New customers faced confusion and frustration in completing the online loan application form and either dropped off or submitted applications with mistakes that delayed their loan eligibility. Returning customers didn't have a clear path to access their previous application.
While increased conversion in loan applicants was the main goal to attain higher funding rates, because applications submitted with mistakes need to be manually reviewed the business was facing reduced productivity in decisioning.
Heavy Call Volumes
Loan advocates were inundated with calls from customers seeking guidance as they struggled to complete their loan application form and made mistakes with questions that determined their loan eligibility.
How might we...
optimize the loan application flow to better guide and engage customers through increased clarity and transparency?
Dynamic, Mobile-First Application Flow to Engage and Guide Customers
OppLoans is known for its stellar customer service through its call center. By translating this into their digital experience through a guided, transparent, and streamlined loan application, they can more efficiently serve their customers.
New Loan Application
Customers visiting OppLoans' application for the first time need additional guidance through the questions regarding personal, income, and banking information. Leveraging a single-question-per-page format, a conversational tone for questions, and interactive form fields can better engage customers in ensuring each question is answered accurately.
Current customers with an active loan and eligible to refinance need to submit a refinance loan application. Presenting fewer pre-populated fields based on their last application while offering them the opportunity to update any information that has since changed can streamline their taskflow in submitting the applicaton.
For customers who've previously applied for a loan and are returning to do so again, presenting a fully pre-populated form with highlighted fields to draw attention to can help customers submit their application faster and with less friction.
New Customer Loan Application
EMPOWERING CUSTOMERS THROUGH SELF-SERVICE
OppLoans offers installment loans to the under-served sub-prime financial population that cannot access mainstream financial services. With customers new, existing, and returning all applying for loans through the same online form that doesn't address the different task flows of these varying customers , I was presented with the opportunity to re-evaluate and redesign the online loan application experience.
As the UX Strategist at OppLoans I worked to identify the pain points in the current application flow, meet business goals and constraints for the application funnel, conceptualize alternative designs for the application, and create an optimized experience for each segment of customers we serve.
OppLoans (Opportunity Financial), January 2020 - present
In addition to looking at direct competitors in financial services, I decided to examine designs of online application forms across different industries such as employment, car sales, medical and insurance. I found that expanding my research to this range allowed me to further and fully explore approaches that might have been overlooked in the financial services industry.
For this project I worked with a variety of stakeholders from Marketing, Credit, Business Operations, Tech, Legal, and Compliance to identify goals and constraints for a redesign of the online loan application. Despite the often conflicting approaches from the different departments, my role granted me the ability to bridge these perspectives to align to a more united, singular focus.
Taking both mobile and desktop experiences into account while considering the task flows of both new and returning customers, I explored and iterated through different layouts and page formats. I thought through each individual interaction to ensure a seamless experience for customers seeking to access a loan. Design principles, persona behaviors, and helped guide my final design.
Being the first UX role to the organization, I have been largely autonomous in identifying opportunities for change and improvements, in showing the value of prioritizing user experience through research-based insights and effective storytelling, and in making design decisions to set up the future vision for OppLoans' digital customer experience.
Shadowing Customer Calls
I spent upwards of 30 hours listening to customer calls to loan advocates and noting down common concerns and confusions regarding the application flow. Hearing customers live describe their struggles and frustration provided with invaluable insights as to how consumers' perception of the application questions differed from the business' intention of asking the questions.
One page application before decision
Includes additional validation instructions on key data fields
Shows messages about credit score concerns before submit
Very long scrolling form on mobile devices, opens possibility to miss or err in fields
Using the mystery shopper model, I studied the online loan application experiences of OppLoans' direct competitor. I used the SWOT framework to identify potential areas for changes and improvement for OppLoans' application. In addition, I also looked at other industries to find unique application flows.
Previous Loan Application Flow
82% of customers applying for a loan did so on a mobile device.
Customers were often distraught while completing the loan application.
The most common mistake customers made resulted from fat-fingering.
Customers struggled with particular terms in the income section that were understood by the business but not clear to the lay person.
Fields were static which means customers were forced to answer questions not applicable to them.
Existing and returning customers went through the same application form as new customers.
This person has never before submitted a loan application to OppLoans before.
Need the most guidance and support through application
This person has submitted a loan application to OppLoans and has a current loan.
(Not all fields are editable)
Need the least guidance as the application is relatively fresh on their minds
This person has submitted a loan application before and was either denied or was approved and paid off their loan.
(Not all fields are editable)
Need a moderate amount of guidance as more time has passed since they last applied
By meeting customers with dignity and communicating with optimism and respect, we can affirm our commitment to human investment.
When it comes to as sensitive a topic as finances, clarity and transparency are vital to inspiring customer confidence and earning their trust.
Structure and clear hierarchies in our design can help customers feel more confident and in control of their options.
Embodying growth and forward movement can help instill in customers the confidence in both our product and their financial decisions.
Through wireframing, I first explored ordering of application questions to best follow a typical customer's conceptual model. I then explored more human, conversational language to ask customers for information.
Early Low-Fidelity Mockup
Moving up in fidelity, I iterated with the use of a mascot agent to guide the customer and make the application flow feel less overwhelming of an experience.
With guidance from marketing, I iterated on the presence of the mascot agent. I also explored incorporating a greater application stage tracker as the form is only the first step of the overall loan application.
For the final design, I chose to follow the design principles closely and present a minimal, clean layout to really guide the customer's attention to each field. I drew from the Material UI library for simple, standardized field designs.
New Loan Application
New customers need the most guidance through the loan application to ensure they answer questions without mistake so they can be decisioned sooner.