Borrowers Want A Combination Of Digital & Personal Interaction

Customer satisfaction with primary mortgage originators increased in 2018 as digital origination channels play a more significant role in the process, according to the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study.SM However, despite a clear preference for digital interaction at several points in the mortgage origination process, personal interaction with a representative still plays a key role, particularly when it comes to following up after an initial inquiry.

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“The mortgage marketplace is changing rapidly as traditional players and new digital-native entrants ramp up their digital and mobile offerings,” said John Cabell, Financial Services Practice Lead at J.D. Power. “While improved digital offerings are helping mortgage originators build customer satisfaction, it is important to find the right balance between digital, self-service offerings and personal interaction with a representative. Technology alone is not a magic bullet in this market; the key is knowing where to leverage it and where to layer in more traditional forms of one-on-one support.”

Following are some key findings of the study:

Overall satisfaction improves as digital plays larger role:Overall satisfaction with primary mortgage originators is up 10 points (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2018. This is driven in part by increased customer utilization of digital and mobile channels. On average, customers use 3.1 different channels during the mortgage process, with phone (72%), website (69%) and email (58%) being the most commonly used channels.

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Representatives still play major role in customer satisfaction:While usage of digital channels has increased, just 3% of mortgage customers exclusively rely on digital self-service channels in the origination process. In fact, overall satisfaction is highest among customers who spoke only with their lender in person or over the phone (871) when applying for a mortgage, followed by satisfaction among those who used a mix of personal and self-service tools (868). The most important parts of the process in which representatives add the greatest value are in the follow-up contact after an initial inquiry and when confirming loan terms and payment.

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Speed of contact is critical driver of satisfaction:Satisfaction levels decline sharply for each day spent waiting after inquiry for contact from a lender. Overall satisfaction among customers who receive a contact within one day is 869. Satisfaction falls to 852 after two to five days and to 806 after six or more days. The inquiry channel with the fastest overall contact times (2.0 days, on average) is online via smartphone/tablet, followed by online via desktop (2.2 days). Though not all customers use digital channels, those who do value speed of contact.

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Our intelligent digital loan manufacturing workflow helps lenders automatically identify and complete rudimentary tasks throughout the enterprises lending lifecycle, streamlining the origination process to assist is closing loans faster. Our digital mortgage platform offers mortgage lenders the ability to further simplify their origination and closing process while keeping borrowers, realtors, and all other interested parties involved every step of the way.

The Lodasoft difference is in focusing on the loan, manufacturing it in as little time, with as little errors as possible, while communicating every step of the way. When implementing Lodasoft, lenders can take a traditional pipeline-driven model (file by file) and move to a prioritized task-driven model while automating communication simultaneously.

By focusing on the loan, lenders are able to identify all of the mini-bottlenecks from lead to prequalification to in-process, closing, post-closing and beyond. The borrower will see the benefits of more transparency and faster processing. As a result of simultaneously automating communication along the way, all interested parties have a new sense of involvement creating much deeper relationships further driving greater borrower satisfaction.

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Give Your Customers Wings

While life in the drama, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” may have been wonderful for the Baileys back in the day, jump ahead many decades and Uncle Billy and Mr. Potter are the least of George’s worries at the Building and Loan. George’s biggest concern would likely be keeping up with the Joneses, in today’s competitive mortgage marketplace. Today’s mortgage consumers have ever-evolving customer experience expectations that are expensive to deliver, and survival will take a lot more than some divine intervention from Clarence Odbody.

Mortgage consumers, their real estate professionals, and their loan originators have a common goal: a smooth and efficient process that results in a timely closing. This process creates a good experience for all parties involved. Most regional banks and successful non-depository mortgage lenders have mastered the art of personal customer service, but today, everyone involved expects a high level of communication and technology throughout the process. An emphasis on service and technology is critical to attracting new customers and even more important to retaining a customer base as well as talented loan originators.

