Byron Marshall: ‘Customer Journey Mapping’ Delivers Deep Insights for Mortgage Companies


PERSON OF THE WEEK: As far as the mortgage lifecycle goes, 30 years is a long “journey,” but as many mortgage lenders are learning, there are huge advantages to sharing that journey with their borrowers every step of the way.

Back in the “old days,” mortgages were sort of like “sailboats” that were set-off on 30-year voyages with the borrower aboard; but as soon as a “sailboat” dropped below the horizon, the lender was often already out of the picture.

Today, mortgages can still be visualized that same way, but lenders now have the unique ability, by way of Web technology, to accurately track loan performance and stay “connected” with borrowers throughout the entire journey. This, in turn, gives them the ability to win mortgage “customers for life” and build brand loyalty, provided they keep the journey smooth and worthwhile.

This ability to accurately track where every loan is in the lifecycle, along with each borrower’s life’s circumstances, has helped give rise to “customer journey mapping,” which is a way of visualizing a customer’s journey (or, more often, groups of customers organized by “type”) in linear fashion, along a timeline of events. This can give mortgage companies deeper insights as to how they can improve their processes and build borrower satisfaction.

To learn more about “customer journey mapping” and what it means for mortgage lenders, MortgageOrb interviewed Byron Marshall, director of BAI, a nonprofit independent organization that delivers actionable insights to the financial services industry.

Q: What is the importance of customer journey mapping?

Marshall: Customer journey mapping (CJM) is the visualization of every step of a customer interaction with an organization. For mortgage companies, this process outlines the end-to-end flow of the loan process for a borrower.

A customer journey map is not meant to portray all borrower journeys as the same, but rather it should aim to represent the experiences of different borrower personas. For mortgage leaders, understanding customer journey mapping is essential, because as they explore their customer’s journey, they can begin to identify areas for process improvement and efficiency that will ultimately lead to a more frictionless customer experience.

CJM can also provide important insight as lenders’ embark on a large campaign or marketing effort, or a particularly busy season, such as the spring home buying rush. From loan origination to closing, these customer journey maps bring into focus points in the process that borrowers find challenging.

Lenders can use the insights gained in a proactive way to identify pain points and address them before seasonal or campaign-driven high traffic.

Q: How many financial service organizations are currently using journey mapping?

Marshall: As per the BAI Banking Outlook report, leading Indicators in customer retention research show that customer journey maps are relatively underutilized among financial services leaders, as 60% have never mapped a single customer journey.

Furthermore, only 11% of financial institutions that may have mapped their customers’ journey have consistently done so on an ongoing basis. This insight means there is a great opportunity among mortgage companies to begin using this important tool to help better understand their borrowers’ experiences and adapt to their needs.

Q: How does journey mapping apply to mortgage lending?

Marshall: According to our research, borrowers spend somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half shopping for online loans, including traditional mortgages and home equity lines of credit. This is significantly longer than the average amount of time it takes consumers to shop for any other type of accounts, such as savings or checking.

Mortgage leaders should note that one of the primary reasons loan applications are so challenging is the extensive borrower information required by operations and compliance. For lenders, this is an instance where CJM can help operations and compliance understand the process from the customer perspective and streamline it accordingly.

When embarking on the CJM process, it’s important to involve stakeholders from across the organization, not just a single department. This may require making a cultural shift, but involving these stakeholders from the beginning will ensure improved processes and efficiency as well as a heightened customer experience.

Q: Who within an organization should be responsible for mapping the customer’s journey

Marshall: Based on the BAI Banking Outlook research, seven out of 10 financial services leaders view customer journey mapping as a responsibility of the marketing department.

However, as mentioned earlier, to be successful, CJM should be a cross-organizational effort. All departments whose role impacts a customer experience should view journey mapping as not just important, but integral to acquiring and retaining customers.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with many organizations. Only one in four respondents to the BAI Banking Outlook survey believe customer journey mapping is “extremely important.”

Furthermore, only five percent of leaders that mapped their customers’ journey reported using the insights generated from CJM to improve their customers’ experience.

When CJM makes the shift from a “no-man’s land” of sorts to a cross-organizational effort, mortgage leaders have the opportunity to view it with the appropriate prioritization and take full advantage of its benefits.

Q: If an organization has not yet started journey mapping, what would be your suggestion on how to jumpstart the process?

Marshall: Mortgage leaders should consider starting at the beginning of the process – originations – just as the customer does. In order to take an all-encompassing approach, it is recommended that lenders involve all departments that touch the customer experience, such as IT, marketing, operations, compliance and frontline team members, from the very beginning and throughout the rest of the process.

The various perspectives will help ensure the organization is accurately capturing the path of the customer and collaboratively identifying action steps. It can also engage stakeholders early so they feel ownership of the output and use it to drive change and innovation.

It is important to recognize that CJM is not meant to map every individual borrower’s journey, since no two are identical and there are always outliers. It is simply meant to map personas or types of borrowers. Lenders can start by focusing on the borrower personas that are most representative of their customers and expand from there.

For those inexperienced in journey mapping, this undertaking may seem daunting, but if you do not have the expertise in house, consider looking at outside resources to help. There are firms that have extensive experience in this area that can assist with the CJM process.

Mortgage lenders have the potential to tap into a wealth of information just by stepping into the shoes of their borrowers. Leveraging this information will improve the customer experience and identify areas for growth.

While beginning the journey mapping process may look like an insurmountable task, in order to gain a competitive advantage, lenders should view customer journey mapping as in fact a journey, not a destination. And they will find that journey will lead them to success.

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