Be Southwest Airlines, Not the DMV: Why Customer Experience Matters in the Mortgage Industry
We don’t want to be Debbie Downers, but it’s time for a little real talk: for most customers, getting a mortgage isn’t a “fun” experience. No matter how much you talk up how smooth and easy the process is with you, for the majority of regular folks the prospect of applying for home financing will always be as exciting as renewing their driver’s license. It’s just one of those mandatory things you have to grit your teeth and get through as quickly as possible in order to move on to the new chapter of your life.
Don’t feel bad–it’s totally not your fault! Because of the rise of technology and a focus on customer experience, customers are simply expecting more and more from companies. Think of online banking. Customers have become used to the idea that they can bank anywhere, anytime, easy-as-pie thanks to mobile and online technologies. Now, they want the same experience when it comes to mortgage lending – and unfortunately, the industry hasn’t been able to shift quite as quickly thanks to regulation and red tape.
That leads to customer experience challenges and many borrowers having an outdated view of mortgage lending as a clunky, difficult and laborious process. Much like they might view, say, having to go the DMV to renew their driver’s license. Or heading to the airport to fly across the country. Both require a customer to physically go someplace at some point. But there’s a big difference in perception between the DMV and, say Southwest Airlines. And that’s all due to customer experience.
Customer experience (or CX, if you want to be hip and jiggy with it) is a huge hot button for companies these days. The idea focuses on improving the entire end-to-end customer experience instead of just “customer service.” It’s about redefining how your company interacts with your customer – which is incredibly important in the mortgage industry.
These days, you’ve got a lot of first-time borrowers who are entering the loan process as complete novices. Sure, they may have a general idea of what’s involved in the loan process, but they’ve never experienced it firsthand. They may have heard stories from their parents or friends about all the hoops they had to jump through five, 10 or 20 years ago when they applied for a mortgage. So what can you do, as a mortgage expert, to overcome these preconceived notions? How can customer experience be improved?
Overcoming customer experience challenges may sound like a daunting task, but fortunately, there’s plenty you can do without having to do a complete overhaul of your current plan and processes. In fact, improving your customer experience can be as simple as adopting one philosophy: be proactive with your service.
Meet customers where they are – as soon as they raise their hand.
These days, if you don’t get in front of your leads right away, you’ve already lost. Yes, that sounds very doom and gloom, but think about it: as soon as a borrower types in their info to LendingTree or any other site and clicks “send,” they’re immediately bombarded by emails and calls from a slew of lenders trying to capture their business. While you don’t need to be the very first to reach them, it does mean that speed-to-lead is absolutely essential if you don’t want to be left in the dust. You also want to be sure there’s a rigorous follow-up plan in place so you don’t fall off your customers’ radar. Think beyond emails and phone calls and consider texts and other “tickles” to attract borrowers wherever they may be An automated CRM strategy is a good way to ensure your leads get contacted in a personalized manner right away without you having to run yourself ragged to keep up with every single inquiry yourself.
Anticipate their questions and make it easy for them.
While excellent CX means different things to different customers, one expectation they all have in common is ease of use. “Make it easy for me!” is the cry of potential borrowers everywhere as they look at the complexities of the mortgage process. But what does that really look like? Sure, you can say you make the process “smooth and simple” until you’re blue in the face. But as our teachers always told us, show, don’t tell. That means thinking about where your customers are in their journey, predicting what questions or information they need, and providing it to them before they even ask. Are they first-time buyers? Send them some information about the process, as well as documents they may want to start gathering. Looking for options? Provide information about the various types of loans available to them. By positioning yourself as helpful experts, you’ll take the weight off their shoulders and give them the information they need (which they may not even know they need).
Talk like a person, not like a bank.
To communicate effectively with your customers, consider tweaking your messaging to be more personal (and personalized). Let’s face it: there’s a lot of jargon and buzzwords in our industry, and although some of them are necessary, they tend to make customers’ eyes glaze over. Whenever possible, tweak your messaging to sound more friendly, more personal and more like an actual person would say it. People are more receptive to messages that are easy to “get,” and by drilling down your messages into something that’s easy to understand, they’ll be a lot more interested in what you have to say.
Be anywhere, everywhere, any time.
One of the most direct ways to synch customer expectations and customer experience? Make sure you’re available whenever your customer wants. No, that doesn’t mean you have to be glued to your phone 24/7, but it does mean making it easy for them to get in touch with you. Optimize your messages and touchpoints to be viewed on mobile as well as on a desktop. Create an easy way for them to get in touch with you (or another mortgage expert), whether by sending a text or a call center (and be sure that customers get a response ASAP). Don’t forget about portals that allow them to review documents, upload information or handle any other to-dos on their time! By positioning yourself as the helpful resource any day or night, customers will be more willing to interact with your brand because – yet again – you make it easy for them.
You want to make things easier for your borrowers, and we want to make things easier for you. We get that staying on top of leads and being proactive to customers’ needs takes a lot of time – something you and your team may not have a lot of (what with you trying to do your job and everything). As a CRM company, SoftVu is experienced in matching customer expectations and customer experience. We’re able to set up automated touchpoints and a helpful communication stream to your leads, as well as follow the data real-time and make adjustments as necessary. For more information on we can help you create the best customer experience possible for your borrowers, use the form above to get in touch with us. We’d love to hear from you!