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How Academy Bank and Salesforce Streamline the Lending Process

Academy Bank, part of a family of banks with over $3 billion in assets, helps individuals and businesses of any size with their banking and lending needs. Like many financial institutions, Academy Bank needed to mobilize quickly in order to prepare for the Paycheck Protections Program (PPP). Trust and transparency with customers are paramount to Academy Bank, but their original application process was manual and not all customer-facing associates had visibility into the status of a customer’s PPP loan process.

To solve this, Jeff Berger, Academy Bank’s Salesforce Admin and co-leader of the Kansas City Salesforce User Group, created an app on Salesforce to provide its associates with a real-time, 360-degree view of the application process – from when a customer applies for a loan to underwriting to funding. And with Salesforce’s low-code capabilities, Jeff was able to build this automated loan application tracking app in just five hours!

We got the chance to talk with Jeff about some of the innovative ways Academy Bank has leveraged the Salesforce Platform to quickly pivot its business and rapidly respond to the needs of its customers, employees and community:

Q. How did Salesforce’s low-code capabilities enable you to launch the loan tracking app so quickly, and what impact did that have for Academy Bank’s customers?

Low-code means no compiling and no test classes, which helps you get straight to solving your business problem. In my Salesforce sandbox, I grabbed a spreadsheet of the application data that had been collected so far, used the very cool custom object from spreadsheet functionality, and stood up a custom object to track the PPP applications in Salesforce.

And to ensure adoption of the new app internally and create a clear, consistent process across the business, we added many associates as first-time users. This translated into a consistent experience for our clients, and allowed us to process a significantly higher number of loan applications than we originally anticipated.

Q. In addition to low-code, tell us more about how Salesforce technology enabled you to support customers applying for the Paycheck Protection Program?

The two most critical elements that made our PPP loan application tracking app successful were speed and visibility. It was essential that we build a system that could move our clients through the application process as quickly as possible since there was a limited pool of available funds. And because of the time-sensitive nature of PPP, it was imperative that no client applications fell through the cracks. Leveraging the right list views, reports and dashboards within Salesforce helped us identify any applications that were being held up or that hadn’t yet been assigned to an associate so we could quickly address them.

Q. What are some other business challenges that Academy Bank has faced as a result of COVID-19, and how are you solving for them?

Overnight we transitioned to an almost exclusively remote workforce and at the same time we saw an increased demand for our financial services. Since we couldn’t walk down the hall to a colleague’s office anymore, we needed a way to collaborate efficiently while remote. The Salesforce Platform has enabled our entire commercial lending operation to continue to work closely together to address the needs of our clients, while giving us the flexibility to adjust to new environments. For example, on the fly, we were able to build mechanisms into the Platform to track and approve COVID-19 related loan modification requests. Utilizing the same Platform for the forgiveness process of the PPP client loans, we are now further leveraging and enhancing our digital client experience by using Salesforce Financial Services Cloud and nCino’s portal functionality.

Q. Are there any creative or innovative solutions that Academy Bank has implemented with the help of technology?

We have deployed Interactive Teller Machines (“ITMs”) throughout our branches and at Academy Bank Express locations in Kansas City, Arizona and Colorado. These video banking solutions expand the services we can offer to our clients at remote, non-branch locations. In addition to pushing the boundaries with live video interaction, we are in the middle of a significant upgrade to our online banking solutions for both our retail and commercial clients. At the heart of this innovation is the Salesforce Customer 360, which we are leveraging to better understand and react to our clients’ needs.

Q. How is technology enabling Academy Bank to build stronger relationships with its customers?

There are a lot of people whose relationships with banks or financial institutions are strained at best. There’s a perception of a bank as a black box; the client doesn’t have a lot of knowledge or understanding of what goes on behind the teller line and that can lead to a lack of trust. With Salesforce, where the associate-facing back office and the client-facing portal can be built on the same platform, banks and financial institutions have the opportunity to personalize their interactions with clients and for clients to be more directly engaged with their assets. Actions that in the past might have required assistance from an associate can now be completed by the client on their phone. This greater level of engagement and empowerment is creating better experiences for our clients and a deeper level of trust in our relationships.

Additionally, by using Financial Services Cloud (FSC), we can now see and appreciate relational structures across our clients like never before. FSC provides real-time management data that helps to identify areas where we can do more for our clients across multiple bank product lines.

Q. Going forward, how do you envision Academy Bank will leverage Salesforce’s low-code capabilities to continue to meet client’s needs?

As technology continues to evolve clients’ expectations of the companies they do business with, it is going to be critical that banks deliver consistent experiences regardless of the channel of engagement. Tools like Salesforce Lightning Flow have enabled us to deliver a connected experience, whether the client is in a branch, on the phone with a representative or self-serving online. For the remainder of 2020, I’m focused on leveraging some of the additional out-of-the-box tools available in Financial Services Cloud, including client onboarding and “Next Best Action.” We are also extending the Salesforce Platform to our Business Banking team to support Academy Bank’s commercial customers, and using Salesforce Flow and Process Builder to capture critical data about our new PPP clients so that we can better understand their needs.