Debt problems are a common struggle among people in many different countries. Perhaps they’re not earning enough, perhaps they’re spending too much, or perhaps they’re simply in an old-fashioned and ever-deepening debt rut. This is completely normal, even for countries with a high GDP.
As strange as it might sound, Norwegians, despite their high GDP, also struggle with repaying their loans. According to a recent survey, half of the Norwegian population report having financial problems of varying degrees, ranging from a little to quite a lot. Sixty percent are worried about their finances, and one out of ten is experiencing critical problems right now.
Private companies to the rescue
One of the most pervasive problems with traditional banks, when it comes to helping people out of debt, is that they often don’t really have the time or the interest to do the work that a workable solution requires – and even if they did, you’d get only one perspective anyhow (from the bank you’re consulting). Given this vacuum of reliable and extensive debt support, the last few years have brought a flurry of private companies that specialize in helping with cases like these.
Meet Laan for deg
One example of such companies is Laan for deg, a financial company that operates in Norway, where we have spoken to Ingvild Aagre, their web editor. According to Ingvild, Laan for deg exclusively helps people online by the use of effective processes and systems, as well as a large network of banks that enable them to give clients the debt resolution offers that are most suitable to their situation.
The process goes like this:
- The customer fills in an application on one of Laan for deg’s webpages, depending on what sort of debt issue they have. Separating applications based on where a client is in a debt process (for example before a debt collection case is created “laan uten inkasso” and after “laan med inkasso” in Laan for deg’s situation), Aagre says is key to get the client to the right financial advisor the fastest.
- On the application they describe their debt issues and what they wish to get help with. The goal is often to gather several small loans into one that’s more manageable, and hopefully with a lower interest rate
- Laan for deg sends the application to up to 20 different banks
- If the customer’s application is accepted, they will receive offers from some of the banks
- The customer may then choose the offer with the best terms
This process brings no cost to the customer, as Laan for deg gets a commission from the bank that gets the client.
5 takeaways you can apply for your own business
The solution that this Norwegian fintech company deploys has proven quite effective, and there’s a lot more that goes into it than just the application process. Ingvild is clear about the fact that the general principles by which Laan for deg operates, may be applied to any online business. Here are 5 takeaways she shares.
1. Most things can be solved online
Given that such a complicated problem as debt may be solved over the internet or the phone, without meeting in person, this also holds true for most other problems. Only your imagination can stop you from seeing where there is a vacuum in the marketplace; a need that’s just waiting to be met – either at all, or in a more effective way than it’s being met today.
2. Customers expect quick response
When you click the chat box on a website and send a message, how long will you wait to receive an answer? That’s right – usually 5-10 minutes tops. Ingvild says that their financial advisors try, within 5 minutes, to answer clients who reach out, and that this is crucial for getting happy customers, as well as for getting them first (before they go somewhere else to receive a quicker answer).
3. Use technology to your advantage
To some business owners, change is scary. Believe it or not, this stems from an instinct that humans have had for millennia. In the distant past, thousands of years would often pass before cavemen progressed from using stones as a tool, to using stones on a stick as a tool (that’s just one example). These days, a wild multiplicity of tools are created every day, but we still have pretty much the same caveman brains.
The point is that it is those who can successfully override this fear instinct when it comes to technology are the ones who will be able to use new tools to their advantage. In today’s world, this might include digital marketing, online work meetings, artificial intelligence, and simply new apps and programs that make basic processes more effective.
4. Focus on genuinely helping customers
If you’ve ever tried getting help for some technical problem, you’ll know that the assistance you get varies a lot. Some customer support agents only want to fix another problem quickly so they can get to the next one; others take the time to actually and graciously solve their current customer’s problem.
Helping people with such a serious issue as debt has taught Laan for deg that when it comes to customer service, there really is no other choice than to do it as professionally as possible. And this really goes for any industry. By focusing on genuinely helping customers, being specific with the instructions, and courteous in the process, your business will be more likely to get good reviews.
5. Your website matters
Ingvild says that, at Laan for deg, they believe creating an intuitive and easy-to-navigate website should be the top priority for any online website. By doing so, they ensure that customers aren’t lost in a digital jungle. The road to their solution should be straight as a line, and obvious from the moment they land on your website.
In this article, we have featured some of the best business lessons from a European company that resolves debt problems online. At the end of our interview, Ingvild Aagre concluded that if she was to pick one principle that encompasses all the above lessons, it would be to have an obsessive customer focus: to place the customer first in every step of the process – from the business idea to the website to the long-term strategy of the company.