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Customer Service Has Never Been More Important

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The mortgage application process is changing fast, and companies are learning to move with the times.

Perhaps it’s the fact that you can instantly find out how a friend’s vacation is going from 10,000 miles away. Or maybe it’s because you can easily check your stock portfolio, a PDF proof of your latest work, and sell some Bitcoin without leaving the comfort of your poolside deck chair. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that customer expectations have soared in the last decade, and companies are having to work harder than ever to deliver simpler and better tools of engagement.

Is buying a home any different for today’s mobile-first consumers? Probably not. Naturally, there is a certain amount of reverence and caution when making what is likely to be the largest purchase of your adult life. But that no longer means endless meetings, complex paper chains, handshakes, and signatures. 

Barriers to Entry

Mobile devices, cloud computing, and online security have earned enough trust from consumers that they are happy to conduct almost all their business remotely via their trusted devices and networks. That is a huge shift for mortgage retailers and one they need to respond to correctly.

When you consider that small fortunes are being made and lost every day in the burgeoning world of cryptocurrencies, it should come as no surprise that people are ready to buy property via their mobile devices. If you can make or lose $20,000 in a day on a digital product that you probably don’t even fully understand (e.g., Bitcoin or Ripple), then why would you not be ready to undertake the same actions to buy a tangible asset like a property? The barriers to entry for e-mortgages have collapsed, and a new generation of buyers is looking for companies that understand how they operate.

Getting It Right

So how should mortgage providers respond to these shifting demands? By thinking less about cost and more about speed, transparency, usability, and customer service. These are some of the values that are increasingly important to new homebuyers, and they are willing to pay for them.

The Customer Experience Insight blog breaks down some of the most vital factors in modern online customer service.

5 Keys to Improving Your Customers’ Online Experience

  1. More Personalization: The tools you use may operate remotely, but the experience itself cannot feel remote. The software should be able to identify a consumer, pull up their history, track the progress of their transaction, and make them feel valued and understood.
  2. More Options: It’s important to meet the consumers where they already are. That means having a social media presence, chat functionality to reach informed reps, and quick answers to common questions.
  3. Constant Contact: Ensure that your CRM is seamless and agile. Sometimes consumers make contact on one channel, then switch to another. Are you able to follow the conversation across all platforms? You need to. It’s also important to keep customers notified of progress, special offers, and any suggestions you may have. Don’t be afraid that you are bombarding them with information – it can be very reassuring.
  4. Listen Closely, Respond Quickly: “Customers’ biggest expectation in the feedback loop is that companies do something with what they have to say,” according to the post. “Companies need to respond to feedback, act on it and let customers know what’s been done to make their experience better based on the data. If not, customers will cease to give feedback.”
  5. Give Front Liners More Control: One of the most disappointing actions an organization can deliver is to take on a query or complaint and defer it to a higher level. It’s time-consuming, frustrating, and very often does not lead to a better answer. Companies need to empower their front-line staff to make decisions and act decisively.

The ‘Shift Left’ Movement

Many organizations that are committed to efficiency have adopted a system that embraces self-service for more repetitive tasks and allows Level 1 support staff to tackle more complex queries and functions. This is known as ‘shifting left,’ and it has the effect of controlling costs, minimizing lost time, and improving the customer experience, according to an analysis by cloud-based service provider LogMeIn.

“The key is to move simple, repetitive work as far left as possible, freeing the upper-level analysts and engineers for the most complex work as well as the projects they are working on.”
It’s an elegant and empowering philosophy that is particularly useful in an environment where a large proportion of a workforce is mobile and distributed.

Shifting a large portion of the work onto the consumers aids efficiency and delivers a level of transparency. However, it’s very important that it’s well-documented, that the UX has been thoroughly tested to guide consumers through the process, and that Level 1 support staff have access to a robust knowledge base so that they can help guide the process.

Putting It into Practice

A Wall Street Journal article from August 2017 gives a firmer understanding of how a digitized mortgage process actually works. The article takes the reader through some preliminary steps. For example, when they needed to authenticate their identities, the husband had to “identify a car he owned 20 years ago and the address of one of his children.” This was followed by an exercise where both parties “held up their driver’s licenses to the webcam so the front and back could be recorded.” The webcam was also used to digitize signatures which could then be used to ‘sign’ the closing documents.

In the digital economy, customer service has never been more important. The emphasis has shifted away from face-to-face interactions and onto well-planned and managed online processes that bring the best of the web to bear on the situation, with informed human support readily available to fill in the gaps and move the process forward.

Revolutionize the customer experience—increase satisfaction, loyalty, and move your business forward.

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Natural Interaction. Enable customers to interact with your business naturally, sending paper, images, or web/mobile forms to be processed.

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Provide Feedback. Agile Solutions identify and communicate missing information to you and your clients; ensuring processes are completed more efficiently and Service Level Agreements are always met.

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