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Bringing that necessary technology to the market requires that lenders streamline and improve internal processes and offer self-service technology and multi-device functionality to consumers. These efforts require resources as well as a dedicated and experienced staff to execute. There are some lenders that are not keeping up. Not for lack of want or need, but simply because the current marketplace and the return might not warrant the investment.

After investing heavily in the staff, processes, and systems to meet the regulatory challenges posed by guidelines like TRID, many banks and non-depository lenders find themselves needing technology to enhance the customer experience and maintain market share in what has been an increasingly competitive mortgage market place. While there are the behemoths rocketing the online consumer experience into the future, there are also a few other players delivering big gains in technology and process enhancements to the customer experience. It is proof of the “technology” concept.

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So what do you do when investment seems impractical but necessary?

A consumer relationship is a hard-earned, expensive proposition for any lender, be it a bank or non-depository lender as consumers are increasingly being enticed by the shiny concept of “technology.” In addition, finding and retaining the most productive sales staff is equally as challenging and expensive – you cannot let quality employees go.

Okay, are you ready for a financially viable option?

It’s simple – outsource your technology, processing, underwriting and closing functions.

The revelation of outsourcing might bring a gasp of disbelief, rather than a ringing of a bell, but this is not a new proposition. The question remains – can you trust anyone else to maintain your expected service levels while adding technology and remaining compliant?

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Two banks that are ranked the highest in customer satisfaction in New England by JD Powers and Associates for 2017 did just that. They outsourced their technology needs and they outsourced their processing, underwriting, closing and secondary market functions. They did this while improving market share and their compliance posture, all while maintaining their award-winning customer service levels. These banks gained immediate market advantages and did it without making a capital investment in mortgage-related technologies.

So, it is possible to keep up with the Joneses in this race for mortgage technology that could be likened to putting a man on the moon, all while maintaining the personal service levels that have built your brand. It’s just a matter of finding the right partner.

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LOS Eyes Workflow And User Experience Updates

Wipro Gallagher Solutions (WGS), a Wipro Limited company, has released the latest version of its Loan Origination System (LOS), NetOxygen v5.1. “We are constantly updating our system to keep pace with the evolving industry landscape, while adding innovative efficiencies to enhance lenders’ speed, productivity and accuracy throughout the entire lending process,” said Scott Dunn, Head of Product Management and Compliance, Wipro Gallagher Solutions. NetOxygen v5.1 takes this agenda forward through many features that have been introduced in the LOS, that include:

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>>NetOxygen v5.1 provides a loan overview feature to offer users a bird’s eye view of various attributes of a loan in the form of a dashboard. It also provides users the ability to look at various conditions associated with the loan and indicates the category of a condition, when a condition is due and the status of the condition.

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>>As part of WGS’ continued focus to expand its list of service providers, it has added several interfaces to fully integrate with Fannie Mae’s Day One Certainty and help lenders process loans in a more automated and streamlined fashion, while enabling a quicker time to close.

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>>NetOxygen v5.1 offers several new self-service tools to enable lenders to perform certain configuration tasks by themselves, thereby boosting operational efficiency and reducing time to market. These features include product and pricing setup, conditions configuration, configurable fee matrices and a user management tool.

>>This version features a well-defined API that allows more seamless integration of third-party applications and several technology updates designed to enhance performance of operations and the user experience.

>>In addition to the system’s numerous workflow feature updates, the 5.1 version integrates a combined correspondent and wholesale portal to offer a more simplified experience pertaining to the processing of loans that originate from the correspondent and wholesale channels.

>>NetOxygen v5.1 Platform also supports the WGS SaaS offering which provides regional and mid- market lenders lower cost of entry, scalability and reduced time to market. NetOxygen’s SaaS offering will keep lenders up-to-date with upgrades and security patches while ensuring best-in-class system uptime.  It offers a pay-as-you-go variable cost model to help lenders reap the benefits of the platform without significant upfront investments. Clients on the SaaS offering will be able to take advantage of the all the powerful features of NetOxygen including multichannel support, self-service tools, and expanding partner ecosystem.

