Sallie Mae, the leading student loan provider, recently announced it expects to spend $70 million to address issues raised by government and regulatory agencies about its lending practices.  Based on our ongoing analysis of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) complaint database, this expense came as no surprise to Beyond the Arc. Sallie Mae could have avoided the costly penalty if they had been paying closer attention to their customers and using customer experience analytics.

In August 2013, we published an article about the results of our analysis of student loans complaints in the CFPB database, which indicated Sallie Mae was in trouble. The biggest issue – over 65% of complaints– focused on loan repayment. We found that Sallie Mae had a disproportionate number of complaints about loan repayment that resulted in monetary relief – over 70% of them. Discover was second with just over 12%.

Back in August, we pointed out that Sallie Mae had an opportunity to identify the root cause of customer complaints and improve their repayment processes before the CFPB took action. Analysis and customer experience improvements might have prevented further investigation and spared the lender millions of dollars in fines.

Other financial services providers can learn from Sallie Mae’s costly mistake.

To see the types of insights companies can derive from the CFPB database, check out our recent analysis of student loan complaints incorporating 2012 census population data to determine which states have the highest number of complaints per capita and why.