PERSON OF THE WEEK: The COVID-19 crisis has had a profound impact on the mortgage industry: Not only have mortgage lenders and servicers had to deal with the complexities of transitioning their staff to a fully remote (or hybrid remote) models, they have also had to deal with the challenges of doing business with borrowers in a completely contactless manner.
Fortunately, most mortgage lenders and servicers already had the technology in place in order to loop-in all parties involved, stay on schedule, automate the process and facilitate a fully remote mortgage experience.
So what challenges has the pandemic created for the technology firms that deliver such solutions to the industry? To find out, MortgageOrb interviewed Ramesh Devare, manager, customer service, IndiSoft.
Q: Based on your experience, how has the customer experience changed in 2020?
Devare: The events of last year were unprecedented. A global pandemic tested business resilience and agility differently than any other crisis. Due to the pandemic, each business has adopted a model that suits its day-to-day operation.
Changes in operating models have affected the customer experience and expectations greatly. Businesses are now focused on meeting and/or exceeding customer experience while fine-tuning their operating model as the situation demands.
Some of the changes we have seen include an increase in the volume of customer support requests, more requests for phone calls and web meeting/screen sharing, an increase in the need for a video call feature and an overall increase in meeting requests.
Most businesses have opted for a remote operation model to continue to serve customers. Businesses have focused on ensuring they provide timely delivery by following appropriate security guidelines, and by making sure customers are happy with products and services.
In 2020, businesses reviewed IT needs to address the infrastructure needed to support the new normal and maintain business continuity.
Q: What were the top requests from your customers in 2020?
Devare: With most of the workforce working from home, companies had to adjust their working hours. They wanted to be more flexible, more productive, and efficient in completing their daily work despite having to do it from a more relaxed environment.
We also saw an increase in meeting requests. We attributed this to people needing more support as they transitioned to working remotely and experienced more challenges in the remote environment than working from the office.
Q: Any other notable trends?
Devare: During 2020, I noticed a few trends regarding customer service. In the new environment, customer expectations and needs have changed in the following ways:
- Customers expected real-time support: We wanted to support our clients when they needed it without any delay so they could focus on their core business. We provided a live chat feature in our products that helped users to have real-time help/support as needed when users were online.
- Customers wanted self-service tools: They wanted applications that were designed to require very little if any user training, be user intuitive with easy interface, feature self-help manuals and capable of being configured by users.
- Customers wanted more mobile friendly products: Companies wanted their employees to be able to access any of their IT products on a mobile device, be it computer, laptop, phone, tablet, iPad etc.
- Personalized customer service: Companies wanted to know you were providing service to meet their specific needs not just a canned response. For example, providing only email support may not always work for all types of customer during the pandemic. Instead, they may need a phone call, web meeting, screen sharing etc.
Q: Was there an uptick in customer service calls?
Devare: Yes. In 2020, there was an increase in customer service calls. Again, I attribute that to more people working remotely and needing more help than just regular support. As the new normal had its own learning curve for customers, it influenced customer service teams, too. These teams had to use multiple channels to reach customers and address their issues, from phone to web meeting, email and customer portals.
Q: What were some of the common requests?
Devare: During the pandemic most of the common requests were to have more meetings to provide quick help, more screen sharing sessions and more personalized customer service. As every issue is unique in nature and has its own severity and priority. The customer service team had to gear up to meet the growing demand of personalized customer service. Providing personalized customer service, helps companies retain customers keep them happy. By being there to address a company’s unique needs, you can improve the customer service index and relationship.
Q: How do you see technology affecting customer service?
Devare: Excellent customer service is the result of technology tools and personalized human support. Technology plays a crucial role in maintaining customer service. Technology can help make products user intuitive and easy to navigate. During the pandemic, technology has helped businesses provide:Live chat for real-time help.
- Self-service tools, so the user can do it themselves.
- Secure video call features so employees can collaborate as needed while working remotely.
- Self-help manuals to allow users to configure the system themselves.
- Secure infrastructure so the user has peace of mind and feels protected, while using information technology products.