Tech Buying: Part three – loan officer tools and CRM

by Craig Anderson02 May 2018

Our buying series continues with helping the loan officer better assist their clients as well as tracking and maintaining communication with their current and future customers.   

Historically, loan officers had to utilize their company’s Loan Origination System (LOS) as a customer relationship management (CRM) platform.  Anyone who has used an LOS knows that when it comes to loan officer tools, they have very limited and sometimes nonexistent CRM-like functionality.  So how was a loan officer keeping track of all their leads, loans and past client data?  They were either doing this manually or had to purchase an off-the-shelf CRM system. The problem with these separate systems was that the loan officer had to manually update them, which would lead to incomplete, wrong and stale data.         

More and more companies are now popping up and only focusing on developing tools specially designed for the loan officer.  Do you need more proof that loan officer tools have become a major part of mortgage technology purchasing?  I recently attended the Ellie Mae User’s conference, Experience 2018, and while I was walking around the expo floor, I counted more than 10 separate companies all focused on the loan officer and how to make them more productive.  

With these new tech companies that offer differentiated capabilities, what are the things that you need to pay attention to and which one is right for you and your company?  

Adoption / Ease of Use
If it’s not easy to use and seems difficult to manage, loan officers will not utilize it.  Not only does the software need to be powerful, feature-rich and mobile, it also needs to be intuitive enough, so the learning curve is small.  What are some ways to ensure your new investment does not become an unused expense? 
  • Learn as much about the product as possible before you buy.  Get a solid demo to ensure this new software is what your loan officers need and want.  Don’t let the software company dictate the entire demo.  Bring up real-life scenarios in the demo that loan officers are challenged with today.  If the software cannot handle it out of the box, ask what the development costs would be to enhance it. 
  • Try before you buy.  Most technology tools have a trial period, called a proof of concept (POC), or a free version of their software.  If they do not, then you will need to do your due diligence carefully.  If it does include a free trial, explore the system for several weeks and see how it works.  The best way to determine the usability of a new system is to use it without being trained.  If you can set it up and use it with little-to-no help, then it is a user-friendly system that loan officers should like.  Don’t forget though, not only does it need to be easy to use, but it needs to offer a breadth of features and provide loan officers with necessary and helpful capabilities. 
  • Chat with folks who are already utilizing the system.   The best way to gauge the usability is to talk with a peer that is already using it and is willing to talk about their experience. 
  • Get loan officer buy-in.  If they are involved in the process from the beginning, helping to evaluate the systems and weighing in on the buying decision, they are likely to use it.  If they are forced into a product they don’t like, they probably won’t use it.
What is the ROI?
There is nothing worse than finding out your investment is not being used or you are not getting the results you expected.  Determining ROI is one of the hardest things to quantify when it comes to loan officer tools.  Here are a few things to consider:
  • Are your loan officers happier? Are they more productive? If the new tool helps to get new loans, enhances leads and closes more loans, then the ROI is clear.  If they groan and grumble about having to use the software, then they won’t use it to its fullest potential.  Without full buy-in from the loan officers, chances are slim you will see an ROI.
  • Borrowers today are becoming savvier when it comes to the home buying process.  They want to see if a loan is right for them and many fully understand the buying process.  If the new tool assists loan officers in presenting different loan scenarios to the borrower in a way they understand, the more likely it will become a sale, and once again, the ROI is clear.  No longer are you selling a loan, but offering choice, and the borrower is choosing to buy.

Depending on your immediate needs and technology goals there are several different loan officer tools and CRMs to choose from.  It is important to remember no matter what system you are looking to purchase, always make an informed decision before you buy.  Spending a little more time upfront evaluating and testing the system will save you the heartache of buyer’s remorse.  Don’t forget to invite the loan officer into the buying process—you’ll successfully onboard a new system that is utilized and liked, and most importantly, one where you can see true ROI.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss your options with a completely unbiased third party, feel free to reach out.


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