Zions Bancorporation digitizes SBA lending to serve customers fast.


When COVID-19 first reached the U.S. and public spaces were forced to close, small businesses were hurt most, leaving many with an unclear future. While money became available through the Small Business Administration (SBA), the responsibility fell on banking institutions to intake, manage, and submit applications in a timely and orderly manner.

To provide loan relief to the people and communities affected by the pandemic, Zions Bancorporation, a Utah-based bank holding company, knew it needed to reimagine its loan application experience and scale up quickly to handle the unprecedented influx of thousands of applications. That monumental task was given to Jesse Ronnow, SVP and Director of Digital Marketing.

Let’s take a closer look at the steps Jesse and his team took to optimize the loan process and serve small businesses faster, using Salesforce Customer 360.

Table of Contents

1. Break down silos to deliver unified, personalized experiences.

As a national leader in SBA lending, Zions Bancorporation regularly delivers financial expertise to its customers across eight affiliate banks in the western U.S. As a longtime Salesforce customer, Zions made the decision to consolidate its existing Salesforce instances into one in 2019 to allow for open collaboration across the entire business and provide a seamless customer experience.

Zions Bancorporation has the ambition to gain 360-degree visibility into customers’ financial profiles to unlock the full power of the bank to serve its customers.

During the pandemic, the bank relied on Financial Services Cloud to streamline the lending process so teams could better collaborate to deliver more personalized experiences for customers.


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2. Streamline application collection and visibility.

As COVID-19 shut down businesses across the U.S. and details of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) were released to aid owners, banks began preparing for a massive influx of applications to manage. To ensure timely intake and faster processing, Zions Bancorporation realized it had requirements of its own, including:

  • Bidirectional data flow with customers
  • Banker visibility throughout the entire loan process
  • Easy-to-use dashboards to provide leadership visibility
“We needed a proven platform that would allow us to quickly design a solution that could scale fast enough to capture the largest demand we could foresee.”
Jesse Ronnow
SVP & Director of Digital Marketing
With a need for rapid deployment, Zions Bancorporation built a web-to-lead form that allowed it to:
Accept the leads.
Maintain communication with prospective borrowers while details of the program where in flux.
Notify borrowers once the portal was open for business.

Zions then partnered with Salesforce Professional Services to rapidly build a Community Cloud PPP customer portal that allowed borrowers to:

  1. Complete a digital PPP application
  2. Submit all required documentation
  3. Work seamlessly with a banker after submittal, through approval, and finally to funding.

With the guidance and partnership with Salesforce Professional services, Zions Bank launched a comprehensive solution in just six days to digitally capture, manage, and process applications, eventually placing it ninth in the nation for fulfilling the most PPP loans despite being the 43rd largest bank in the country.

3. Collaborate with speed around a 360-degree view of the customer.

Once the borrower's data was submitted, the bank’s employees sprang into action. Critical steps in the loan process, from identity verification and credit check to underwriting, required multiple teams to view, share, and process data.

With an influx of 20,000 applications in the first three days, loan officers were able to collaborate more efficiently using a single view of the borrower.

By the end, Zions Bank had processed over 47,000 totaling over $7 billion. With volume over 14,000 loans processed from new clients, it was crucial to be able to quickly intake and manage new information.

4. Deliver a transparent lending experience and service customers from anywhere, virtually.

Two-way communication was critical for anxious borrowers who often had questions and were eager to track the status of their loans.

Zions’ web portal let customers track the entire loan application process to provide much needed client visibility and transparency. The Paycheck Protection Program portal was able to build customer trust by:

  • Facilitating conversations between borrowers and loan officers
  • Providing resources and information to answer common questions
  • Keeping customers informed of loan application status
  • Simplifying the loan forgiveness process
“We’re not a national bank. We don’t look at serving the entire country — we look at serving the communities we’re in. The lifeblood of that is being able to deliver value in those communities.”
Jesse Ronnow
SVP & Director of Digital Marketing

5. Quantify results and provide visibility to leadership.

With ample data at its disposal, Zions Bancorporation could measure the effectiveness of its loan program by tracking information like application volume, completion rate, and the number of new accounts. Easy-to-use dashboards allowed leaders to see the data and results in real time.
That data inspired confidence among leaders that its digital team could build such an effective solution in such a short time. With the trust of leadership, Jesse and his team have earned greater autonomy and support for future innovation.

More Resources



A New Hybrid for Digital Lending: Accelerating Loan Cycles with OnDeck


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