Putting the ‘Service’ Back in Mortgage Servicing

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Providing exceptional customer service is essential for prolonged success in the competitive mortgage industry. Given the pressure to comply with frequently-changing regulatory requirements, focusing on borrower satisfaction can be challenging.

Today’s borrowers expect immediate, convenient access to their mortgage information. E-mortgage technology – mortgage servicing software and Web applications – that expedites the mortgage servicing process is only part of the solution. Human interaction is also an essential part of the “service” equation.

What follows are a few strategies to help mortgage servicers improve customer service.

Automate Mortgage Servicing Processes

According to Craig Martin, mortgage practice lead with J.D. Power and Associates, “While the customer experience is an important thing, it’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is how to deliver service more efficiently, which in turn will drive customer satisfaction.” By automating payment processing, escrow administration, investor reporting and other processes with leading-edge mortgage servicing software and APIs that allow scheduling of recurring tasks, servicers can deliver service more efficiently, giving them more time to respond promptly to unique borrower needs. 

Mortgage servicing software and Web applications must contain the technology to allow the implementation of paperless servicing, an important component of going green. Many younger borrowers are concerned about the environment.

According to a recent survey of 1,000 Millennials, 70% consider a company’s environmental practices when deciding whether to purchase its products. According to one report, Gen Z individuals consider the environment the second most important issue today. To attract these younger borrowers, now is the time to reduce your institution’s environmental impact.  

Provide Convenient Payment Options

Mortgage servicers should offer borrowers several ways to pay – online, phone, mail and in-person. Many borrowers prefer the convenience of making online payments via online portals and web applications. 

Encourage the Use of Mobile Technology

Web applications – mobile responsive websites or mobile apps – give borrowers online access to their mortgage loan information and allow them to make online payments. Web applications can also facilitate communication between borrowers and servicers.

According to a recent JD Power survey of mortgage servicing customers, mobile customers are more satisfied and more likely to be mortgage company brand promoters than non-mobile-users. Unfortunately, only 20% of mortgage customers use mobile technology which is why it is important for mortgage servicers to engage their borrowers and promote use. Increasing the use of mobile technology may increase borrowers satisfaction. Account alerts can be used to encourage borrowers to adopt and be more active on web applications.

Provide Account Alerts

Account alerts are an underutilized way to provide exceptional customer service and promote customer satisfaction. According to the JD Power survey, receiving account alerts via text message, secure messages on the mortgage servicer’s website or email was associated with high customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, 50% of survey respondents said their servicer either does not have account alerts or they are unaware the service is available.

Remember the Human Touch 

Borrower-facing Web applications facilitate the mortgage servicing process, allowing borrowers to manage their loan with limited human intervention. While these Web applications make payment submission and access to loan information more convenient, there’s also a downside. As the mortgage servicing process becomes more automated and less personalized, borrowers may perceive that they’re receiving inferior customer service.

Surveys show that, although borrowers want a digital mortgage experience, they also want to interact with real, live mortgage professionals. Even millennials, known to prefer technology, still want personal assistance when paperwork and terminology get complicated.

The next generation of borrowers – Gen Z – may prefer face-to-face communication instead of technology. In one worldwide study, 53% of Gen Z respondents indicated a preference for in-person communication over tools like instant messaging or video conferencing. Therefore, borrower-facing Web applications should complement mortgage professionals – not replace them. 

To satisfy borrowers, mortgage servicers need to do the following:   

Respond Promptly

Borrowers expect prompt responses to their inquiries. According to a 2017 JD Power survey of 7,374 mortgage servicing customers, customer satisfaction drops when borrowers believe their time is being wasted. Among individuals who believe their time is wasted, 66% are dissatisfied when they have to wait five minutes or more to speak with a customer service representative.

Learn from Complaints

Customer complaints are a valuable source of information, providing an opportunity to improve the borrower experience. Resolving complaints is crucial for preventing other future grievances. For every person who calls to complain, there may be five other dissatisfied customers who don’t pick up the phone.

According to panelists at the Mortgage Bankers Association conference, the biggest complaints involve payment and escrow. Servicers may need to improve their processes, or they may need to educate borrowers to help them better understand and navigate the payment or escrow processes.

By using mortgage servicing software and Web applications to improve the efficiency of mortgage servicing processes, servicers are taking the first step toward improving the customer experience. Servicers must combine self-service functions with human-touch support. To improve borrower satisfaction, servicers must respond promptly to borrower inquiries, address complaints and educate borrowers to help them successfully navigate self-service payment submission and overall escrow and loan management. 

Susan Graham is president and chief operating officer of Financial Industry Computer Systems, Inc. (FICS), a mortgage-software company specializing in mortgage origination, residential mortgage servicing and commercial mortgage servicing software for mortgage lenders, banks and credit unions.

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