A usability study was conducted to test customer satisfaction derived from the use of digital lending platforms, particularly Zikher’s platform. Below is the methodology and key results from the study:
The financial industry is embracing digitization, for it is the future of banking. As there are efforts to make the lending process completely digital, it is important to analyze bank customers’ experience with digital lending platforms. Previous studies and surveys have expressed that there is a need for a digital banking experience, especially among millennials. However, there hasn’t been extensive research surrounding digital lending and customer satisfaction, so Zikher conducted a usability study to answer the following question:
RQ: In what ways and to what extent does a bank’s use of a digital lending platform create a greater degree of customer satisfaction than traditional, face-to-face lending transactions?
To answer the above research question, an online survey was created using SurveyGizmo™. The researcher used convenience sampling, in which teachers and students were surveyed at Saint Mary’s College, as well as friends and family of the researcher, and people in an office building in San Francisco, CA. For this study, participants interacted with a prototype of Zikher’s digital lending platform and took a survey that tested their satisfaction. The survey had sixteen scaled questions and two open ended questions that measured their satisfaction (i.e. easiness, preference, and comfort) with Zikher’s platform.
A total of 21 people participated in the usability study and answered the online survey. Of those participants, 47.6% were male and 52.4% were female. Respondents had an age range from 20-59 years old. In terms of ethnicity and race, 52.4% were White/Caucasian, 4.8% were Black/African American, 4.8% were Hispanic/Latino/Latina, 28.6% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 9.5% were mixed-race. When asked what kind of bank they are currently a customer at, 72.7% reported that they are a customer at a large corporate bank, 13.6% reported that they are a customer at a regional bank, and 13.6% reported that they are a customer at a credit union. When asked what type of banks that participants have previously applied for a loan at, 42.9% reported large corporate bank, 23.8% reported regional bank, 9.5% reported community bank, 14.3% reported credit union, and 42.9% reported that they’ve never applied for a loan before.
Attitudes toward Zikher’s Platform
When asked if they felt that Zikher’s platform is more efficient than the current loan application process, 4.8% participants somewhat disagreed, 4.8% neither disagreed nor agreed, 28.6% somewhat agreed, 33.3% strongly agreed, 28.6% reported not applicable because they’ve never applied for a loan before.
When asked if they felt satisfied with the ease of utilizing Zikher’s platform, 9.5% of participants neither disagreed nor agreed, 28.6% somewhat agree, 61.9% strongly agreed.
When asked if they could imagine if people could learn to use this platform quickly, 5% neither disagreed nor agreed, 20% somewhat agreed, and 75% strongly agreed.
Participants were asked an open-ended question: “In you own words, please describe your feelings about the platform (i.e. what you liked, what you didn’t like, what could be better). The most two most frequently used words in participants’ responses were the words “easy” and “clean” when describing Zikher’s platform.
When asked if they thought that they would use Zikher’s platform the next time they apply for a loan, 4.8 strongly disagreed, 14.3% somewhat disagreed, 4.8 somewhat disagreed, 4.8 % neither disagreed nor agreed, 19% somewhat agreed, and 57.1% strongly agreed.
Participants were asked their preferred method of communication with their loan officer, in which 57.1% of participants chose phone call, 9.5% chose video chat, 4.8% chose web chat, and 28.6% chose face-to-face
Participants were asked an open-ended question, “In you your own words, please describe what you could consider to be the ideal loan application process.” The three most frequently used words were “simple,” “easy,” and “fast.” A word map was created to highlight recurring answers to this question
CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION
The results of this study extend our understanding of how a bank’s use of a digital lending platform creates a greater degree of customer satisfaction than traditional, face-to-face lending transactions. Participants were satisfied with Zikher’s digital lending platform because of the gratification they derive out of their media usage, as UGT predicted. A significant finding arose, in which the majority of those who have previously applied for a loan thought that Zikher’s platform is more efficient than the current loan application process. This may suggest that they are unhappy with the current process and want the efficiency and ease with which a digital lending platform provides them. When examining the individual reports, it was interesting to note that every participant who responded that they have previously applied for a loan at a large corporate bank, reported either that they somewhat or strongly agreed that Zikher’s platform is more efficient than the current loan application process. These findings are significant because almost all large corporate banks have somewhat of a digital loan process unlike small banks, and they still seem to be unsatisfied. It seems they have a need for the loan process to be completely digital. This is also shown through the fact that the majority (57.1%) reported that they would use Zikher’s platform the next time they apply for a loan.
Through the coded analysis of the two open-ended questions, it was concluded that participants were satisfied with Zikher’s platform. To describe the platform, participants used words like: clean, simple, straightforward, easy, intuitive, quick, user-friendly, etc. Five out of the twenty participants suggested improvements or additions, but none of them expressed a strong dislike for existing features. The three most frequent suggestions were the addition of help bubbles to assist customers in their application, loan parameters, and interest rates. It is important to note that everyone was satisfied with the digitization of the process, as no one reported that they would prefer it to be a paper-based process. Most of the words to describe what participants considered as the “ideal loan process” were also used to describe what they liked about Zikher’s platform, suggesting that they were satisfied with the process.
The data tends to suggest that people prefer computer-mediated communication when interacting with their bank, as 57.1% of participants chose phone call as their preferred method of communication with their loan officer. One participant described the ideal loan application process as one with “minimal human interaction.” Participants who chose digital channels as their preferred method of communications were a mix of ages ranging from the baby boomer to millennial generation. This information proves the previous hypothesis wrong, as results show that millennials are not the only generation pushing for a digital experience. It was surprising that 28.6% of participants chose face-to-face as their most preferred method of communication with their loan officer, as it would be assumed that all digital channels would precede in terms of preference. This could suggest that there is a push for a digital lending experience but not at the expense of complete loss of human interaction as previously found in Harland’s (2016) study, “Consumer Attitudes Toward Fintech.”
Author: Whitney Besser