>>Finally, NetOxygen v5.1 fully complies with the latest industry regulatory changes. The expanded set of reportable fields as set out in HMDA 2018 is fully supported, and the new version incorporates changes to the format and number of fields within the HMDA Loan Application Register (LAR). This updated version is also fully compliant with the Uniform Closing Dataset (UCD) mandate, providing a common dataset for loan deliveries to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as part of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Closing Disclosure. Other compliance changes include Military Lending Act updates, Desktop Underwriter version 10.1 updates, a revised Cash Flow Analysis worksheet (Form 1084) and Single Housing Guaranteed Income Limits table updates.

“Our innovations are designed to not only meet the regulatory and workflow demands of our valued customers, but also give them a competitive edge to fuel future growth,” said Alok Bansal, Vice President and Business Head of Wipro Gallagher Solutions. “We are very excited about our SaaS offering that will substantially improve lenders’ efficiencies and help them drive digital transformation with the NetOxygen platform,” he added.

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The Impact Of Mobile Technology


William Mills Agency has released its 14th annual financial services industry research report, Bankers As Buyers 2017. Key trends in this year’s report include the continued evolution of payments technology, increased adoption of self-service and innovative branch automation technology, and further enhancements to mobile banking – all converging as part of an overlying strategy to improve the customer experience.

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Leading industry analysts, consultants, bankers and financial technology professionals share commentary as well as insights on trends for the year. The report also includes research and articles about what technology, solutions and services U.S. bankers will likely purchase in 2017. Some findings include:

>>Jimmy Sawyers, co-founder of Sawyers & Jacobs LLC predicts that social media will become commoditized in 2017 and that Twitter will peak, then slowly die in 2020;

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>>Ron Shevlin, director of research at Cornerstone Advisors, shared that they are expecting to see a renewed focus on CRM systems, which have been largely ignored by financial institutions over the last several years;

>>One-third of consumers surveyed recently by NTT Data expect mobile money to dominate payments within the decade; and

>>According to the Safe Systems’ 2017 Community Bank Information Technology Outlook Study, more than 80% of survey respondents have been affected by debit card fraud and email phishing attempts in the last 18 months, and due to these threats, more than 77% increased their IT security spending in the last 18 months.

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“While investments in financial technology and fintech companies remain strong, it’s clear that in 2017 the industry will encounter change in where financial institutions are spending their money,” said Scott Mills, APR, president of William Mills Agency. “What we are seeing is that the quality of the customer experience is top-of-mind for bankers and vendors alike. Having technology that enables employees to better serve customers and having the right people and business partners in place is key to a meaningful digital transformation.”


Customer Experience Is For More Than Just Borrowers

How can mortgage lenders be more successful? For years, the focus was on lowering costs and squeezing out as much efficiency from the staff as possible. While those are still key factors to a lender’s success, lenders are also recognizing the impact a strong customer experience has on the company’s success.

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Customer service and the customer experience have always been important to lenders. But now, due to social media, customers’ opinions and experiences can have a much broader impact on the bottom line. Social media has given anyone a platform to spread one’s perspective, whether positive or negative, on a company. This has shown the importance of having open communication with borrowers and providing a superior customer experience.

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The customer experience is not just a concern for lenders working with borrowers, though. Vendors who provide critical technology and services to lenders should also keep in mind that building a strong user experience for lenders is necessary for continued success.

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What does a customer-centric vendor look like? Here are three characteristics shared by technology vendors dedicated to building long-term relationships with lenders.

Understand What Lenders Want

Often, the first thing that comes to mind when talking about customer or user experience is customer service. And yes, a culture of outstanding service is very important. However, providing a great experience is more than just providing outstanding service.

Having a wonderful product that meets a demand is one of the primary factors in defining a positive customer experience. To ensure lender satisfaction, the product must work as advertised, be easy to use, and be supported by a strong support and training team.

When evaluating technology providers, lenders are looking at a few key items.

