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Automating Loan Processes Improves Customer Satisfaction


By James Woods

Community banks, faced with increasingly strict regulation, often find it a challenge to meet profitability goals. More challenging still, the mobile and web services from larger institutions can draw away even the most loyal customers. The Bank of Tennessee is facing these realities head-on by using an application platform software strategy. This approach blends business process management with mobile and social capability, which has yielded a 30 percent improvement in loan processing in terms of speed, data quality and process visibility. Our loan officers now make full use of the mobile environment, processing loans and collaborating with clients from almost anywhere.

Bank of Tennessee, which started in 1974, has grown to more than 250 professionals in 20 locations, and now has $926 million in assets and more than 50 loan officers. Of course, Bank of Tennessee competes with larger regional and national banks; these institutions have larger technology budgets that let them offer better customer responsiveness than many community banks. It’s simply a fact that after competitive interest rates, customers are most concerned about closing their loan and funding their loan quickly. We knew that by improving key internal processes we could provide that speed and improve the customer experience.

Automating Business Processes

We chose to start with business process management strategy for improvement. We knew that we needed a more mobile and collaborative environment, incorporating some aspects of social media. We chose the Appian application platform to create and deliver the process improvements we needed, along with providing the mobile and social technologies of an intuitive and easy-to-use interface.

Within process improvement, we took on mortgages first. Mortgage loans are critically important to our organization. We had to find a way to work through previous limitations in loan generation — things like manual hand-offs, paper-based systems, poor visibility into processes and inconsistent communications among relevant parties.

In particular, we knew we needed an implementation plan to offer mobile and social technology. The Appian application platform let us incorporate social collaboration in the context of business processes.

Development in the Cloud

We benchmarked against the regional and national banks for some idea of how they were addressing the same issues. We knew that we couldn’t compete with the national banks’ resources in delivering traditional custom solutions. So we looked to address our key requirements while keeping development and ongoing support affordable.

That meant using an application platform for comprehensive, dynamic case management. In loan origination, large volumes of paperwork must be reviewed, approved and maintained across structured automation and unstructured collaborative in-person meetings. We used the application platform to integrate business rules, alerts, and escalations. By presenting enterprise data in a simple social interface, established business processes can be sped up and streamlined, improving decision making — especially where there may be exceptions to standard policies.

We built our mortgage loan origination application using Appian Cloud. That let us get a quick start on application development even though we were still waiting for on-premise deployment. Cloud architecture meant we could move the production deployment of the entire cloud application behind the Bank of Tennessee firewall.

Our new custom loan origination system combines all pertinent communication, processes and data into one platform. Now, loan officers, managers and underwriters can collaborate to process loans in less time and in a much more organized manner. We’ve automated business rules, for flexibility that has eliminated our reliance on paper forms, faxes, emails and regular mail.

Dynamic case management and structured automation has created better interaction between our loan officers and our customers. Because the application works natively on the iPad, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry, our loan officers can initiate, check on or modify a customer loan requests no matter where they may be.

Improving the Customer Experience

By implementing this application, Bank of Tennessee has seen loan approvals processed in less time with better accuracy, which translates into a significant improvement in customer experience. Work moves from one step to the next automatically. We’ve also seen better data quality, less repetition of work processes, and greatly reduced training time for new loan officers.

By creating a loan origination application that automates processes, works natively on multiple mobile platforms and emulates already known social media environments, we’ve achieved numerous critical business objectives. We’ve made loan officers more productive while making our customers happier – all of which lets us compete on a more level playing field with much larger competitors.


James Woods is business process management developer at Bank of Tennessee, Kingsport.

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