First-time homebuyers…they’re oftentimes scared, confused, overwhelmed, and skeptical when it comes to the homebuying process. What that means is they usually need extra TLC from their loan officer when it comes to obtaining a mortgage. These borrowers come in all ages, and from all walks of life, so developing a customer-centric culture can help you give these first-time homebuyers the patience they need. Try these 6 customer-centric culture tips to get your potential borrowers from considering to closing.
Find out more about first-time homebuyers in our Chief Economist’s First-Time Homebuyer Market Report.
1) Do the Simple Things Well
Your potential borrowers have many options when choosing a mortgage lender. What makes you stand out? Conventional wisdom tells us to “delight” our customers but forget the frills and go back to the basics of consistently delivering great customer service. Be on time. Be courteous. Return calls and emails in a timely manner. Make borrowers feel special, not that they are a loan in the queue. It starts and ends with delivering exceptional customer experience, which is doing the simple things well.
2) Meet Your Customers Where They Are
No, really. Start by asking yourself, “Self, do we really need to be sitting in my office to accomplish the goal of today’s meeting?” Make the experience as convenient for your borrower as possible. Step outside your comfort zone and try meeting by phone, video chat, at their current residence, their place of work, a coffee shop, the dog park, etc. So much of the work we do is remote, why not extend the luxury to the very people you are trying to impress? Also, ASK your borrower how they want to communicate throughout the loan origination process. Voicemails may be your go-to, but your borrowers may prefer texts.
3) Avoid Surprises
Tell borrowers what is going to happen during the loan origination process and when. Then tell them again. And post it on your website. And create a checklist or instructions for them to follow. The process is complex, confusing, and scary for those who have never experienced it. Remember, you do this for a living, they do not. Expectation setting communicates to your borrower that you know what is going on, you are organized, and have a customer-centric culture.
You can find several resources to help educate your customers in our First-Time Homebuyer Kit.
4) Lose the Lingo
Resist using acronyms, industry jargon and intra-office buzz words. A foundation of trust is built on transparency. Explain not only the process, but also the legalese to the extent the borrower wants it. Keep your FAQs or a term dictionary updated and online for easy access to those who want to understand but may be too embarrassed to ask.
5) Ask for Feedback
There is an overwhelming majority of leaders that believe they deliver an “exceptional customer experience,” but less than half of customers agree. Customer research is as much of an art as it is a skill, however, you can get a good bit of information by asking your new homeowner one simple question, “How likely are you to recommend obtaining a mortgage with (your business name) to a friend or relative?” Then ask, “For what reasons did you give that answer”. Email is the most manageable way to accomplish obtaining (relatively) honest feedback. Ask your happiest customers to write an endorsement on your website or on social media to illustrate your differentiator is customer experience.
6) We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know
Customer feedback is a gift, particularly when customers give you insights that are truly actionable. Share that information with anyone in your organization that will listen, particularly those who are part of the mortgage lending process. Challenge leaders to make changes to improve the customer experience.
Develop Your Customer-Centric Culture Today
Every borrower is different. But every customer wants to feel understood, appreciated and prioritized, particularly when making one of the largest purchases of their life. Challenge your process, your approach and the status-quo. Borrowers have options. Make yours the one that stands out.