How the Top Mortgage Lenders Put Customer Experience First
The customer experience means everything in the mortgage industry. In an increasingly competitive origination market, small gestures can make a sizeable difference. When everyone makes the customer journey their top priority, it’s these subtle differentiators that help separate your organization from the pack.
So what are those difference-makers? Here's how the best mortgage lenders put customer experience first.
Communicate with Customers Early and Often
Many starry-eyed buyers become frustrated with the path to homeownership. Mortgage processing and underwriting take time. Lenders must vet buyer documents and make sure the appraisal warrants the loan. There’s often little communication from the loan originator to the purchaser along the way.
Buyers don’t understand the nuances that go into the mortgage process. They simply want the process to be done as soon as possible. From their point of view, their dreams are suspended in the air without a clear view of the ground below.
Part of this is perspective. A quality loan originator will go through the home buying process somewhere around 8-12 times a month. They get to know the ins and outs of the process and become intimately familiar with how everything works. After a while, it all becomes old hat.
However, the average person may only buy, sell, or refinance 6-7 times in their entire lives. That means the process can intimidate even experienced buyers.
That intimidation grows when you consider that lenders require much more information to make a decision than they did prior to the Great Recession. Times and technology have certainly changed the home buying process, but the human element has never been more important.
One easy way to keep buyers happy is by increasing contact and shortening response times. Speed of contact is critical to keeping buyers happy. Buyer satisfaction declines sharply for each day they wait after reaching out to a lender, according to the J.D. Power 2018 US Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study. Customers who communicate through digital channels – via text or email – value speed of contact the most.
Build a Response Plan
Your organization should have a very clear responsiveness strategy that helps your buyer to feel a part of the process, not a spectator.
- Clearly define rules about getting back to people. The longer you go without communicating, the greater the frustration from the buyer, and often that can strain your originator’s relationship with the real estate agent. Set some guidelines upfront to avoid frustration in the long run.
- Understand how people want to communicate. Don’t just assume young people want to text and older people want a phone call. Ask how, when, and why your customers want you to reach out. Some will want you to share every new update. Others will want you to update them on big milestones – just not during business hours.
- Call even when you don’t have news. No news can also be good news. Offer your buyers an opportunity to ask questions of you even when you don’t have something to share. They’ll appreciate that you did.
Offer Methods of Accountability
Your responsiveness strategy should be part of a more comprehensive plan around accountability. If you’re serious about keeping your customers and partners engaged and informed, there has to be a way to measure the success of the plan, as well as a way to document when and where it’s falling short.
- Add your supervisor’s information to your email signature. This is a simple, company-wide update that allows your customers to seek out answers from authority, when necessary. Maybe you missed their email or you’re on vacation. This helps make sure nothing goes unaddressed.
- Update your out of office as needed. Speaking of vacations, loan officers can’t be on call 24x7. They get sick, have dentist appointments, and need to pick their children up from school. However, if you can anticipate and communicate the times that you expect to be out of the office, it will help customers understand any delay in response.
- Establish office hours. Feel like you’re always on the defensive? Set aside a fixed time every day for responding to calls and answering emails. This time block doesn’t have to disrupt the rest of your work or prevent you from doing other projects, but it sets up a clear time where people should feel comfortable contacting you. Perhaps it even keeps calls and emails from interrupting the rest of your day.
None of these suggestions mean your customer-facing employees are doing things wrong, but installing measures of accountability will go a long way to keeping customers happy and fortifying your responsiveness strategy.
You should empower your employees to slowly take a role in company accountability. Every employee will have a unique set of circumstances, but you’ll find that more often than not your teammates make the right calls and do the right things for the right reasons.