five-star customer experience. Our Loan and Customer Advocate teams don’t just help customers apply for loans and establish a positive payment history, they treat them with the empathy and dignity that they deserve.

And that’s not just lip-service: A portion of our QA scorecards actually grade Customer Advocates on their soft skills and empathy! This is why SpringFour has proved such an effective tool for our Customer Advocates: It allows them to deliver the kind of five-star customer experience that few expect when they are being contacted about a delinquent payment. It’s proof that we genuinely want to help!

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“SpringFour helps our customers by providing them with ways

to supplement their income and get back on track after facing a financial shock.”

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What made you decide to partner with SpringFour?

What SpringFour offers to customers falls in line with our mission and values at OppLoans. As a financial platform serving consumers in nonprime markets, we are striving to make a positive social impact that sets up apart from other lenders. We want to help our customers build a better financial path, and SpringFour is a great complement to our overall strategy.

What has made the partnership successful?

We decided to first pilot the SpringFour S4Pro product with a select group of Customer Advocates. Over the course of the initial pilot, we were able to iterate on how we use the product and best practices for referring customers to useful resources – all done in step with the SpringFour team. They worked side by side with us as we re-wrote scripts for employees providing referrals, tested introducing SpringFour at different points along the customer journey, and supported us with data analysis and reporting. Without this initial trial-and-error period, we would not have been as successful during the broader launch to all fifty Customer Advocates and implementation of the S4Direct product on our website.

What excites you the most about the partnership between SpringFour and OppLoans? Going forward?

We’re still in the relatively early stages of the partnership, but I look forward to measuring and tracking the impact we are having on our customers by offering them SpringFour resources. (Part 2 of the blog post – more coming soon!)

 How does SpringFour address the needs of your customers?

SpringFour helps our customers by providing them with ways to supplement their income and get back on track after facing a financial shock. Many of our customers live paycheck to paycheck, so a sudden unforeseen financial expense can impact their ability to manage their money in the short term. They might find themselves unable to pay all their bills on time or be forced to carry over high-cost credit card debt. We want to help our customers avoid situations like these by working with them on their debt obligation with us and helping them manage their other expenses – all through connecting them with financial wellness resources in their area.

Where in the customer journey are you currently offering SpringFour?

–    We offer it over the phone when customers mention financial hardship or additional unforeseen expenses.

–    We offer SpringFour in some email communications to customers.

–    We also have SpringFour listed in the “Resources” section on our website.

What makes SpringFour different than other technology vendors?

We love how collaborative the SpringFour team has been during our implementation and rollout. They always want to hear about how things are going and are actively involved with any troubleshooting or problem solving. It is clear they take client feedback seriously, and they have talked about iterating on their product solutions to better meet our needs. It is always refreshing to have a true partner who wants to work with you rather than for you.

 Tell us what your Customer Advocates are saying about SpringFour

Our Customer Advocates love it! First, it’s very easy to use. All they need is the customer’s zip code and email address in order to get them the desired resources quickly and efficiently. According to one Customer Advocate, Ricky Alvarado, customers love SpringFour “because it’s fast, free and confidential. They don’t feel embarrassed because they can look at it directly on our website or receive [resources] directly to their email box.”

Customer Advocates also like that there are many resources to choose from, so that they can tailor their email to what the customer actually needs at that moment. And it makes their jobs easier. Ricky added that SpringFour helps him to “switch the conversation – here’s what we can do for you because we care for you. It’s a tool to make [the job] less stressful.”

And it’s this response from customers which resonates deepest with the OppLoans Customer Advocate team. When he gets a customer on the line who is facing financial hardship, Ricky says he can “hear their voice changing over the phone” when he starts talking about SpringFour.

What are you hearing from others at OppLoans about having SpringFour applications available?

As a company, we’re always looking for new ways to deliver for our customers. As we’ve rolled out SpringFour to overwhelmingly positive responses from customers, our leadership team has frequently pointed to it as a success story. Our mission lies in helping our customers build a better financial path, and our leaders understand how this partnership with SpringFour speaks directly to that.