First, does the product deliver all of the promised services? Nearly as important is usability. Are staff members able to improve productivity and efficiency by using the software?

Secondly, lenders want to be confident that the cost is transparent and fair. Most lenders are not shopping solely based on price. However, nothing ruins the vendor/partner relationship faster than surprises in the total cost of the service or product.

Finally, lenders want to know they have easy access to your staff when they need answers quickly. This is where a strong customer support infrastructure is vitally important.

Design Products Focused on the User Experience

To build a culture focused on lenders, mortgage technology providers should keep a few things in mind. The first is when it comes to designing updates and new services, put yourself in the users’ shoes.

Think through how the lender will interact with the software. What is the typical user experience when using the software? Are there key differences power users experience that are obstacles to getting the most out of the software?

Ultimately, a lender is going to stick with software for the long haul if it not only increases profit and efficiency, but also makes the lender’s job easier. Lenders are also making more efforts to build borrower-centric businesses, so mortgage technology that helps the lender deliver a better borrower experience is more valuable. Perfect examples of this type of service include online mortgage applications and servicing platforms that provide borrowers easy access to online account statements and payment services.

Making current and emerging technology work for lenders is the direction mortgage technology vendors should be moving in. For example, we at FICS created the Mortgage Servicer API to work with our main servicing solution. The API has enabled our servicing customers to execute their end-of-day process, monthly investor reporting, and generation of borrower statements without staff intervention, allowing the automated interaction of tasks between multiple systems, such as a servicer’s core system or other vital programs.

Listen to the Lender to Constantly Improve

The final step to building a customer-centric business is to remember that it requires constant improvement and analysis. In order to remain relevant, technology providers must listen to lender feedback to stay competitive.

There are several ways to gather this information. Formal and informal surveys are easy to set up, and they provide snapshots of how users feel about the product or service. Some technology providers even provide regular forums – both virtual and in-person – for lenders to share feedback, make suggestions for enhancements, and provide additional training. At FICS, we provide our users the opportunity to suggest software enhancements throughout the year and an enhancements survey that is discussed and voted on during our annual Users’ Conference.

Vendors can also look to unstructured data, such as evaluating service logs, to seek out common issues. Are there ways to change the product or the training to better address the most common issues?

Building a lender-focused business is the best way to build long-lasting partnerships and ensure that your technology services and products remain viable to lenders for many years. Making the customer or user experience a high priority at every level of the organization – from product design, to sales, to training and support – is the key to helping lenders best navigate the current lending environment.

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Lender Looks To Drive A Better Consumer Experience

Ohio-based mortgage banker, Concord Mortgage Group, a division of NOIC, Inc., in partnership with Blend, a Silicon Valley-based technology firm, has released the Ready App, offering borrowers an elegant online portal to submit their applications, documents, and follow-ups in a secure, compliant manner. Borrowers of all ages applaud Ready App, giving it an average customer satisfaction rating of 9.1 out of 10.

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“Our capability allows us to speed up the loan process and reduce borrowers’ anxiety by providing transparency and a smooth process to quickly achieve their dreams of owning a home,” says Philson Lescott, NOIC, Inc. COO and chief digital officer. Lescott is a former business-technology executive of Fannie Mae. “We are focused on enhancing the mortgage experience for our customers by utilizing the most talented people and the best technology in our business.”

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Ready App is designed to take the friction out of applying for a mortgage by delivering a delightful and transparent experience, on any device, through simple conversational prompts and seamless direct connection to over 10,000 high-fidelity asset, payroll, and tax data sources.

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“At Blend, we’re building technology that reinvents home lending from the ground up,” said Nima Ghamsari, CEO & co-founder of Blend. “Built on a platform that integrates with existing systems, we’re thrilled to work with pioneering mortgage providers like Concord to deliver a digital mortgage experience and enable fast, simple and satisfying lending experiences to both lenders and borrowers alike.”

