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Customer participation at the heart of P2P Finance
Why suggestions from you are the key to constant improvement.
Back in November, I wrote a post about how P2P finance fits into the model of collaborative consumption – otherwise known as the sharing economy.
I made the point that collaborative finance didn’t necessarily need to equal ethical finance, social lending or any other type of ‘do-gooding’. Whilst some of the by-products of crowdlending might very well be good for the wider world (local lending for instance), most investors are in it for the returns, for the chance to make their cash work harder than it would do left in a straightforward deposit account. And that’s absolutely fine.
That doesn’t, however, break the link between P2P finance and the sharing economy. One thing that unites most of the new peer industries that have popped up over the last few years is participation. Peer based businesses need people to participate, whether that’s using someone else’s couch as a bed for the night, sharing a car or borrowing a Boris bike or participating in P2P finance.
By participating, I mean more than simply transacting. After all, transactions happen 24/7 in banks around the world. Participation is about contributing something more to the project, connecting with fellow users or participants and actively trying to make the overall experience more efficient and rewarding for everyone involved.
You see that at work in the forums that exist at Zopa or Funding Circle, you see it at work on this website which provides a great independent source of comparison, and you see it in action on all of the other online threads dedicated to educating new investors or sharing investment strategies.
Last week, I saw it in action from a FundingKnight investor who took the time to suggest some improvements to the lending platform.
Steve Lee, MD of Jumbocruiser, a luxury sleeper coach operator, is an active P2P investor. He uses a variety of P2P / P2B platforms to invest funds on behalf of himself, his company, the Jumbocruiser Retirement Benefits Scheme (where allowed) and Spenion Unlimited. (If you’d like to know more, you can read all about his thoughts on peer finance in this Q&A on the FundingKnight blog.)
On the 19th January, Steve got in touch with FundingKnight to suggest a change to the way that loans were listed on the FundingKnight website. Rather than a simple tick in the “bid made” column to show that a bid had been made, Steve wanted to see the actual amount that he’d bid.
Having exchanged emails over the weekend (and done some development and testing work), the change went live on Monday 21st January – which got me thinking about the responsiveness of small P2P lenders vs. large, global banks.
Having worked in a large bank in a previous life, I know that “change requests” are more likely to take years than days to implement. It’s not necessarily a reflection on the willingness of a bank to listen to customer feedback – although it’s often a struggle to get feedback through to the person who counts – but rather the obvious consequence of behemoth IT systems that have been adapted and added to over decades and now take significant work to change even the tiniest detail.
For peer to peer lenders, however, the agility of modern, responsive systems means that it’s often far easier to respond to customer suggestions and it’s exactly that type of participation that can keep this industry going from strength to strength and keep customers – both lenders and borrowers – at the heart of it.
By listening – and acting on – customer feedback, we can grow an alternative finance sector that avoids the “them and us” mentality that hampers banks. We can provide service that’s genuinely focused on the end customer and we can provide products, and platforms, that are fit for purpose and easy to use.
Steve himself said, “I was really grateful (my suggestions) were considered and I got a personal reply”. Let’s hope that investors continue submitting their suggestions and that P2P platforms do their best to respond… then together, we can build something that really does offer the best for everyone.
What are your experiences? Have you suggested a change to a P2P website? How was it handled? Do you think that P2P platforms are more responsive than big banks? Leave us a comment below.
As she so efficiently and effectively says, the future of P2P and P2B lending and borrowing will very much depend on the empathic design capabilities of the various platforms. I have been distributing my lending across several platforms for five years or so, but am now favouring platforms that are the most responsive to my suggestions for incremental improvements in their user interfaces. I suggest that P2PMoney adds a 'user interface' rating to its comparison tables.
Thanks for the feedback and I'll certainly consider how we can do this !