In­vest­ments in tech­nol­ogy and em­pha­sis on user ex­pe­ri­ence con­tributed to an in­crease in the av­er­age sat­is­fac­tion score for mort­gage ser­vicers.

National Mortgage News - - Contents - By Paul Cen­topani

Con­sumer sat­is­fac­tion with ser­vicers rises, but dig­i­tal has room to grow

In­vest­ments in tech­nol­ogy and reded­i­ca­tion to user ex­pe­ri­ence helped con­sumer sat­is­fac­tion with mort­gage ser­vicers im­prove from 2017, ac­cord­ing to J.D. Power.

The in­dus­try’s av­er­age sat­is­fac­tion score was 758, up four points from last year. While that in­crease was rel­a­tively mi­nor, a num­ber of ser­vicers ex­pe­ri­enced much bet­ter year-over-year point in­creases on an in­di­vid­ual level.

TD Bank topped all ser­vicers in year-overyear gains with 63 points, and Cal­iber Home Loans was sec­ond with a 61-point jump. Both had the largest de­clines from 2016 to 2017.

Over­all, mort­gage ser­vicers poured money into bol­ster­ing their dig­i­tal pres­ence, a trend ex­pected to con­tinue as the space evolves. Only 20% of cus­tomers said they used the mo­bile plat­forms, but those who did re­ported higher sat­is­fac­tion rat­ings over non­mo­bile users. The per­cent­age of mo­bile users is much lower com­pared with busi­nesses like check­ing or credit cards that involve more fre­quent trans­ac­tions.

For that 20% fig­ure to grow, a com­bi­na­tion of things need to hap­pen, ac­cord­ing to Craig Martin, se­nior di­rec­tor at J.D. Power.

“There has to be a qual­ity up­grade,” he said. “The ser­vic­ing in­ter­faces usu­ally aren’t up to the same level as other parts of the web­sites. The orig­i­na­tion side is where they’re spend­ing a lot of money. On the ser­vic­ing side, they’re not shar­ing in­for­ma­tion, they’re not talk­ing, they’re not ed­u­cat­ing, they’re not en­gag­ing … they’re pretty much just driv­ing you to act and that’s it.”

Adding value would be the way to dig­i­tally con­nect with more cus­tomers. “That may be ed­u­ca­tion, pro­mo­tion, or things like how to lower your monthly bill so you’re of­fer­ing up in­for­ma­tion with value to the con­sumer to get their eyes to your site,” Martin said.

Quicken Loans is the top-rated mort­gage ser­vicer for the fifth straight year. Quicken’s score of 857 is 99 points above the in­dus­try av­er­age and grew by 17 points year-over-year.

“They’re one of the few mort­gage ser­vicers to­day that is of­fer­ing a mo­bile app on the ser­vic­ing side,” Martin said. “Tech­nol­ogy sets them apart. Their com­mu­ni­ca­tion [does], too.”

One of the chal­lenges for ser­vicers is that their cus­tomers have lit­tle personal con­nec­tion with them be­yond rou­tine mort­gage pay­ments, Martin said.

“Quicken does a good job of en­gag­ing and does a wealth of ad­ver­tis­ing,” he said. “Both of those speak to the bor­rower in com­mon lan­guage. They’re down-toearth and plain-speak­ing, while still be­ing knowl­edge­able.”

Mar­ion McDougall, chief loan ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cer at Cal­iber, gave a lot of the credit for the com­pany’s im­prove­ment to its fo­cus on cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and de­vel­op­ment of a pro­gram called CLEAR — which stands for com­mu­ni­cate, lis­ten, ed­u­cate, an­tic­i­pate and re­solve.

“We re­fo­cused on walk­ing in the cus­tomer’s shoes, putting ex­tra em­pha­sis on lis­ten­ing to them in or­der to iden­tify the gaps in our short­com­ings,” McDougall said. “We ad­vo­cate for cus­tomers’ goals rather than just meet­ing their needs and find res­o­lu­tions swiftly. We also went live with our mo­bile app ear­lier this year.”

Cal­iber’s steps to im­prove­ment align with Martin’s ad­vice for ser­vicers, whom he says are at a cross­roads.

“They’re go­ing two di­rec­tions: Some are re­trench­ing and not spend­ing money, be­ing con­ser­va­tive and try­ing to wait out this mar­ket­place. Oth­ers are driv­ing for change, in­vest­ing in tech­nol­ogy in both ser­vic­ing and orig­i­na­tion,” Martin said.

If ser­vicers “keep do­ing the same thing they’ve al­ways done, even­tu­ally they’ll lose mar­ket share to cut­ting-edge play­ers — people fo­cused on the cus­tomer, people fo­cused on dig­i­tal and driv­ing that op­ti­mal ex­pe­ri­ence in the new way of do­ing busi­ness.”

Mort­gage ser­vicer sat­is­fac­tion is cal­cu­lated on a 1,000-point scale and mea­sured through feed­back from six cat­e­gories: new cus­tomer ori­en­ta­tion, billing and pay­ment process, escrow ac­count ad­min­is­tra­tion, in­ter­ac­tion, mort­gage fees and com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

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