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!
“SpringFour helps our customers by providing them with ways
to supplement their income and get back on track after facing a financial shock.”
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.
Katie Gottschall Donohue
Vice President, Strategy and Customer Engagement, SpringFour Inc.