While virtually every lender is focused on finding new business in today’s down market, they should consider focusing more attention on their employees’ experience. That’s the conclusion STRATMOR Group Senior Advisor Sue Woodard reaches in the company’s August Insights Report InFocus article, “In the Battle to Win Mortgage Borrowers, the Employee Experience Matters.”
“It’s been said before by many of the world’s top customer experience strategists: your customer experience can never rise above your employee experience,” Woodard says. “Many of us have been guilty of having a relentless focus on the customer experience without paying enough attention to the experiences of the staff we ask to work for and with our customers.”
Woodard says this is a mistake that too many lenders are making right now. Ensuring a good employee experience matters deeply in the struggle to get and keep your people and your customers. She points to data from STRATMOR’s borrower survey programs, based on more than one million plus borrower surveys, that shows fully 89 percent of borrowers choose their lender based on their experience, their relationships or referrals from others with positive experiences or relationships.
It is important to understand employee experience and employee engagement are not the same thing, Woodard notes. Employee experience is the means to achieve the goal and the result of employee engagement. She cites Gallup survey data that shows that only one in three U.S. employees are engaged on the job.
“Every company has an employee experience, though many executives never think about it,” Woodard says. “They understand company culture, and plenty of time is spent trying to create one that will make it easier to recruit and retain good people, but the day-to-day experience of the people on the front lines is rarely considered.”
One way to gain more mortgage business, according to Woodard, is improving that employee experience. To do this, lenders need to know what their employees want and what kind of an experience they are providing them with today. She provides an overview of what research has revealed as the most significant factors in employee engagement.
According to Woodard, dialing in the right culture is a different process for different types of organizations. “Banks are different from IMBs, distributed and centralized models have different experiences, as do channels such as Consumer Direct and Retail or Third-Party Originations — all impact the employee perspective, which will drive the borrower experience.”
Woodard says the biggest obstacle to improving employee engagement is management distraction. “In our conversations with lenders, we often hear that employee satisfaction is important to them,” says Woodard. “And yet, when you feel you are drowning, you don’t really care about the color of the boat you just fell off. I’s easy to understand why this hasn’t been a focus, but we continue to believe it is imperative to the future success of all lenders.”
To find out more about the current state of their employee experience, Woodard recommends that lenders ask employees directly. She outlines three engagement models that help companies do so either by asking the right questions or by surveying employees to get the best results.
“It’s clear that improving the employee experience offers many benefits, but how is it connected to our borrowers? To put it simply: Happy employees make for happy customers,” says Woodard.
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