Want to find out more about how your company can partner with SpringFour to create significant impact, then reach out!

Katie Gottschall Donohue

Vice President, Strategy and Customer Engagement, SpringFour Inc.

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How You Can Help Solve The Student Loan Crisis

How You Can Help Solve The Student Loan Crisis

I remember feeling physically lighter, like taking off a heavy backpack after a long hike. It was a warm spring morning just last year when I opened my email to find an official notice. I had reached an important milestone that will set me up for a healthy financial future – No, I’m not talking about buying a house or opening a retirement account (or reaching a mountain summit). I’m fondly remembering the day I learned that I had paid off my last student loan.

I’m lucky to have been able to accomplish this before turning 40. In fact, student loan debt is not just a problem for recent graduates. A recent AARP report found that Americans over 50 owe almost $290 billion of the nation’s student loans, up from $47 billion 15 years ago. In total more than 44 million Americans have outstanding student loan debt, owing more than $1.5 trillion. Despite prolific media reports about students who borrow upwards of $100,000, the large sums that are owed don’t illustrate the true problem. Studies show that those with less student loan debt are actually more likely to default because of lower earning potential and other debt obligations and financial struggles. In fact, almost 1 in 3 people who owe less than $5,000 for their education default within four years, compared with just 15 percent of borrowers who owed more than $35,000. Defaulting on even a small student loan can cause a borrower’s credit score to tank, forcing them to pay higher interest rates, and delaying asset building. 

A recent survey from Student Loan Hero showed most borrowers harbor a lot of misconceptions about how to handle the debt, from believing that you don’t have to pay off your loans if you can’t find a job after graduation, to thinking that student loans don’t impact your credit score. Findings also suggest that in many cases, misconceptions, lack of clarity about how to pay off debt, and general feelings of being overwhelmed are more an indication of whether a student will default, rather than the actual loan amount. 

So let’s do something about this. As innovators in FinTech we can’t relieve everyone’s debt tomorrow, but we can do better to help consumers find assistance. 

How can we get student loan borrowers the help they need to get out of debt faster? 

By providing information through channels that struggling borrowers are already accessing for assistance, like SpringFour.  

Did you know the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program could eliminate some of your student loan debt if you work in a public sector job? Or about possible interest rates discounts for enrolling in autopay? I certainly didn’t when I graduated from college. And I wish I had. A lot of information is available on the internet, but how do consumers know that it is trustworthy and unbiased? 

At SpringFour our mission is to provide financial institutions, employers, and nonprofits with the tools they need to improve their customer’s financial lives. Our subscribers are already using SpringFour to make thousands of referrals each day to local resources that address financial challenges. We’d like to extend this helping hand further and offer documents with concrete, clear steps that anyone can take to improve their financial situation and save money in a variety of areas. 

SpringFour Tip Sheets for Saving Money are now available in a variety of categories to all subscribers through both our call center application (S4pro) and self-serve tool (S4direct). Tips for Paying Back Student Loans Faster is our latest tip sheet that provides suggestions to better understand repayment options, save money on interest rates, and find deferment and forgiveness programs. Our expert data team drew upon our personal and professional experiences to create this easy to reference list of tips and tricks that can help any borrower lighten their load, pay off their student loans faster, and put them on a path to achieving true financial wellness. 

Contact us to find out more about what you can do to help your customers and employees who are struggling with student loan debt. 

Cassandra Compton

Vice President, Data Integrity & User Experience, SpringFour Inc.

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SpringFour + Partners = Impact

SpringFour + Partners = Impact

Financial Health for consumers has quickly risen to the strategic forefront as a huge focus for many companies across our nation; especially knowing that 40%+ of Americans don’t have $400 in the bank for emergency expenses (per a report published the Federal Reserve). And, with all kinds of creative solutions being devised, partnerships with emerging FinTechs being formed, and billions of dollars being invested into the “Financial Health ” strategy bucket, it has most of us wondering “are we making an impact?” Well…at SpringFour, we ask that question every day, as we want to be certain that our solutions not only sound like the right thing to do, but also confirm what we believe to be true – that access to local, vetted and trusted resources helps to reduce expenses and financially stabilizes households. 

