As the saying goes, necessity breeds innovation—and the COVID-19 crisis has certainly been no exception. Businesses have had to adapt to stay open, speeding up many of the trends that have emerged in recent years. 

Fact: Those with the newest technology and highest level of convenience get the customers.

From Millennials to Gen Xers, business owners are willing to pay more for faster loan decisions. Small business capital is needed now more than ever, but if your lending institution isn’t primed to provide it efficiently, you’ll lose to the competition.

Today, it’s not enough to simply wait-and-see what the future brings—customers need you to catch-up and innovate now. But here’s the thing—your competitors are already there. Here’s how you can narrow the gap and remain ahead of the game. 

Act small, but think like a large bank

Your bank has historically relied upon relationships and in-person services. While that may have been preferable years ago, today that model is less appealing. From Bank of America to the Amazon and Goldman Sachs partnerships, large banks know how to give customers what they really want: quick service and quicker answers. That’s not to say you should abandon the personalized nature of your bank, but you need to deliver on-demand convenience—and accessibility—like the big guys do. Once you secure the customer, you can add a level of personal service that no one else can.

Go technology-first

In a digital-powered world, your loan application is either at the customer’s fingertips or it isn’t. To be on the right side of that equation, you need to ensure your technological infrastructure is up to snuff. Using an end-to-end lending platform tailored to small business needs can help you reach more small business owners and provide the convenience they need. But the advantages don’t stop there—a small-business lending platform can provide you with:

  • A tool to capture applicant information, and
    • Turn them into customers, if they aren’t already
    • Identify potential upsell opportunities for existing customers 
  • Small business-specific lending criteria and added flexibility to assess creditworthiness
  • Data that tells you more about your customer base, explains their habits, and helps you make strategic decisions moving forward
  • Automation capabilities that lower the cost of small business lending

When digital offers a better way to serve your customers, choosing it is a no-brainer. 

Promote your business

Some of your larger competitors have the advantage of national—and even global—brand recognition. If your services are on par, there’s no reason why you can’t gain the same reputation and credibility as other lenders in your geographic footprint. Once you’ve got a strong digital infrastructure in place, use that to leverage your brand and establish market leadership. 

A tailored campaign touting how customers can apply from the comfort of their homes or offices can help you reach new audiences who may not have time to step into a banking branch, especially when it may not be safe to do so. And emailing your existing customers to let them know you offer the same services as your competitors will help you retain those you have depository relationships with. This extends into evaluating your database of SMB customers to send loan pre-approvals, making them more likely to explore your loan options (and helping you increase profits). 

If you’re prepared to innovate and adapt to changing needs, your customers will stand by you—and you’ll be well-positioned to take on the competition.