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.
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.
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.
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.
About The Author
Susan Graham is president and chief operating officer of Financial Industry Computer Systems, Inc. (FICS), a mortgage technology specialist that provides cost-effective, in-house mortgage loan origination, residential mortgage servicing and commercial mortgage servicing technology to mortgage lenders, mid-sized banks and credit unions. As president and COO, she is responsible for the overall management of the company’s day-to-day operations, strategic planning, customer relations and product development.