This episode is part of a special 'Tech Talk' series of bitesize interviews on key talking points within vending technology.
In this episode, we take a look at building operational efficiency with Dancerace CEO, Elliot Avison. In our short discussion, we explore what banks and lenders can do with software to optimise their everyday operations. We hope you find it interesting!
Callum Dunbar, Dancerace: Elliot, thanks for joining me. We're talking about operational efficiency today. It's something that seems to be on every lenders’ lips at the moment. Why?
Elliot Avison, Dancerace: It’s a difficult one; I think the pandemic has certainly been a major driver. But I think we were getting there beforehand, but the pandemic definitely accelerated the shift.
In general, our marketplace is moving away from really hands-on processing of information or processing of products and services, and its services are getting more digital. Now, you can go on your iPad and order a movie, or you can go and get food by clicking a few buttons on your phone, and the business world is spending a lot of time catching up.
Actually, the driver for businesses may not be operational efficiency itself. Instead, it might actually be modernization. Branding, and the perception of being a more straightforward lender is definitely appealing for businesses.
But then there’s the darker answer to your original question, which is that, obviously businesses have been impacted quite severely by the financial impact of the pandemic. And they are protecting themselves. They're trying to streamline processes, improve profitability, look at how they can be more responsive and reactive – that’s encouraging them to consider operational efficiency more and more. If you look at the situation we had last year, where all those business loans were being issued, there was a huge opportunity when all those businesses were looking for help that will surely come around again, should we enter a new pandemic, or when the amounts become due for those original loans and they may need further support.
I think that situation shocked the marketplace into realising how slow and how potentially hands-on and manual things were. And then there was the remote working. We're doing things more online and digitally than ever before, out of necessity rather than want. You can speak to your customers on either side of the world from your living room, and do business. When you look at your systems, and you realise you relied on the printer in the back of the office, or you relied on emailing or physically visiting customers to get information from their accounting system, all of this stuff seems either impossible, or barking mad now
I think there are a lot of reasons for the focus on efficiency, which is a goods thing. From a software perspective, this is playing directly into someone like my hands, because I love optimization!
CD: Well, let's lean into that, then. You spend a lot of time talking to lenders of different sizes about optimization; when you're having those discussions, what are the areas of their systems you're talking about?
EA: So probably six key areas.
Obviously, onboarding has been an area that we’ve focused very heavily on as a business for the last couple of years.
Then, for the very reasons I just described, everyday processing of ledgers and payments, but particularly the ledger and customer information that has been notoriously difficult to handle for many years.
Payment processing is something a lot of people were looking at, pre-pandemic, but is again a really, really key one and very simple to optimise.
Task management; making sure that the things you're doing in your systems are really exception-based rather than needing to do everything manually.
Information Management; allowing a system to actually aggregate information into structured dashboards or reports that are useful for your business rather than forcing you to wade through tonnes of data.
Then, intelligent data processing; allowing the system to do things for you so you can work with exceptions and use the power of the platform rather than relying on humans to do everything.
Those are probably the six main areas.
CD: Brilliant. This is your chance to fly the flag for the Dancerace operating system. When you've spoken to lenders and they've made the changes in those areas, what kind of results have they seen in terms of operational efficiency?
EA: Sure. These are some really key things that we measure our own success on.
With onboarding, we've seen two thirds less time spent on onboarding. For payment processing, over a number of clients over a number of years, we've seen up to 80%, less time spent handling manual payments, which is very significant for some of our larger lenders.
75% less time when using our data extraction products, by allowing the customers and the ledger details to flow through systems every 20 minutes, every hour, every day, touchlessly. Lenders don't have to process borrowers as long as they fall within the boundaries of their thresholds.
When using our products, the client manager to client ratio is one of the key areas we measure. We've seen that go from one client manager to roughly 24 clients, to one manager to 37 clients, which is see quite a significant jump. And that's coming from both our shadow products and the use of data extraction, as these require a lot less manual processing and chasing of customers, and client managers can be more efficient.
CD: Those seem like significant changes that represent a chance to really change the culture within lenders, by allowing them to focus on building relationships, as opposed to everyday processing.
EA: Absolutely. And that's what I'm hearing. You know, in one of our other podcasts about borrower experience, we’ve said that borrowers want that – to have subject matter experts on-hand, and for lenders to be contacting them about value-added services.
Lenders don't want to spend their entire time explaining information or going through things manually. But the same can be said for client managers; their experiences shouldn't be focused on how quickly can they do a manual task. It should be on how much more value in revenue can they generate for the lender. That directly benefits the lender, but it also benefits the borrower.
So, I see these things as being win-wins for everyone involved. And hopefully, they will mean that the profitability of our lenders will improve, which means that they can lend more money and help more businesses, which is, again, a good thing.
CD: I think so too. Thank you very much for your time,
EA: No problem at all. Thanks.
Edited for clarity.