Improving the merchant's experience for managing loan applications
Indicina provides a lending as a service platform that allows business of all sizes use our solutions for credit to their customers.
The credit infrastructure comes equipped with the features businesses need to offer credit to their customers from creditmodels, risk assessments, decision making loan origination, loan portfolio management, and decision making.
Our merchant portal is used by our merchants to track loan applications, automate loan approval processes and perform actions like disbursements, request for new documents etc. Overtime, the merchant portal became tedious to extend to include new features that we were creating. Also, the information architecture had become confusing for the merchants as they could not understand the next line of actions for certain features, too many information on one screen and what certain actions/titles meant.
Product Design Lead, Research, Interface Design
Ajayi Damilola - Product Design
Adedayo Moshood - Frontend Engineer
Bello Oladipupo - Backend Engineer
We looked through our existing merchant portal and looked through the screen recordings of Hotjar sessions to pick out the pain points of the merchants.
We also set up interviews with some of our merchants and also looked through a list of our merchants' requests with the help of the Customer Success team to properly evaluate the needs of the merchants.
- How are you finding the current merchant portal?
- What are some of the friction you have experienced with the current merchant portal?
- How has 'feature x' been effective for you so far?
- What will you like to be able to do on the merchant portal that is not currently existing?
- How can we improve the experience for the existing features of the customer portal?
After careful evaluation, we came up with these objectives for the newly refined merchant portal.
- A simpler UX flow for the portal.
- Better Information Architecture for the portal
- The merchant portal will provide better day to day reporting and analytics for the loan applications on the portal.
- Giving the merchant portal a new look and feel.
- Better Filtering system to allow for quicker search through list of data provided.
Our first steps was to design an improved ux flow to which we shared with the customer success team to help give a second opinion on it. We reiterated the flow until we were convinced it was perfect. This process also took into account the pages / sections that would be renamed. This is because the customer success team pointed out that some of our merchants didn't understand some of the namings on the portal. With the help of the customer success team, the merchants were able to provide better names for some pages/sections based on what they are called within their team. For instance, 'Loan Policy' became 'Loan Products', 'Liquidity Management' became 'Wallets'.
Creating the visual design
Indicina had also just undergone a rebranding. We saw this as a good opportunity to create a design system. This was really eye-opening because even though we were designing for our own brand, we also had to take into account the merchants branding as well. We tested each component against some of our existing merchants' brands before marking as completed. We utilized mostly flat designs, no illustrations or patterns to allow for easy integrations with whatever colors our merchants utilizes.
Some of the notable parts of the designs are:
Analytics and Reporting
Old merchant portal didn't have a dashboard overview page and analytics page and customers wanted more insights into analytics. We introduced a dashboard overview page for short breakdowns of the analytics, and added a secondary page called "Analytics" which was so much more detailed. Our initial iteration of the analytics page, had us adding all the analytics on each of their related pages. Eg. Customer analytics showed on the customer page, application analytics showed on the analytics page. We found a problem with this iteration after sharing with our internal data team. Our current design doesn't take care of one of the user personas for the portals which are the auditors, who will need audit the company's data from time to time. It was therefore important to ensure that most reporting sit on one page to avoid auditors needing to jump from one page to the other. This informed our decision to create a separate analytics page.
user management and access level management
On the old portal design, all existing users with the merchants team had admin access levels and there was no control on typically what each of these users could do or see on the application. We initially created a list of default user types for the merchants and assigned fixed roles to them. After presenting the wireframes to the merchants, some of them noted that they needed more flexibility in user types created and wanted to be able to assign/unassign specific roles to these user types. They also wanted to be able to create their own custom user types based on their needs internally. Using this insight, we created a section for creating, editing and managing user roles in your application.
Merchants inability to manually configure their loans products makes it impossible for them to self-configure themselves on our platform and increases the effort of the team to onboard new merchants and support existing ones. We also wanted to remove the restriction of a default loan product available on the platform. The goal was that customers can set different types of loan products ( i.e. Regular or Graduated Loans ) for their different set of customers, and also set their validity periods.
Microfinance Entities (MFBs & MFIs) typically run structures that involve various approval stages before a decision is made on a loan. Officers with different access levels would most likely interact with a loan application at different stages with each officer having a specific function which forms a workflow. This workflow is solely aimed at mitigating the risk exposure of the loan provider by ensuring all due-diligence is performed. Our merchant portal needed to mimic this workflow in order to provide value to our clients.
We introduced new features that benefited our merchants and helped drive their revenue. It also helped growing our merchant base by over 70% as our sales team sell the new features. Customers found the new nomenclature and flow easier and this helped free up some time for the customer success team. It is still an iterative process where we keep testing new ways to improve the platform.
Adebowale Adebimpe - Copyright 2021