Financial Services

Citizens Bank achieves 40% faster student loan application pull-through

The Challenge

Effective communication is the cornerstone of delivering a great customer experience, but today’s millennial generation has forced financial institutions like Citizens Bank to toss their former communication strategy book aside and get creative in order to reach this massive group of consumers.

The Citizens Bank Student Loan business had a historically high applicant drop-off rate due to a lengthy, multi-step application process. This pool of largely millennial applicants seldom responded to phone calls and emails, and Citizens was spending excessive time, resources and money attempting to pull applicants through critical steps in the process.

The longer it took to reach student loan applicants, the slower it was to gather the information Citizens needed to underwrite and approve the loan. So Citizens was looking to not only prevent applicants from dropping off in the middle of the application process, but they also needed a way to guide applicants through the process faster.

These customers, I think just like all millennials, respond to quick sound bites, so we had to tailor our communications for them.
Mary K. Fiorille, Head of Partnership Lending, Citizens Bank

The Solution

Citizens was introduced to Relay at just the right time. Quickly approaching peak student loan application season, the bank needed a solution within 6 weeks of meeting Relay to more effectively notify applicants and re-engage those who had fallen out of the process.

Together, Relay and Citizens launched Citizens Bank Wire®: a secure, web-based customer feed with no app or download required. With the time crunch in mind, the feed was built to drive rapid and significant mobile adoption and engagement with Citizens customers. When a customer fills out a loan application, Relay captures their mobile number and instantly establishes a digital, one-to-one connection.

The Citizens customer feed then serves up a persistent stream of actionable messages designed to pull applicants through the loan application process with less effort. Not only do applicants benefit from a simpler, easier loan completion process, Citizens drastically reduces the effort previously required to reach these customers, get the loans underwritten and then approved.

Relay not only increases the effectiveness of our communications, it also directly affects revenue by cutting down turnaround time in the underwriting process and increasing pull-through rates. It’s extremely impactful to our customer experience.
Mary K. Fiorille, Head of Partnership Lending, Citizens Bank

The Results

The solution was launched in just 30 days so that the bank could take advantage of the surge in student loan activity from July to September. In the following months, Citizens saw a dramatic difference in the utilization rates.


Engagement With Customer Feed


Increase in Completed Loans


Reduction in Completion Time


Applicants Receiving Messages
Relay always comes to the table thinking about how a solution is relevant to my customer and my set of products.
Mary K. Fiorille, Head of Partnership Lending, Citizens Bank

What's Next

Citizens quickly realized that the successful methodology of the student loan application program could be easily replicated to solve customer engagement problems across other areas of the business. Relay showed Citizens that the customer feed is not just a one-point solution. It’s an end-to-end customer management tool that establishes a strong, digital foundation with customers that drives loyalty, growth and customer lifetime value.

Looking to increase application pull-through or engagement during onboarding for your business? Reach out to us for a demo.