Sunbit chief customer officer looks to enhance the ‘buy now, pay later’ experience

360 Magazine

Interview featuring Bill Walsh, Chief Customer Officer

When it comes time for customers to pay for their purchases, the usual choices are debit or credit. Bill Walsh has joined the ranks of those hoping ‘Sunbit’ will soon become a natural addition to that list.

Based in Los Angeles, Sunbit offers technology to help facilitate what’s known as Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) transactions between merchants and consumers. Rather than filling out a complex credit card or financing application, for example, its platform performs a soft credit check that allows it to approve approximately 90 per cent of applicants.

Sunbit can then offer funding that ranges from $60 to $8,000. Unlike other BNPL firms such as Klarna Bank and Afterpay Ltd that focus on luxury purchases like clothes, however, Sunbit has grown amid merchants such as car repair firms, opticians and dentists.

Last month Walsh, former general manager for Personal Loans and Membership division at LendingClub, was appointed Sunbit’s first chief customer officer since it launched in 2016.

The urgency around those everyday needs means that any hurdles to financing can be “embarrassing or cumbersome or painful,” said Walsh, who became familiar with Sunbit through its executive team several years ago. “The difference between where the incumbent solutions are and Sunbit is truly night and day.”

Walsh admitted he comes to the chief customer officer role via an unusual background.  A self-described engineer at heart who studied computer science, he offered technical consulting for 10 years before taking on a variety of operational roles. Lending Club, he said, was transformative in how he learned about the importance of CX.

“I saw how delivering good CX isn’t just rewarding, the right thing to do, but a real differentiator that actively was driving the KPIs of the business,” Walsh told 360 Magazine. “My focus at Sunbit will really be about building the relationship with customers so that it becomes  the preferred way to pay for everyday needs and services, and even extend that.”

This not only includes consumers who use Sunbit, but also the more than 7,000 merchants who offer Sunbit as part of their own customer experience. And then within that latter category, there are associates who work on the front lines offering and facilitating the use of Sunbit. In some cases associates are also Sunbit customers themselves, Walsh said.

“I came from an environment where one of the big things was about building the data and technology for the customer journey and having the infrastructure to see all those connections and to understand how to engineer a frictionless, thoughtful customer experience to build continuity,” he said. “At Sunbit that’s even more complicated because of the three audiences.”

Some elements of the journey are well-understood by now, of course, such as the fact that applying to Sunbit needs to be fast and easy. From there, however, Walsh said he is interested in better understanding how to treat customers well.

Doing so makes them more likely to repay their loans, and to become a returning customer. Even more importantly, it could drive referrals, which Sunbit actively encourages at both the costumer and merchant level.

As for metrics, Sunbit already enjoys an 81-point Net Promoter Score (NPS), but Walsh said he’s also interested in customer satisfaction and, given its audience, first contact resolution. He pointed to Virgin Hotels big red “Yes!” button that replaced the usual six or seven that are known within the hospitality sector.

“It’s about not erecting barriers that get between you and I,” he said. “That service ethos is what I aspire to here.”

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