In this instalment of We Give a FAQ we’re talking client needs and innovation with Andrew Bell, the Managing Director of one of our long-term clients Nifty Loans.

A true man of detail, Andy has long had a passion for creating efficient systems and working with others. After growing up in the Queensland countryside, he went on to study Business Management at the University of Queensland and landed a job at a large finance company. Although he went straight from the classroom to the office, Andy didn’t take long to adjust. In his time there he quickly advanced through several roles in loan assessment, collections, marketing, legal compliance, systems development and more. Until finally, at the tender age of twenty-three, he took the plunge and founded his own company: Nifty Loans.

And the rest, as they say, was history.

While Andy’s talents speak volumes through the success of his enterprise, his attention to detail and dedication to his staff stand out particularly strong. He’s worked incredibly hard to get where he is and if anyone knows how to create opportunities, it’s Andy. He’s spent 3 years growing Nifty into a formidable force by listening and responding to his clients. So, we were lucky enough to have the chance to speak to him recently about how he’s grown his business. Here are some of Andy’s thoughts on anticipating client’s needs and finding opportunities to innovate.

Q: What does it mean to anticipate customer needs?

Well, if you’re successfully running your own business, there’s a reason all your customers are coming to your door. Usually, it means you’ve succeeded in solving whatever needs they may have with your product or service. So, what then?

Determining the next problem your customers may face is key to growing and expanding your company in the future. This might mean delivering faster, delivering more or growing your product/service offering. This is anticipating customer needs – knowing what your customers want before they even do. It’s vital because, if you don’t do it, someone else will. It’s not enough to just do well in business. You have to continually fine-tune before you’re wiped out by someone more agile or with deeper pockets.

Q: Why should businesses give a damn about it?

If not to remain competitive, then certainly to stay afloat! You can bet that every one of today’s most successful businesses take steps early and often to meet their clients’ needs. So, you’ve got to stay on top of change if you’re going to survive. See, the reality is, customers are less likely to part ways with the corporations that meet a variety of their needs as opposed to just one. We all have certain expectations of what we want from a product or service. You can go above these expectations when you already have the additional feature or service they want before they even have to ask for it.

Q: What is the difference between anticipating and identifying customer needs?

There isn’t a great deal of difference between either and I have seen both terms used interchangeably when talking about client needs. So, I think it does come down to individual interpretation. Personally, I think the difference arises in the implications of the words themselves. Identifying is the process of establishing who or what your clients need while anticipating is more about prediction. When you’re trying to anticipate what your customers need, you’re trying to work out what they will want before they even know it. You’re not simply looking to identify what they currently need.

Q: Tell us a bit about Nifty. What does your team do?

Nifty aims to help borrowers who are traditionally forgotten or excluded from more traditional forms of credit. This includes the likes of both millennials and baby boomers, who are struggling more and more to get ahead financially. We offer our personal loans from $300 to $5,000 all through an online channel to ensure fast outcomes and efficient service for our clients. It can definitely be a balancing act! Yet, there’s no smoke and mirrors with us, and that transparency is a point of pride for our team. At the end of the day, we just want to ensure our loans are affordable and everyone can receive a fair go at finance.

Q: How have you anticipated the needs of your clients?

My time in a previous financial company opened my eyes to the untapped potential in personal finance. Changing times in the sector had left lenders to become set in their ways and I could see consumers were becoming frustrated. Borrowers may spend hours – even days – waiting to hear the outcome of their loan application from traditional lenders. So, this was the incentive behind building Nifty’s bespoke lending platform. We removed barriers to entry by employing a customer-centric approach to innovation and system improvements. In layman’s terms, that basically means we took the traditional loan application processes and broke them down into many individual parts. Then we automated these parts as much as possible, making our loan process faster as well as easily scalable and cost-efficient.

Q: What’s the number one piece of advice you would give to businesses looking to innovate their practices?

I think it’s important to always go back to whatever problems your product or service solves. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling to consumers or other businesses, making decisions based on solving consumer needs makes it easier to improve the customer experience. A lot of people tend to think that innovation lies in creating new products, but if you effectively anticipate your clients’ needs you can usually build this into your current offering.

Ultimately, there’s almost always going to be some element of what you’re selling which could be improved. Take a good look at what you’re offering and who your clients are. What’s missing? What more could you be giving them? How could you better deliver what you’re offering?

Pretty Damn Good is a Brisbane-based brand marketing agency. Check out our previous We Give a FAQ for advice on branding in the digital age or click here to see how we could take your business to a whole new level.