Increasingly, cell phones, online shopping sites and social media apps are setting the standards by which financial institution technology or fintech, is judged. Just a few years ago, the device you have in your hand was called a smart phone. At the time it seemed revolutionary. Today, everyone has one.They are ordinary and necessary, and they are known simply as “phones.”
Phones conditioned all of us to expect real time, easy to use, meaningful technology that is at your fingertips constantly. When I look at the features and capabilities offered by the phone in my hand, I can’t help but realize these same features and capabilities can work just as well when applied to mortgage technology. Financial institutions should take a look at key benefits of our current technological tools, such as the phone or tablet, when developing their criteria for judging new technologies for their branches. This will give them better perspective to select and more effectively use the modern technology offered by the marketplace.
One of the most popular features of modern technology is the ability to deliver information faster, usually in real-time. People have come to expect it. I have seen cases where this has carried over into the mortgage industry when branch managers have said they need to be able to see loan officer production totals in real time. Ten years ago this was a rare thing but now it’s almost the standard.
Popular social media platforms and online retail websites are designed to attract and retain consumers. Much of the design effort has gone into enhancing the user experience. When you shop on Amazon, or when you see pictures of your nephew on Instagram, you get used to seeing and using the content you want quickly, getting results in real time. A manager operating a mortgage branch wants and expects the same sort of experience when using mortgage technology. This means higher demand for things like dashboards that are easy for bankers to use.
Most social media platforms allow you to fine tune the information you see. You, the user, prioritize the people you want to see more and minimize feeds from others. I see mortgage technology vendors now offering similar settings pages within their own solutions that were clearly inspired by those used in social media platforms. These settings pages in the fintech application are just as easy to use as those on social media and have a similar look and feel. Fintech dashboards should allow the individual user to determine which KPIs are most important and at the top of the page, as well as which branches or loan officers they want to track more carefully.
Feedback in the world of social media is instant, sometimes scathing, but often constructive. Thankfully, in the fintech world, feedback is generally constructive! Fintech providers should, and often do, respond very quickly to customer feedback. This focus on constantly updating and making the solution even more usable and friendly based on detailed feedback is key to the ongoing success of most mortgage technology providers. It is not uncommon for mortgage bankers to reach out directly to a vendor and request a particular feature that should be implemented immediately. I’ve even seen situations where customer attending a vendor’s user conference request specific changes and assume it will be done within days. Thankfully, most quality fintech vendors are able to accommodate these types of requests. This type of open feedback to the technology vendor becomes a type of “customer voting system,” where the best and most frequently heard comments lead the next development initiative.
Cell phones and social media’s wide use and acceptance causes its users to compare their experience on these platforms with every other technology solution they use. Regional and branch managers who make decisions regarding their technology solutions should take a moment to think about their user experience every time they use an app on their phone, tweet their latest news or buy something on Amazon, because those everyday events influence what they want in the fintech software they buy.
About The Author
Joe Ludlow is the Vice President for Irvine, Calif-based Advantage Systems, a provider of accounting and financial management tools for the mortgage industry. More information on the company can be found at www.mortgageaccounting.com.