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First State Bank of St. Charles maximizes value through Blend

Learn how additional training resulted in a 98% adoption of Blend’s Mortgage Suite from FSB Loan Officers and Processors.

In the competitive landscape of mortgage banking, delivering exceptional experiences to borrowers while simultaneously optimizing operational efficiency is paramount. Executives across the mortgage industry understand the importance of partnering with technology providers to simplify and streamline workflows for their lending teams, but many don’t prioritize the ongoing training and support their teams need to fully utilize the platforms that have been implemented.

For First State Bank of St. Charles (FSB), partnering with Blend’s Customer Enablement Team to enable their mortgage team with the right tools and knowledge has been instrumental in driving business value, boosting customer success, and maintaining a competitive advantage.

Blend’s robust Customer Enablement Program sets us apart from our competitors by focusing on user success, seamless platform adoption, and ongoing support. Our enablement sessions also give us the opportunity to gather valuable feedback that can drive product development based on actual customer needs.

Customer Spotlight: First State Bank of St. Charles

First State Bank of St. Charles’ journey with enablement sessions showcases the transformative impact it can have on organizational success.

Despite facing challenges such as the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and a subsequent shift to remote work, FSB remained committed to driving adoption and maximizing the full potential of Blend after becoming a customer in February 2020. By offering online training sessions, Blend was able to ensure continuity in their enablement efforts.

Prior to these sessions, many loan officers viewed Blend merely as an application tool for gathering borrower information. Even with Blend’s LO Toolkit at their disposal, some loan officers didn’t understand how to take advantage of it and continued to push applications to their loan origination system, Encompass.

After the pandemic, hosting enablement sessions for end users in-person in Kansas City and St. Louis proved to be pivotal. With a total of 70-75 loan officers and processors in attendance, the sessions were focused on Blend’s LO Toolkit, LO Mobile, and the Agent App. These sessions provided hands-on training, a format that resonated deeply with the team. The interactive training sessions provided a conducive environment for learning, enabling the team to more effectively explore Blend’s functionalities and ask questions. As a result, they discovered untapped features and realized the full extent of Blend’s functionality beyond basic application processing.

Jody Adray, Vice President of Mortgage Information Systems at First State Bank, recalls: “The transition to in-person training was pivotal for us. It allowed our team to delve deeper into Blend’s capabilities and truly grasp how much more efficient we could be. The hands-on experience facilitated a level of understanding and engagement that simply wasn’t possible with remote training.”

The commitment to ongoing enablement didn’t stop there. First State Bank recognized the importance of regular refreshers and updates, and Blend made plans to conduct training sessions 2-3 times a year for admins and end users alike. Loan officers began to adjust settings based on feedback, leading to a more tailored and efficient workflow. Notably, First State Bank made the decision to turn off Consumer Connect. Now, 98 percent of applications come through Blend, a testament to its central role in First State Bank’s operations.

In addition, Blend’s consistent customer support stood out for First State Bank. Compared to other platforms, Blend’s support system proved invaluable, providing guidance and assistance every step of the way. Looking ahead, First State Bank’s plans to prioritize regular training sessions to ensure continued optimization of Blend’s features and configurations.

FSB’s journey exemplifies the transformative power of enablement. By investing in their team and partners, they not only maximized the value of their platform but also strengthened relationships, improved customer experiences, and gained a competitive edge. As businesses navigate the ever-evolving digital landscape, prioritizing enablement will continue to be key to long-term success.

Why Enablement Matters

Enablement isn’t just about training; it’s about empowering individuals and organizations to leverage the Blend platform to its fullest potential. The Customer Enablement team at Blend offers onsite and virtual training opportunities to ensure Loan Officers, Processors, Analysts, and other mortgage professionals know the latest functionality of the Blend Mortgage Suite and feel confident with the technology. Enablement sessions have proven to be a catalyst for:

1. Driving Business Value

  • Faster ROI: Equipped lenders see value quicker, leading to improved return on investment. Blend’s Mortgage Suite eliminates an average of 8 days from the overall loan cycle time – from processing to closing – resulting in $914 in average cost savings per loan, according to a 2023 impact analysis conducted by MarketWise Advisors.
  • Increased Feature Utilization: Understanding the Blend platform’s full potential enables lenders to leverage industry-changing features, reducing workload and enhancing borrower experience.
  • Reduced Support Tickets: Efficient onboarding and training minimize reliance on ongoing support, allowing for organic scalability.

2. Boosting Customer Success

  • Smoother User Experience: Effective enablement reduces frustration and confusion, leading to a more positive journey for end users.
  • Stronger Partnerships: Empowering partners with product knowledge fosters stronger collaborations and mutual success.

Ready to schedule an enablement session for your team? Reach out to your Blend Customer Success Manager for next steps.