Solutions That Work

SpringFour solutions (S4pro and S4direct) enable access to nearly 14k local non-profit and government resources aimed at reducing household expenses in up to 30 spending categories (Food Savings, Utility Savings, Medical Savings, etc.). By annually connecting over 250k struggling Americans to these high impact resources, SpringFour gets individuals and families living paycheck to paycheck back on track and helps to create a cushion for paying down debt and setting aside savings. And, in partnership with our clients, we have proven that offering SpringFour solutions really DOES make an impact.

Consumer Impact & Case Studies

Published case studies with our client partners U.S. Bank and LendUp demonstrate the positive impact SpringFour is creating for the consumer, the employee, the business and its brand. Evidential data within these studies show that the SpringFour solutions increased debt repayment by 10% and more than doubled the likelihood of consumers participating in key activities such as foreclosure prevention. These figures were fueled by the finding that many of those who received SpringFour resource referrals reduced their household expenses by as much as $250 per month, with some cases showing savings north of $1,000 per month. These savings impact figures were highlighted by the fact that many of the struggling consumers receiving SpringFour referrals stated that just a $50 per month cushion would greatly assist in managing repeated and unexpected income swings.

Employee Well-Being & Productivity

Going a step further, SpringFour has also pursued other meaningful and impactful measures with our client partners. Beyond the impressive portfolio impact and consumer expense savings figures stated above, we also found that offering SpringFour to consumers had an impact on the purpose and well-being of the employees providing the SpringFour resource referrals. With nearly 75% of employees stating that SpringFour improves their ability to provide customer service and over 80% of employees agreeing that SpringFour allows them to provide quality financial health resources to their consumers, SpringFour has found a way to create a stronger mission-based bond between not only a company and its consumer, but between the company and its employee. Consequently, we are seeing upticks to key employee measurements such as employee retention rate when SpringFour is part of the equation. And, the benefits of this stat alone can save a company thousands of dollars per employee each year.

Brand Value

At SpringFour we also see that the brand value of a company offering SpringFour solutions improves. And, brand value alone can have immeasurable impact over the course of a company’s journey with their consumers. In fact, we have client partners that are tracking significant improvement to NPS scores due to the introduction of the SpringFour offering. This impact to brand and company loyalty can be attributed to 94% of surveyed respondents noting that SpringFour helps provide for a better experience and that 88% of those same respondents stating that SpringFour addresses real-life problems and greatly reduces stress. These impact stats are also echoed within an insightful Q&A piece with BMO Harris Bank where we share how SpringFour is changing the typical collections conversation and is providing a tool that is easy to use with 90% of those surveyed noting appreciation by the consumer for the referrals delivered. 

Looking Ahead

We are proud of the work we have been able to accomplish alongside our client partners over the last 15 years we have been in business, but we are not stopping there. At SpringFour, we have our sights set on continuing to expand and improve our solution offerings. This will enable us to build on the already incredible impact that we have created. 

In order to continue and accelerate our impact, we will look to build on our nationwide coverage – currently offering financial health resource listings in all 50 states and in 475 cities. Additionally, we will work hand-in-hand with our client partners to ensure that our product evolves with the need of their consumer base and continues to provide access to the most trusted local resources aimed at reducing expenses and increasing overall financial health. Lastly, we will sustain our track record of building partnerships that respond to and deliver required scale, ensuring more consumers have the help they need and deserve to be financially healthy. In doing all of this, SpringFour and its client partners will resoundingly answer “YES!” to the question of “are we making an impact?” 

Want to find out more about partnering with SpringFour to make an impact? Get in touch. 

Scott Freeze

Chief Operating Officer, SpringFour Inc.

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For all inquiries:
866-732-2246

Chicago Office at 1871
222 Merchandise Mart Plaza Floor 12

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