Ready App was launched as a pilot in October 2016, with a full company deployment in December 2016.  Feedback from customers and loan officers has been overwhelmingly positive: “Very easy. Questions were simple. Able to automatically import financial data” and “It was self-explanatory and hassle-free.”

Concord Mortgage Group’s core values and culture are relentlessly focused on helping people realize their dreams of homeownership, and with Ready App, Concord is well positioned to deliver a superior digital mortgage experience guaranteed to satisfy its borrowers’ needs.

Technology To Enhance The Customer Experience

BBVA Compass has deployed an end-to-end mortgage software suite from Accenture to streamline the bank’s real estate lending operations and enable its clients with digital tools to apply for and track loans. Here’s why:

BBVA Compass is using Accenture Mortgage Cadence’s Enterprise Lending, Borrower, Imaging and Document Center software to support its 672 branches across the United States. The new suite includes a core loan origination system and an advanced set of tools for online origination, electronic imaging and automated document management.

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“The Accenture Mortgage Cadence software empowers our mortgage clients by giving them the information they need, whenever and wherever they are,” said Eduardo Castaneda, executive director of Real Estate Lending for BBVA Compass. “It also helps us respond nimbly and increase efficiencies in a changing regulatory environment.”

Castaneda said Accenture’s mortgage processing expertise and commitment to providing lenders with state-of-the-art technology was a key reason for the bank’s decision. “We have a long-standing relationship with Accenture, so we understand their core technology and mortgage processing technology capabilities,” he said. “We are confident this software suite will position us to meet the needs of our clients now and well into the future.”

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“As the mortgage industry evolves and consumers demand access to more digital capabilities, lenders that can adapt fastest will win,” said Terry Moore, senior managing director and head of Accenture Credit Services. “By embracing cloud-based systems and new lending innovations along with an industrialized mortgage processing solution, BBVA Compass continues to show foresight and market leadership.”

“BBVA Compass’ choice of our software suite is further evidence of our unique capabilities to assist banks in adapting their business to meet new and emerging consumer demands, as well as their need to lend more efficiently, profitably and compliantly,” said Trevor Gauthier, managing director of Accenture Mortgage Cadence.

Accenture Mortgage Cadence is a robust mortgage loan origination software suite that covers the full lending cycle from start to finish. Lenders can process, underwrite, close and fund loans virtually anytime and anywhere. The suite also includes the Borrower Center, a point-of-sale portal for customers that simplifies the loan application process and includes up-to-date information concerning the borrower’s pending application.

BBVA Compass is a Sunbelt-based financial institution that operates 672 branches, including 341 in Texas, 89 in Alabama, 77 in Arizona, 62 in California, 45 in Florida, 38 in Colorado and 20 in New Mexico, and commercial and private client offices throughout the U.S. BBVA Compass ranks among the top 25 largest U.S. commercial banks based on deposit market share and ranks among the largest banks in Alabama (2nd), Texas (4th) and Arizona (5th).

Customer Experience Should Be Your Edge

Mortgage lenders are living a new reality: customer experience isn’t just about a solid customer service call center. An exceptional customer experience can mean the difference between winning and losing business altogether. Referrals are no longer just driven by partners in the real estate or financial worlds. Consumers are tapping friends, family, and social network contacts. The game is changing, thanks to the increasing influence of social media. As this trend accelerates, financial institutions will need to keep pace with consumer expectations if they want to build positive word of mouth and gain a competitive edge.

Consumers now have the opportunity to publicly share their experiences with any business, and they can influence a broad network of friends and colleagues. New York public relations firm Edelman reported that in the online world, 76 percent of consumers will recommend companies they trust to a friend. And 57 percent of shoppers are more likely to buy after receiving opinions from friends, according to a recent “Social Impact Consumer Study” from Sociable Labs.

Even before the economic crisis rocked consumer confidence in financial services, people turned to their friends for advice to find the best TV, cell phone, or a great new restaurant. Now, borrowers often seek referrals from their social network before they’ll even consider talking with a lender. If you are a lender, how do you deliver an experience worth recommending?