Union Bank & Trust implements omnichannel onboarding with Blend

Learn how Blend helped UBT elevate and accelerate its new account opening process.

Key Takeaways

  • Pain points: Disjointed online and in-branch experiences, difficulty authenticating existing customers during the account opening process
  • Solution: Blend’s omnichannel solution powers a smooth, consistent experience across origination channels, while accelerating onboarding, optimizing account conversion, and giving bankers time back to focus on deepening customer relationships
  • Impact: After implementing Blend, UBT was able to streamline its account opening experience to be under 5 minutes

Union Bank & Trust (UBT) is a privately owned bank based in Nebraska that offers complete banking, lending, investment, and trust services. The bank has 34 full-service and loan production offices in Nebraska and Kansas. UBT has grown steadily from a small bank into a mid-sized bank experiencing considerable growth just within recent years.

As UBT experienced this growth and developed plans for future growth, the UBT team identified a need to synchronize its digital and branch customer onboarding and account opening processes all within one platform. This realization led UBT to partner with Blend to elevate its digital onboarding customer experience and process that started within its mortgage area, expanded to its retail deposit digital account opening process, and is now synchronized and being rolled out in the branch environment.

Jason McCown, Business Relationship Manager, Retail at UBT, recounts the journey that began in 2019 when Blend was first implemented on the mortgage side. “We partnered with Blend just before the chaos of 2020. And I’m certain that we would not have had the record year that we did on the mortgage side without them,” said McCown. “We were only able to process the number of applications that we did because of Blend’s mortgage solution.”

The success of Blend in streamlining mortgage applications paved the way for its expansion into other areas of banking, including deposits. McCown, who oversees business relationships and retail solutions at UBT, was instrumental in championing Blend’s adoption across various banking functions.

Challenge: Create a fast, seamless, consistent account opening experience across all channels

Before implementing Blend, one of the primary obstacles UBT faced was the process of account opening for existing customers.

“It was fairly clumsy to authenticate existing customers. Our customer support group used to get several calls from customers who had started the application online, but had questions and weren’t able to finish. The customer would go in-branch seeking assistance to finish the application, and more times than not, the customer would have to start the application over completely.”

The other focus area was speed.

“From the very beginning, our executives wanted us to target a five-minute account opening process that became our North Star,” said McCown. “We wanted to be able to offer a simple, efficient onboarding experience, and that was what drove our evaluation as we considered providers.”

“From the very beginning, our executives wanted us to target a five-minute account opening process that became our North Star. We wanted to be able to offer a simple, efficient onboarding experience, and that was what drove our evaluation as we considered providers.”
Jason McCown
Business Relationship Manager, Retail, UBT

Solution: Adopt an omnichannel solution to streamline onboarding

Blend emerged as the ideal partner due to its proven track record on the mortgage side and commitment to enhancing the customer experience. The UBT team was particularly impressed by Blend’s omnichannel capabilities.

“A lot of our customers are college students who are trying to open a new account. They usually start the application online, and then realize they have questions and get stuck. Then they’ll come visit us in-branch to finish out the application. It was really important to us to be able to offer the omni-channel experience so that we could assist them,” said McCown.

Blend’s deposit solution enables UBT to provide for a fast and consistent onboarding experience across every channel because the unified platform synchronizes the process and collection of customer information. A customer can now complete the process seamlessly or pick up where they left off should they desire the assistance of UBT personnel in-branch.

Outcome: UBT increased digital account openings

According to McCown, since implementing Blend, UBT has been able to consistently hit a three-and-a-half-minute account opening time and has seen a substantial increase in digital account openings.

“After launching our new account opening experience, we felt more confident in increasing our marketing efforts to drive more potential and current customers to our digital account onboarding experience,” said McCown. “The result is that we have had significant increases in processing more applications and successfully opening more accounts online.”

Looking ahead, UBT envisions a holistic user experience across all banking products, both online and in-branch, with plans to adopt other Blend solutions, including instant HELOCs and consumer loans.

“The incredible thing about Blend is that you only need one product. And then our bankers only need to learn how to use that one product to do deposits, consumer loans, HELOCs and more.”
Jason McCown
Business Relationship Manager, Retail, UBT

“The incredible thing about Blend is that you only need one product. And then our bankers only need to learn how to use that one product to do deposits, consumer loans, HELOCs and more,” said McCown. “It saves us an enormous amount of training time since we’re not working on multiple systems. And there is a lot of excitement and satisfaction being expressed by our in-house customer service teams now that they are able to offer the same, consistent, amazing experience for our retail products.”

The recent extension of the partnership to a three-year agreement reflects UBT’s confidence in Blend’s ability to support its long-term strategic goals. By embracing digital innovation, UBT has transformed its ease of service throughout the bank and will always continue to set the bar high in delivering a superior customer experience.