Each year in May, we celebrate Mental Health Awareness month. After two years of pandemic stress, keeping up with constantly changing news cycles, and dealing with increasing economic uncertainty, we could all use a mental health boost.
In 2020, one in five American adults had experienced some sort of mental illness, including anxiety, depression, and substance abuse disorder. In 2021, after a year of dealing with a global pandemic and social unrest, the prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by an estimated 25%.
The truth is, we’re all feeling a little frazzled, these days. That’s why it’s more important than ever to take as much stress out of your borrowers’ lives as possible. You want your borrowers to view your institution as a trusted assistant they can count on to see them as a person, help identify financial stressors, and lend a helping hand.
How often do we spend time with an account holder only to complete their requested transaction? It’s our responsibility as financial service providers to “have a conversation” and determine our borrowers’ other financial needs, especially if that conversation could help solve a real-world problem for them (and, in turn, increase loyalty).
Building Borrower Trust and Loyalty
Data from the 2020 Financial Trust Index paints a gloomy picture of peoples’ relationship with their financial institutions. It shows a decrease in trust in financial institutions and increased anger with the economy, with only 31.3% public trust in financial institutions.
How can your institution begin to improve that number while keeping your bottom line in mind? By practicing active listening.
Borrowers are looking for products that offer value, and everyone wants to feel seen and heard. Listening—truly listening—to your borrowers’ situation will help to build the trust and rapport that is so essential to any successful relationship.
Get to know your borrowers well, because what they say—and don't say—may help you discover what is financially important to them. Listen with your ears AND eyes. Take notes, paraphrase, and clarify to ensure you are listening to them—not just passively hearing what they are saying.
Making Sure Your Borrowers Feel Seen and Heard
Finding out more about what’s really going on in your account holders’ lives can also help you determine if it is appropriate to offer one of your institution’s voluntary protection products or send them payment reminders or financial literacy resources to help get ahead of a potential delinquency issue.
For example, if you learn through an honest conversation with a borrower that they’re struggling to make their mortgage payments, it’s probably not a great idea to remind them that your institution offers financing for a new car.
On the other hand, if you learn that the expense of a significant car repair could seriously endanger your borrowers’ long-term financial stability, you’ve just identified a great candidate to enroll in a vehicle protection program like Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP), Major Mechanical Protection (MMP), or SWBC’s newly introduced healthCAR program.
Providing Value and Peace of Mind for More Consumers
As the arbiter of home and auto loans, the custodian of checking and savings accounts, and the primary contact for financial inquiries, you play a major role in your members’ financial wellbeing.
While consumers’ needs may vary, the one thing that remains consistent is they want products and services that bring value to their lives.
When SWBC’s Financial Institution Group recognized that a segment of borrowers was being left behind when it came to vehicle protection plan options beyond the dealership, we launched healthCAR to give any account holder—regardless of the mileage on their vehicle, whether they recently paid off their loan, or where their loan is serviced—the ability to purchase an affordable, monthly (plans start at $53/month) vehicle protection option that can help them budget for and prepare for the inevitable expenses that come with vehicle ownership.
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