The old adage “you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family” might not seem to have much to do with banking, but when it comes to financing your home, it could also be said “you can choose your mortgage lender, but you can’t choose your servicer.”
True as this may be, servicers should be wary of relying on the lack of consumer choice when deciding if they need to spend money on their satisfaction. The 2016 J.D. Power Mortgage Servicer Satisfaction Study finds that improving the borrower experience will pay back a servicer’s investment with interest.
Craig Martin, senior director of the mortgage practice at J.D. Power says servicers that invest strategically in the customer experience can not only recapture that investment, but also increase profits and raise customer satisfaction:
“The study clearly shows that interacting with customers more efficiently—and more effectively—can reduce costs and increase profit for servicers regardless of the business model, while having the added bonus of improving satisfaction.”
Among the benefits of putting customers first, the study cites complaint reduction, call deflection, customer retention and cross-selling as the primary drivers of ROI. To achieve these outcomes, one of the best things a servicer can do is help borrowers to help themselves by making it easier for them to find answers to their own questions before making a call.
A bank that has put this advice into practice is Swedbank, one of Europe’s largest financial institutions and a leading innovator when it comes to enabling a better customer experience. Swedbank recently deployed an automated virtual assistant on its website that answers customer’s questions while simulating a human conversation. In an average month, the virtual assistant handles over 30,000 conversations and successfully answers eight of every 10 questions. Martin Kedback, Swedbank’s Head of Channel Management, says the virtual assistant has been so well received by customers that the next step is to enable it across all its digital channels.
USAA, one of the top servicers in the J.D. Power study, provides a mobile virtual assistant to help its customers find the information they’re looking for or easily get to the right person to help them with a complex issue. Customers can type or speak their questions, which is a big improvement according to Melissa Ehresman, assistant vice president of Digital Experiences:
“The option to have a short conversation on the app instead of scrolling through menus gives our members more control over their banking and lots of time back in their day.”
Whether Swedbank and USAA’s customers think of these virtual assistants as friends or family, I’m certain of one thing – if given the choice of getting my needs met quickly and easily by a virtual assistant versus wading through endless pages of frequently asked questions, I’d choose virtual every time. And I’d remember that my servicer offered me that option next time I need to choose a mortgage lender.