Building consumer trust through great customer experience

For the mortgage shopper, their customer experience can be a challenging journey. The idea of a straightforward purchase path or funnel simply no longer applies. Ideally, the customer’s journey takes them from learning about your brand, to engaging in early discussions, to submitting an application, to closing a deal, to maintaining a relationship with you for the life of their mortgage. In reality, during the origination process consumers are using mobile apps to get real-time info from websites like Zillow, they are checking Yelp for feedback on the loan officer, and they are rate shopping with centralized players like Quicken Loans. And at every touch point, they are mentally measuring their experience –and if it’s noticeably good or bad, they’re probably talking about it.

To leverage the power of positive word-of-mouth, lenders should consider a few key best practices to ensure they deliver a customer experience that inspires trust, such as:

>> Focus on the end-to-end experience – Evaluate the customer experience across all channels to gain a complete picture of how consumers view your business. With all the various players, the mortgage industry can be fragmented, and a mistake made by one department can sour the entire process for a borrower. Designate someone to be responsible for identifying and improving the customer journey. You need someone who is able to smooth any bumps in the road and strengthen the relationship.

>> Grow a customer-centric company – Invest in employee training to help everyone understand how to embody your brand values, particularly when they engage with customers. Responding to servicing needs or providing better refinancing rates isn’t enough for consumers. They want experiences that feel good, especially when their money and their home is involved. By building a company culture focused on exceptional customer experience, you increase the likelihood that borrowers will recommend your business to everyone they know.

Delivering a positive customer experience is good for business. In today’s mortgage industry, meeting compliance needs is only the beginning. A winning customer experience can be the key to a much stronger brand and give you a powerful marketing tool.

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It’s Really All About The Borrower

If the borrower isn’t happy, the lender loses. So, it’s to the lender’s benefit to use technology to enhance the borrower’s experience. For example, eLynx, a privately held technology vendor in the financial services industry, is using its Expedite Inbox to help mortgage lenders differentiate themselves with a superior customer experience. Here’s how:

The mortgage process is inherently complex and dominated by paper documents. Mortgage lenders are evaluating alternatives that appeal to consumers who demand convenience and expect instant access. While paper is still an option, clearly the quickest, most convenient and cost effective solution is to send documents to consumers electronically. But because of the personal information contained in the documents, regular email is not an option.

Lenders can use Expedite Inbox to send mortgage documents to consumers so they can read and sign them electronically in a secure portal that protects their personal information. The status of the loan is clearly displayed, giving consumers insight into where they are in the process and what happens next. An advanced monitoring system tracks when the documents were sent and when they were received, producing an audit trail for tracking and compliance purposes. And if the consumer does not access the documents online, an integrated print service will print a paper version and mail it to the consumer. This ensures the consumer gets the documents in the form they prefer — either electronically or in paper.

Freedom Mortgage Corporation, a privately held, full-service residential mortgage lender licensed in all 50 states, recently introduced Expedite Inbox into its mortgage process. “The smart application of technology is one way we are enhancing our borrower’s experience, increasing our loan volume, and staying competitive in today’s market,” said Stanley Middleman, President and CEO of Freedom Mortgage. “We’re excited about the relationship with eLynx because it gives us a tool to meet the needs of our tech-savvy customers.”

Sharon Matthews, President and CEO of eLynx agrees. “Today’s consumers are highly mobile and expect their interactions with financial institutions like Freedom Mortgage to adapt to a digital environment. Expedite Inbox’s portal approach appeals to consumers who regularly use technology to conduct business and personal transactions. Ultimately, this will reflect positively on their interaction with Freedom Mortgage, increasing their confidence and satisfaction with the mortgage process.”

With evolving regulation, standardization, and oversight, it may be difficult for mortgage lenders to differentiate themselves purely on loan products. Having a superior customer experience based on convenience and a personal touch may help financial institutions stay competitive. Focusing on the customer experience is key to creating customer advocates who will both refer business and expand their own relationships.

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