Online Loan Abandonment Data Reveals High Stakes in Meeting Member Needs

Online loan abandonment rates represent a lost opportunity for credit unions striving to meet the needs of their online members. How do these experiences impact the member relationship with the credit union, and what can credit unions do to improve them?


Online members who failed to complete their online loan applications due to questions or problems are less likely to use this application channel in the future, according to a recent survey conducted by the Callahan & Associates Survey Consortium.

Overall, 40 percent of online members reported either completing or attempting to complete an online loan application. More than one-fifth of those who tried using an online loan application did not complete it. Although some of these applications were likely to have been made eventually via other channels, it does represent a significant lost opportunity for credit unions looking to retain their online members and steer members to more efficient channels.

Members who had successfully completed an online loan application were about twice as likely to use an online loan application in the future (see graph). However, members who had tried but abandoned an online loan application are more reluctant to try one in the future than even the non-user group. This emphasizes the importance of meeting members' needs on the first attempt.

As one member explained the barriers, "There was no example of what I would be filling out. No explanation of the process in advance. How do you ask questions? What info are you looking for? I may not have all of it available, so it might require multiple sessions."

Simple Solutions Exist for Improving Online Loan Applications

Most reasons members give for abandoning their applications could easily be addressed by enhancing the online information areas or by streamlining the loan application itself. Credit unions should provide options for answering questions upfront via tools such as links to loan educational content, a Frequently Asked Questions page, or an online chat. Other improvements include making the loan application more straightforward by eliminating unnecessary questions, incorporating clearer wording, or providing definitions.

The key is making the information as accessible to the member as possible, providing links and information that the member can access while completing the loan application. Any time that the member must leave the loan application increases the likelihood that the member will give up and turn to a more costly service channel, as well as potentially damaging the member relationship.

For more details on this survey and information on how credit unions can join the Survey Consortium group, please call Denise Senecal at (800) 446-7453 or visit

This independent Callahan research is sponsored by:



This sponsored content article is provided to the credit union community for shared insights and knowledge from a recognized solutions provider in the industry. Please note that the views and opinions offered here do not reflect those of Callahan & Associates, and Callahan does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer.

If you are interested in contributing an article on, please contact our Callahan Media team at or 1-800-446-7453.


Sept. 13, 2004


  • What the article doesn’t address is the impact caused by many online customers that are merely shopping and only start an application to see what is available or to research rates without actually completing the application.
  • CUs should look at the opportunity to enhance both their membership as well as loan application process into a seemless, unified process that is in real time allowing members to even go as far as funding the account according to their business rules. This would eliminate any re-keying on the Credit Union end cutting operating cost as well as taking the information and storing it in an admin tool for audit and compliance purposes. Credit unions could also use the admin tool to re contact all of the incoplete application that were submitted partially done and creating another marketing tool for credit unions to get other products in front of new and existing members.
  • We can completely validate your findings. Prior to using your sponsors’ (LoansPQ) lending platform we encountered many of these same challenges. We now offer our members a very slick, interactive lending channel that gets them in & out with a decision in under 2minutes without compromising essential lending information. We have received very high marks from them as a result! These days the internet makes it all about: ease, convenience, and “Instant Gratification.”
  • I am searching for a possible industry average for the % of internet applications that receive instant approvals but never make it to the closing table due to inaction on the applicant's part. Is there any info you can provide?