Monday through Friday, nine to five, may not be convenient hours for your customers. This was clearly the case at Granite State Credit Union, in Manchester, N.H., where the majority of auto-loan customers shopped for cars during the evening, after the office was closed. Customers were forced to wait until the next day to get information on rates and book values, or to apply for a loan.

To address the situation, Granite State extended its lending hours by giving a cellular phone to one loan officer each evening. Customers can call the extended-hours lending line until 11 p.m. to obtain information or submit an application. "Customers love the fact that they can get the loan services they want, when they need them," says Michele Duhamel, Granite State's compliance manager. Applications received during the evening are reviewed first thing the next morning.

Convenient access to services is important to customers. Duhamel notes that ATMs have made most banking services available when customers need them, but auto-loan services haven't been as accessible. Extending lending hours via the phone is Granite State's way of matching hours of operation with customer needs.

Copyright 1997 G&J USA Publishing