How Ramp turned product and financial operations into a competitive advantage
Ramp is the fastest-growing corporate card and expense management platform for the mid-market. To scale that quickly, Ramp needed to automate its operations with custom tools.
Ramp, the fastest growing corporate card and expense management platform for the mid-market, has seen firsthand how critical employee-facing tools can be when managing complex financial data, handling security workflows, and delivering better customer experiences.
And since they were founded in 2019, they have chosen to avoid developing every one of these tools from scratch by using Retool. Today, the operations and engineering teams use Retool to build and manage over 100 internal solutions for every team.
Calvin Lee is one of those teammates. He uses Retool every day in his role as Chief of Staff at Ramp—so it’s no surprise that he deeply understands how Retool helps Ramp deliver better products and experiences faster. “There’s immense potential when we use tools to empower internal teams because it ultimately improves the customer experience—whether the internal process involves interacting with customers or not,” he explains.
We’ve told you Ramp’s story from the engineering perspective, but here’s an inside look at how the financial operations and product teams changed how they work with Retool.
Because Ramp deals with lending—and therefore, risk management—it’s crucial that internal processes be buttoned up so that customers are getting the best service and Ramp is mitigating risk. To do that, the risk engineering and risk operations team rely on Retool as a command center to manage the operational work that comes with the underwriting process securely and efficiently.
For example, when a fraud signal is raised or a customer wants to increase their credit limit, it falls to the risk operations team to make a decision. But in order to make an informed decision that will benefit the customer and Ramp, the operations team needs to see all of the relevant data. Instead of consulting several dashboards and databases, they simply check a Retool dashboard where they can see all the data they have about a customer at a glance and determine whether to make the change. The Retool dashboard shows them a customer’s key indicators such as bank balances, payment history and dates, and more.
Making a decision is one step, enacting it is an entirely different one—and where the process often breaks down. But because of how Ramp uses Retool, making decisions and changes both happen in one place.
Here’s how: by making their dashboard interactive, the risk operations team can make changes to a customer’s settings (like their credit limit) or resolve a pending risk flag right from the dashboard itself.
That’s where we gain efficiency: by putting the information and the action in the same place. Instead of seeing information on a dashboard and making changes in another app, we can serve our customers faster, and our internal teams aren’t bogged down with processes and context switching.
Within Retool, workflows naturally go next to the data they’re modifying, and that’s where Ramp gains efficiency. “This is where Retool helps us more than any other business analytics tools—it combines visibility with action, saving us time and limiting the number of errors we make.” Using Retool helps Ramp service customers’ needs faster and provide a better end-to-end experience.
Ramp’s usage of Retool doesn’t stop with internal processes and data—it extends to how they build products and their commitment to delighting their customers. As a critical part of Ramp’s main line of product development, Retool is used to coordinate between product, engineering, and design to determine the best way to build features and meet broader business goals.
When Ramp began building their vendor management feature, which helps customers visualize all of their expenses, vendors, and payments in one place, they had an idea of what the feature would look like, but wanted to validate their ideas without spending engineering cycles first. So they turned to Retool, building a dashboard as a prototype for the feature that would eventually be in customers’ hands.
Using the dashboard in Retool, the Ramp product team could select a customer and see all of the data that would end up in the final feature, such as alerts, payment due dates, and a vendor list. It only took them 15 minutes to build, but the dashboard provided them with endless insights into how to scope and build a better feature for customers.
Within the dashboard, engineers could fact-check data and then debug their prediction heuristics when data presented incorrectly or just wasn’t relevant. “By helping us visualize outcomes and verify information, we could focus on the value the feature would provide to our customers,” Calvin says.
“It’s so important for product and design teams to see the data they’re helping visualize and iterate quickly—Retool allowed them to do that,” he says. “By seeing the data in a table, they knew which data to represent in our new feature and how to represent it.”
Representing customer data in any way can open risks of exposure, so using a dashboard for data visualization in product development would have normally been an added risk for engineers and designers.
By using Retool—which Ramp hosts on-premise behind a VPN—the data was protected already. “It’s good to know that our customers’ data is protected by the same level of security as it is in the application and database, yet it’s still easily accessible by the teams who need to see it to do their jobs,” says Calvin. “Retool removes the potential headache of having to secure customer information at the expense of prototyping.”
In the fintech world, differentiation is key to success, and at Ramp, that means providing the best possible customer experience and features. Whether they’re requesting to increase their credit limit or enjoying new releases that help them forecast future costs, customers expect the best from Ramp—and Ramp promises to deliver.
“It’s great to have a tool that can help us serve our customers’ needs, whether that’s through internal processes or external features,” Calvin explains. “By building better experiences for our customers, they’re happier, we see higher retention rates, and Ramp succeeds as a business.”
Want to hear the full story from Calvin himself? Check out our Financial Services lightning demo to hear from Calvin, as well as folks from Commonbond and Brex.
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