The most recent obsession in mortgage origination technology is with the borrower experience, also known as the customer journey. So many innovations in the digital loan process have been based on consumer expectations, because lenders and technology providers know that a consumer can move seamlessly to a competitor if their offerings are lackluster.
But technology is only one aspect of these consumer expectations. Joe Langner, CEO of Blue Sage, says that some lenders are missing the ability to think of the customer from a 360-degree angle when it comes to serving the customer with technology—or without.
“I still think we tend to think about lending in a silo: ‘I’m the wholesale guy,’ or ‘I’m a consumer direct guy,’” he said. “If you look at lenders who are really successful, the top lenders in our industry, I think those are the ones who have blended the consumer experience to be, ‘we want to do business with you the way you want to do business with us,’ and have augmented a combination of technology with people.”
Offering a personalized service, even if a lot of that service is provided through technology, can result in a lower cost, a better experience for the customer, and act as a differentiator for a mortgage company.
There are still plenty of ways to stand out in a competitive marketplace, especially in the area of personalized service and personalized offerings.
Langner said the key is to continue to look for those intuitive processes that consumers crave.
“Customers are [expecting] that if they’ve done business with you in the past, that you know who they are. When they do log in, they’re not having to type in their name and city and address—things you should already know if you’re a bank and they’re a customer or you’re credit union and they’re a member, or if they’ve done a loan with you in the past.”
Having a secure process is also a big feature as consumers have become savvier when it comes to data privacy and keeping their data secure. While trust in bigger lending institutions has eroded somewhat, smaller lenders also have a fight on their hands because an unknown name is an untrusted one. Building a brand isn’t just for name recognition in the marketplace, Langner said; it’s for establishing trust as well.
“As we move more and more to the web, we’re starting to ask [customers] to give us their passwords for their banking in order to automate, pulling asset verifications and things like that, and it’s an easy place to lose a customer if they don’t feel that you’re a trusted brand,” he said. “For smaller lenders, what they’re doing or looking to do is make sure that their brand is recognized, that they augment support and services with that process, but also, if it is a direct to consumer digital experience, they’re looking to make it a very secure process.”
Even if that true 360-degree solution exists today, it will change tomorrow, and there has to be a commitment to change with consumers who want to do business in different ways. Everyone, however, wants things to be convenient, and convenience today means a truly cloud-first mobile approach that can accommodate the consumer's preferences. That could mean communication via push notifications, the ability to actually talk to somebody, and allowing device independence.
“It’s not really an either or in my opinion, I think it’s an ‘and’ approach. Let’s have any way that the customer wants to do business with us available: mobile or web or loan officers or call centers or what have you. So as you think about just framing, how can we improve customer satisfaction, how can we drive a better process?”
The winning strategies are those that treat that customer through a multi-channel way of doing business, where all roads lead to one lender, one originator.