As our economy re-opens, some things will remain the same. Others will have forever shifted. One of the biggest shifts is the long-term move to remote work. For small businesses, the “home” office may take on new meaning altogether. By not being tied to brick-and-mortar space, business owners can work out of their den, their mountain retreat, or a relative’s sunbelt condo. 

If you’re a community bank or credit union with a small geographic footprint, you can’t rely on small business owners to live or work near a branch anymore. But by digitizing your lending processes, you can reach all of your small business customers—no matter where they are—and ensure that you retain them as customers. 

For many small banks and credit unions, digital transformation isn’t a new concept. The wide-reaching benefits of digitizing your lending practice—like increased efficiency, expanded operational capacity, and higher revenue—are reasons enough to eliminate manual lending workflows. After all, manual underwriting and approval processes can cost lenders as much as $5,000 in productivity loss—and thousands more in missed opportunities. 

Adapting to remote business operations with digital lending workflows

Without warning, COVID-19 forced lenders to confront inefficiencies in their lending strategies head on. As stay-at-home orders rolled out across the country and remote work became the norm, digitizing your lending practice was more than a smarter way to do business; for all intents and purposes, it was the only way to do business. 

Sure, heading to the branch to fill out a loan application was a chore before COVID, but it quickly became an impossibility afterward. In response, small business lenders had to find new ways of conducting business. As many lenders quickly realized, a remote lending practice yields benefits beyond COVID-19, providing a framework for small banks and credit unions that wish to: 

  • Achieve business continuity in an unpredictable environment: As made evident by the events of the last year, being able to adopt new operational procedures overnight is a critical feature of any modern enterprise. In addition to creating a more effective loan  experience for end users, a digital lending practice promotes greater business agility and flexibility—both of which are necessary in today’s business landscape.
  • Minimize operational costs and increase efficiency: Even before COVID, most small business lenders had already digitized at least one stage of their small business lending. Now, the benefits of end-to-end automation and enterprise-wide digitization are demonstrating their ability to deliver more credit to customers—with less risk and overhead. From origination and underwriting to servicing and collections, eliminating traditionally manual lending processes is an easy way to save time, cut costs, and increase intake volumes.
  • Improve the customer experience: In today’s fast-paced, digital marketplace, consumers are becoming increasingly accustomed to quick, easy transactions. Small business lending is no exception. Offering a contactless lending that lets new customers go from application to approval from anywhere in the world in hours, if not minutes is critical for any modern lender, especially those that wish to remain competitive in a remote marketplace. 

Small business lending should be easy

As organizations and small businesses adapt to the ‘new normal’ of remote work, you can’t assume that your customers are within driving distance of your office. In-person lending is, for the most part, a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean your lending opportunities are evaporating. Contactless, digitized lending helps you retain your relevancy, customers, and revenue streams in any business environment. 

The reality of today’s remote marketplace doesn’t just suggest transitioning to a digital practice; it demands it. Even as employees head back to the office, the benefits of supporting a remote work environment are here to stay.