Building a Team Obsessed with Customer Experience - Lendmark Financial
Our favorite kinds of blogs are the ones where we get to celebrate the awesome work of our own customers. Not only is it fun to brag about their achievements, but hopefully an exciting read for you, as you begin to learn what’s possible for your business.
Lendmark Financial Services is a leading consumer finance company helping consumers meet both planned and unplanned life events through affordable loan offerings. Today, with over 2,000 employees and over 455 branches in 21 states, Lendmark continues to grow, serving more than 400,000 customers annually with superior, reliable, and consistent financial services that help protect household wealth, offer stability, and make a real difference in people’s lives.
Customer Experience is Mission Critical
As a community-focused, relationship-based business model and company, Lendmark relies on its frontline retail branch staff to provide excellent customer experience to thrive and earn great customer reviews and referrals. Customer experience, in fact, serves as a vital brand differentiator, as Lendmark has little wiggle room to differentiate solely through its offerings. When customers have a positive experience, they return to Lendmark and refer their friends and family. If customers have a poor experience, they’re quick to use another provider while broadcasting their disappointment online and through word of mouth.
No Clear View
The problem was that Lendmark had no clear, consistent, real-time insight into their customer experience, nor process for how to address and improve issues. While branch staff and management received some ad hoc customer feedback, it covered a limited set of issues and didn’t tell the whole story.
This left Lendmark’s field and operations leaders with little actionable information to coach frontline staff, in turn, leaving Lendmark vulnerable to inconsistent service delivery, and missed opportunities for repeat business and referrals.
Also, there was no consistent, data-driven means of providing recognition for a job well done, and loan consultants had no clear guidance on what ‘good’ liked like. Crucially, while Lendmark tracked and addressed formal complaints, they didn’t have a process for dealing with negative feedback -- understanding what went wrong and how to make things right.
Lendmark CMO Ethan Andelman knew he had catch-up work to do in the customer experience arena. Before implementing AskNicely, Lendmark didn’t have a customer experience strategy in place. However, Ethan knew he couldn’t just collect more customer feedback, make a few adjustments, and leave it at that. He needed a way to improve customer experience during the whole relationship and not just during specific transactions. In summary, Lendmark needed a solution that would give management insight into the entire customer journey, track trends to spark coaching conversations and recognize their employees for awesome work when it happened.
“I felt Lendmark needed to get ahead of customer experience and I didn’t want to do it the way I had seen it done before. Everything I saw showed me how NOT to do it.”
Ethan Andelman, Chief Marketing Officer at Lendmark Financial
After evaluating several options, Ethan and the leadership team chose AskNicely. Lendmark was then able to gain a more holistic view of how customer satisfaction was changing over time and what was impacting it. They then used real-time customer feedback to optimize their customer experience at every touchpoint with built-in personalized coaching tips for loan consultants, and automated shoutouts for great work as it happened.
Lendmark knows that this best-practice customer experience program has a massive impact on the company’s ability to grow. According to the latest research by Metrigy, companies who invest in closing frontline feedback loops, empowering and rewarding frontline teams and providing personalized coaching like Lendmark did, see dramatic increases to revenue, employee efficiency and customer satisfaction. In fact, businesses with strong frontline satisfaction programs saw a 25% increase in revenue improvement, 64% increase in employee efficiency improvement and a 73% increase in customer satisfaction improvement.
- Lendmark has a full view of the customer experience across the entire customer journey. They now have clear insights into what is impacting customer experience and what to do about it.
- With this data at their fingertips, they can easily spot trends before they become a problem.
- Managers have their own view on what is happening across their regions and branches, down to individual loan consultants. They know exactly what they need to work on and what to coach their loan consultants on.
- Loan consultants have instant access to feedback from their customers, and take action based on what they say. “In some cases, we re-learned how to listen to customers,” said one.
- Team members no longer just hear feedback when things go wrong, they’re caught and celebrated when they get things right.
- Loan consultants are given the coaching they need to deliver on Lendmark’s service promise every time. As a result of this coaching, Lendmark’s NPS score (tested at multiple stages in the customer journey) has increased month on month!
As a result of this coaching, during their pilot period, 80% of locations saw an increase in their NPS, with an average increase of 15 points!
Lendmark is on track to prove that NPS directly links to their company profitability, proving that focusing on employee experience is the key to customer loyalty and growth. Now 450 branches are operating with AskNicely in place, 50% have seen an increase in NPS, with an average increase of 39 points!
Employees are obsessed!
Implementing a new program or technology into a large business with hundreds of branches can often be met with resistance. Yet the opposite has been true with the AskNicely implementation – employees have embraced the feedback. For example, when Ethan called a branch in North Georgia to check in, saying “You might like me or hate me but I’m calling about the AskNicely program -- I see you’ve already been into the app about 27 times” the branch manager replied, “Am I obsessed or what!?” He confirmed how impactful this solution is for both the frontline and the bottom line.
Another branch manager said: “We've enjoyed the feedback and it’s helped us improve our customer service and the customer experience.”
Confident, motivated, and empowered employees were delivering awesome experiences to customers, and happy and impressed customers were coming back for repeat business and referrals.
While it may provide an ego boost to look at the vanity metrics of your business like
annual changes in NPS or CSAT, it won’t do anyone any favors. Uncovering real-time truth and setting out to take action with an employee-focused approach will help you catch the bugs in your system, improve the experience for both your employees and your customers, and ultimately improve your bottom line.
Want to learn more about empowering the frontline to drive awesome customer experience? We wrote the book on frontline success. Get the latest research from AskNicely on how the world’s most innovative service brands lead from the frontline.