How Windmill Microlending more than doubled their number of loan applications

Company

Windmill Microlending is a loan provider offering immigrants in Canada low-interest loans to cover the education and certification processes needed to return to their original professions. Additionally, they provide coaching and mentorship to help immigrants integrate into Canadian society.

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Challenge

• High drop-off rates due to clunky, intimidating application form/lead qualification funnel with many steps

• Time-consuming process: the creation of the lead qualification funnel they needed took several months to be developed

• Lack of flexibility: adjustments to the lead qualification funnel required a lot of additional dev work

• High investment: developing a multi-step lead qualification form costed them tens of thousands of dollars

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Solution

Creating the multi-step application form/lead qualification funnel with Heyflow, which allows to optimize the amount of steps needed and offers the flexibility to easily adjust the funnel based on updates, making the application smoother, providing a better UX and making it easier for clients to apply for a loan.

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Impact

• Drop-off rate improvement of 37% (from 90% to 44%)

• More than 2x number of applications

• Time to set up lead qualification funnel reduced from several months to one afternoon

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Helping people make new beginnings

Moving to a new country is hard. It involves finding housing, securing a job, establishing a new social network, learning the local language (or mastering it for professional use) and navigating legal and bureaucratic challenges. And as if all of this weren’t hard enough, an additional hurdle is getting your qualification recognized, as many Western countries do not accept university degrees from certain regions. For example, if you were a practicing lawyer or surgeon in your home country, it's highly unlikely you can resume your profession shortly after moving to the US, Canada or the UK.

When people move to Canada, they often underestimate the numerous barriers to resuming their careers, including the substantial financial costs. Becoming a practicing dentist in Canada, for instance, can cost tens of thousands of dollars, which most newcomers don't have upon arrival. To support themselves and often their families, many take on so-called survival jobs that they can start immediately. You've likely encountered this: the Uber driver who was a doctor in their home country or the waiter who is actually an engineer. These jobs leave little time for studying for required certifications and exams, trapping individuals in a vicious cycle of lacking money, time, and energy.

Enter Windmill Microlending. Windmill is not your typical loan provider. In addition to offering low-interest loans to new Canadians, they also provide support that goes way beyond that. Rowan, the Associate Director of Data and Systems, explains: “We offer a lot more than just money. We actually offer coaching and mentorship to the client to help them integrate into Canada and assist them in getting back into their profession.” Windmill Microlending understands the hurdles of starting from scratch in a new country, as well as the missed opportunity that this waste of talent means for society. Therefore, they have made it their mission to turn potential into prosperity. 

Tackling loan application challenges 

Windmill Microlending offers very favorable interest rates to immigrants in Canada. These new Canadians benefit greatly from these low rates, as many of them lack the savings or credit history needed to apply for traditional loans upon arrival. However, despite offering much more favorable conditions than many of their competitors, beating the competition is still quite challenging, Rowan points out: “Because we're a nonprofit, we have a few more hoops to jump through. We are partly funded by the government, so there's a lot of data we need to capture for them. Our application process is a bit more cumbersome than those of other loan companies.”

This is a key issue: the application process of other loan companies is shorter. Some can get you approved in 10 minutes, with the money available the next day. Additionally, their application forms look very visually appealing, Rowan noticed. It’s no surprise that users felt intimidated when they landed on Windmill’s application funnel on the website, especially when compared to the streamlined processes of competing loan companies. “It was based on an application online management software that looks like it's Windows 98. So it’s not the most elegant solution, and that doesn't build trust with a client.” 

Furthermore, Rowan and his team have to ask for many documents upfront, some of which are extremely sensitive, and with their old solution, there was no way to structure the application form as they wanted. “We saw a huge drop-off rate from our application start page because people were just overwhelmed,” Rowan remembers. In comparison, the process of other loan companies was much easier to navigate and therefore more attractive.

From dull and clunky to flexible and dynamic

The main issue Windmill faced with their old loan management solution was its lack of flexibility. While adjustments were possible, they required a significant investment and extensive back-and-forth with developers, taking six months to a year to build the first version of Windmill’s application.

Rowan and his team realized they needed a more dynamic solution. They were adding new products, changing terms, and wanted to include features like a loan calculator. None of this was feasible with their current loan management software.

We needed to be dynamic, flexible and agile to address our ever changing needs.

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Rowan Dence

Associate Director of Data and Systems

Windmill Microlending

So they started searching for a platform that could handle all these changes. They’ve been testing numerous form creation tools for six months, but none of them met their needs – it was frustrating. Until one day they discovered Heyflow. “What we were really struggling with was the ability to create forms that outputted information and integrated with other systems the way that Heyflow does,” Rowan remembers. “And then one day, we found Heyflow, and I remember vividly this light bulb moment. ‘My God, we found the right solution!’. It was a good day.”

In Heyflow, they finally found a solution that offered the flexibility they needed, an elegant design, and all the required technical features. They could customize their application funnel in minutes, creating a sleek and attractive design. With the integrated A/B split testing feature, they can test different versions of an application form or eligibility quiz against each other, identify the best performer, and thereby boost their lead conversion rate even further.

Another critical feature, which they couldn't find in any other form builder, was the ability for website visitors to upload multiple documents at once. “One of the key features other form builders struggled with was the document upload function. We need about 12 documents per application. Most platforms only allow one document at a time, but Heyflow enables multiple documents per attachment and handles it with ease.” The search for a suitable form builder finally came to an end.

Automations and tracking

Something else Rowan and his team liked about Heyflow, is how easily it integrated into their existing tool stack. They could send responses from their application form directly into HubSpot and Google Sheets, thanks to the native integrations. “Once it's in Google Sheets, we could actually integrate it with our BI platform as well. The flexibility that the out-of-the-box solution provided to us was enormous,” Rowan recalls. Additionally, the Zapier integration allowed them to connect Heyflow to all other necessary platforms. 

Windmill also appreciated that Heyflow enabled them to track the referral partners their clients came from. Rowan embeds code into the header of his Heyflow, which allows him to track end-to-end users based on referral links. If someone uses one of these referral links, Rowan and his team can identify exactly which referral partner they came from.

Saving time and budget, while doubling applications

Switching to Heyflow has paid off for Windmill Microlending in multiple ways. For one thing, they improved their drop-off rate from 70% to 44% – a clear indication that loan applicants found the new eligibility quiz smoother and the user experience much more enjoyable. However, where the switch has particularly benefited Rowan and his team is in terms of time saved and cost-efficiency.

We paid $20,000 CAD to someone in the past to create an eligibility quiz for us, and it took four to five months to create it. We made it in one afternoon with Heyflow.

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Rowan Dence

Associate Director of Data and Systems

Windmill Microlending

“That's when we got excited about the potential of what Heyflow could do for us,” Rowan remembers. 

And how did the new eligibility quiz turn out in terms of applications and new clients? “We actually doubled our number of applications last year, so we were extremely happy with the results of the new flow, as well as the visibility of who's coming through our pipeline and going through the client journey. We attribute a good chunk of that to Heyflow.”

In conclusion, the switch to Heyflow helped Windmill not only save costs, time and energy, but also shift their brand image towards a modern organization with an elegant design and user-friendly website experience, and being able to compete against bigger loan companies. Moreover, this change has made it easier for new Canadians to apply for low-interest loans and get the support they need to start their new lives in Canada without resorting to survival jobs to make ends meet. It's a win-win situation, benefiting both Windmill and their clients, who can now focus on their new beginnings.