According to a recent Gartner survey, 89 percent of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator this year. They know they can’t take the customer experience for granted. It must be improved.
What does that mean? In the world of mortgage lending, improving the
customer experience boils down to making the process of obtaining a loan
smoother, quicker, more appealing and less cumbersome. For mortgage loan
originators and branch managers, that means partnering with forward-looking
lenders who can deliver a quality online lending experience.
The good news is there’s proven return on investment, or ROI, to investing in customer experience. A customer-experience ROI study by Watermark
Consulting showed that a truly excellent and differentiated customer experience is worth a great deal to the company that provides it. Watermark
analyzed eight years of stock market returns for companies that led in customer
experience versus those that lagged.
Leaders in the study far outperformed the broader market, generating a total
return that was 35 points higher than the S&P 500 Index. Laggards trailed far
behind, posting a total return that was 45 points below the broader market. So
the quality of the customer experience can make an 80-point difference in
market success. Not an insignificant number.
Build a better experience
Clearly, companies should make differentiating their customer experience a top
priority. In the mortgage business, one way to do that is to provide an excellent
online experience for borrowers. After all, today’s consumers — especially those
in the millennial generation — count on doing business online.
Knowing that, you would expect that mortgage companies would be among
the first to offer cutting-edge online tools for their customers. Surprisingly, for the
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most part, they are not. But mortgage lenders who have created state-of-the-art
online platforms for borrowers are seeing tremendous growth. Just think of some
of the fastest-growing lenders in the country, and you’ll see they all have one
thing in common: an up-to-the-minute online offering that makes things quick
and easy for their borrowers.
So what is required of an online lending platform to meet the demands of
today’s consumer? Here are some basic concepts that make a difference:
■ ■ Offer a platform that lets borrowers do it their way. A good platform
makes borrowers comfortable getting their mortgage online, but also gives
them multiple options on how and when to do so. Some people might only
be comfortable applying online, while others might be more comfortable
applying in-person but are fine with electronic updates. It’s important that a
lender’s online tools make it easy for the borrower to work with the company.
■ ■ Keep the originator involved. Most borrowers will have questions during the mortgage process, so it is important that borrowers can reach originators online whenever they need help. Online tools should complement
originators, not replace them.
■ ■ Empower borrowers from application through closing. The lending
platform should enable borrowers to monitor the process online, from start
to finish. This is why a standalone POS (point of sale) will be history soon. It
just doesn’t give borrowers a complete experience.
■ ■ Include interactive tools. These tools should include a short inquiry
form with 10 to 30 fields — sort of a lead-capture tool — so you can follow
up with applicants; a long form, or complete application, to collect all of the
information and documentation needed to make a lending decision; and a
borrower portal to continue the applicant’s online experience. The portal
enables effective communication and collaboration, and provides updates
after the application has been submitted.
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