After years of being derided for providing shoddy customer service, the mortgage industry has gotten better grades in the most recent J.D. Powers surveys. Here’s why.
For the second year in a row, J.D. Powers is reporting borrower satisfaction with their mortgage servicer has improved. The results of its 2014 U.S. Primary Mortgage Servicer Satisfaction Study show overall satisfaction was up 2.9 percent over 2013. Improvements in satisfaction were even higher for distressed borrowers — those behind with mortgage payments or concerned about keeping current — at an increase of 6.4 percent. Among the factors cited for the improvement, easy-to-use self-service features on the web and mobile phone were definitely a stand out:
“Satisfaction is improving, specifically among those customers having a hard time paying their bills, primarily because lenders are improving the experience by making it easier for them to use the website or their smartphone to make payments, resolve problems or get answers to their questions,” said Craig Martin, director of the mortgage practice at J.D. Power. “As more consumers use smartphones and tablets and younger tech-savvy borrowers begin to buy homes, the desire to use online and mobile channels will inevitably increase.”
What specifically can make these channels easier for the borrower? The report goes on to say:
“Transparency and clarity are vital, as the website must be easy to use, reliable and optimized to help customers answer questions in a self-service manner. Among customers visiting the website with a question or problem, satisfaction is 105 points higher among those who can resolve their issue entirely via the website than among those who need to use an additional channel after using the website.”
Starting the relationship off on the right foot was also important for driving higher satisfaction. Servicers that proactively reached out to new borrowers with welcome calls got the highest scores (832 on a 1000 point scale), followed closely by those who used personalized emails (819). Satisfaction was lower when borrowers only received welcome packets (808) or introductory letters (762) by postal mail. Those who were not welcomed at all were the least satisfied (640).
If your scores are not as high as you would like…
Based on these insights from the report, there are two key technology initiatives that can help servicers who want to improve their borrower satisfaction before next year’s survey:
- Virtual Assistants - Implementing an intelligent virtual assistant will improve the self-service capabilities of your web site and mobile applications. Virtual assistants can work like a digital persona that delivers personalized, effortless customer service via a human-like conversational interface. When utilizing a natural language interface, virtual assistants can engage with your customers efficiently, consistently and as conversationally as a human employee would to answer questions and assist in using relevant self-service features.
- Automated Welcome Calls – It’s clear from the scores above that starting off the relationship on the right foot can make all the difference. And, technology can be an effective tool in making that happen. In addition to raising satisfaction scores, welcoming new borrowers with a personalized, interactive voice message shortly after their loan is closed is a proven solution for reducing the rate of first payment default.
A bonus with both of these technologies – they reduce operational costs! Virtual assistants raise the rate of self-service containment, reducing the number of inquiries requiring contact center resources. And, automated welcome calls have been shown to be 30 percent less costly than using agents to make the same calls.
So, if you are looking to improve the customer experience and your J.D. Powers score, think about what’s possible with technologies like these in raising the bar for customer satisfaction.