Regions Financial Corp. ranks the highest in customer satisfaction among primary mortgage servicing companies, according to a nationwide study by J.D. Power and Associates.
The J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Primary Mortgage Servicer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 5,000 homeowners and involves the 27 largest home mortgage providers in the nation.
The study measured customer satisfaction based on four primary areas: the administration of the customer's account, the billing process, the payment process and the process of contacting the mortgage servicer. Regions Mortgage received an overall customer satisfaction index score of 780, based on a 1,000-point scale. The industry average score was 730.
Regions, along with Branch Banking and Trust (BB&T) and U.S. Bank, received J.D. Power Circle Ratings of "5" – the highest rating possible.
Regions services more than 300,000 first mortgage loans with balances of $38 billion. In 2007, the bank launched a Customer Assistance Program to proactively contact at-risk borrowers prior to loan default occurring with a goal of helping homeowners avoid foreclosure.
To date, Regions has modified 35% of all residential first mortgages that have been delinquent by 60 days or more through its Customer Assistance Program and the Making Home Affordable program.
According to J.D. Power and Associates, consumer satisfaction is higher among those customers whose mortgage servicer contacts them first. For those customers who contacted their mortgage servicer, satisfaction averages 613 on a 1,000-point scale, compared with 651 points among those customers whose mortgage servicer initiated contact.
‘Taking care of customers in their hour of need is critically important, particularly among homeowners with otherwise blemish-free credit histories,’ says David Lo, director of financial services at J.D. Power and Associates. ‘Helping these customers can form lasting positive impressions of servicers and create lifelong customers.
"For example, among customers who say their servicer was helpful in dealing with their current situation, 21 percent say they definitely will use their servicer again," Lo adds. "Only one percent of customers who say their servicer was not helpful plan to use their servicer again.’
The study also finds that mortgage servicers who perform well on the key fundamentals of loan servicing have higher levels of loyalty and retention. These practices include clearly communicating information in statements, providing adequate information on statements and offering customers choices in billing and payment options.
‘The current challenging economic circumstances give mortgage servicers an opportunity to grow their business, particularly with low interest rates and the large number of customers who wish to refinance their mortgages,’ Lo says. ‘Providing current customers with the best service practices increases the chances that the customer will return with more business and also recommend the mortgage servicer to others."
One dissatisfied customer translates to an average of more than five negative recommendations, he adds.
More than 20% of customers whose mortgage servicers consistently perform all five top service practices say they ‘definitely will’ recommend their mortgage servicer to others. Among those mortgage servicers that fail to perform three or more of the top service practices, nearly one-third of customers say they would not choose the servicer again.
The study also finds that 18 percent of customers who contacted their servicer had difficulty understanding the representative. Among those customers, contact satisfaction declines dramatically to an average of 353, compared with an average of 707 among customers who didn't have any difficulty understanding their representative. The most commonly cited reasons for difficulty in understanding the representative include the representative spoke with an accent and the representative did not speak well or articulate clearly.
SOURCE: J.D. Power and Associates