In its July Insights Report, mortgage advisory firm STRATMOR Group offers an in-depth analysis of customer experience in the mortgage industry and how lenders are measuring and managing it. In “The Customer Experience (CX): Create Business Success Through a Culture of Excellent,” Sue Woodard, Total Expert’s Chief Evangelist who is consulting with STRATMOR to provide expert CX strategy advice, goes deep on the importance of the customer experience.
“Search the phrase ‘mortgage customer experience’ online and over 178 million results pop up. No wonder ‘the customer experience’ is seen as the critical differentiator, even though it is often missed or misunderstood,” Woodard writes. “Defining, understanding and improving the customer experience is definitely the hot topic du jour for lenders, particularly as the signs of rising interest rates foreshadow the dawn of a renewed focus on purchase transactions. It’s time for lenders to unlearn the reactive muscle memory of the refinance market and prepare for the purchase driven climate ahead.”
The good news, according to Woodard, is that most of us are already customer experience experts. “We surely know what a great customer experience is…and what it is not,” she writes. “The key is to change your vantage point and honestly look at your own customer experience from the outside in.”
To start with, lenders should define their existing customer experience, something that a surprisingly small subset of lenders have taken the time to do. She points to research that shows that while 82% of organizations agree that CX offers a competitive edge and 58% say it is their primary differentiator, only 14% are intentionally applying ongoing focus to CX as a crucial part of organizational strategy.
While many lenders have adopted various digital technologies to help create an easier and more seamless digital process, there remain many gaps to be solved in the overall customer experience. “Technology is a part of the CX story, but digital technology is simply a tool in your arsenal, says Woodard. “Technology on its own cannot create an optimal experience for your customers or employees. Your tech stack is there to help ensure the execution of your well-designed CX strategy.”
Woodard goes on to offer tools for lenders who are engaged in mapping out their CX strategies, including experience mapping, customer surveys, secret shopping, and persona development.
“Every lender already has a customer experience, that’s a fact,” Woodard says. “But whether you intentionally created an outstanding experience and are consistently working to ‘up-level’ it is another question. Does your process have gaps? Is it consistent? Measurable? Does your team understand, embrace and embody the strategy? Is your CX living up to the standards of excellence you want and expect for your customers?”
To lenders who aren’t satisfied with their answers to these questions, Woodard has one suggestion: take action. “With the market shifting quickly from refinance to purchase, and competition set to become even more fierce by Q4, now is the time to focus on creating or strengthening your customer and employee experience.”
A second Insights article by STRATMOR Group MortgageSAT Director Mike Seminari, “The Happy Path to Raving Fans,” compares the modern mortgage loan origination process to an episode of American Ninja Warrior. Can your borrower make it through the lending obstacle course and make it to the closing table on time? “Shepherding a borrower through the mortgage loan process can feel a lot like one of these competitions, having similarly high stakes and plenty of potential pitfalls,” writes Seminari. He offers critical insight for keeping borrowers on that Happy Path through the process.
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