One of the hottest topics in mortgage banking is customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is a measure of how well the company and the salesperson meets and surpasses the client’s expectations during the loan process. In mortgage banking, one of the keys to excellent customer service is meeting the customer’s closing date. According to Stratmor’s recent survey of 150,000 closed loan borrowers, closing on time was of critical importance. Stratmor’s research revealed that if a loan is not closed on time, customer satisfaction drops dramatically.
In its survey results, Stratmor also identified “Seven Deadly Sins” that make customers unhappy. They are:
- Unresolved Problem
- No Checklist Provided
- Not Contacted Prior to Closing
- Experienced Problems
- Had to Call for Updates
- Unexpected Rates/Fees
- Asked for Same Doc 2+ times
While none of these items are surprising, many of them are directly related to an originator’s ability to set expectations; communicate the process and pricing; and follow up.
While it is certainly true that technology can address many of these issues such as uploading documents, checklists and automatic reminders, the quality of the communication about the loan process is still a function of an originator’s sales talent. Top producers are masters at communicating throughout the process while sub-par originators do not bother. Producers who are not good at communicating lack an organized series of touchpoints with consumers and referral sources for their interactions. They are also less likely to script what they say at each touchpoint. Underperformers are more likely to “wing it” and haphazard or poor sales volume is the result.
The lack of structured sales touchpoints is further compounded in a decentralized sales organization where each originator really is an island unto themselves — free to determine what works best in their marketplace as long as they produce loans. With up to 60% of mortgage originators not meeting volume goals (Stratmor), it is clear that a decentralized sales structure is not profitable.
What should senior managers do to correct this situation and avoid the Seven Deadly Sins?
Delivering customer satisfaction starts with determining what your customers value most. While this is a continuous effort since issues change, it requires senior managers to understand a customer’s pain points in the housing finance journey. To learn these answers, senior managers must listen to their customers on a regular basis. It is one thing to hire an outside firm to survey customers regarding what they say they want and quite another to speak with them directly. The buyer’s journey is undergoing rapid change and often times leaders don’t really recognize what today’s customers want.
Second, the quality of the originator can make or break a company’s ability to provide excellent customer service. Being organized and focused are just some of the personality traits that good originators must have. Likewise, they must be excellent relationship-builders. Communication skills come from liking to help people; low expressiveness; and being positive about people. According to my company’s research, these are among the predictive traits needed to succeed in mortgage origination.
Determining today’s buyer’s journey and hiring salespeople matched to develop relationships are the foundations to long-term sales success regardless of marketplace conditions.
Exceptional customer experiences do not just happen by themselves. They are a result of management teams who are willing to adopt a structured sales process that is informed by their prospects’ actual needs during the buying journey.