"Remember that the easier you make things for your customers, the more likely they will be to return to you, and to send other people your way as well."
Today’s mortgage borrowers are similar in most respects to those we see using social media and shopping online. The customers we want to appeal to and interact with are the same customers who are making purchases and decisions elsewhere in the modern market. This means we can learn more about them by studying what they expect from these other experiences.
What do they expect? How do they respond if they are unhappy? How can the mortgage industry meet their needs and expectations?
To answer this question, let's look at what consumers say they expect out of the other vendors they patronize.
Social media has become a ubiquitous tool for the modern shopper. Customers are likely to research businesses in advance. They check reviews to see what other consumers say and may even test a new relationship by interacting with a business just to see how responsive the staff is. They expect to find information about and written by the companies they may do business with online.
Online shopping is one of the best places to go to learn about customer expectations. Amazon, Apple and eBay have been shaping what customers expect when making purchases online. What customers want is to be able to find exactly what they’re looking for — easily and quickly — and not to pay too much.
Mortgage borrowers are likely to compare their mortgage experience with their online banking experience. Modern financial institutions are giving consumers access to all of their information in one place, right in front of them. They have their accounts at their fingertips and the ability to make changes rapidly.
If we take the lessons we can learn from other online experiences and apply them to our own customers, we get a good picture of what today's borrowers want.
Most online vendors are highly adept at personalization. They know what to recommend to customers based on what they have looked at or purchased in the past. They can tailor their customers’ experiences (including payment, delivery options, etc.) to fit their preferences.
Many websites today come equipped with chat functionality. Customers can type in any question and receive a response back within minutes. This has resulting in customers becoming quite used to having immediate access to customer service. Consequently, waiting for an email response now feels too tedious in a world of instantaneous communication.
Humans are driven to whatever will be the least work and involve the least stress. The fewer buttons they have to click, the fewer things they have to type, the fewer other places they have to go, and the less legwork they have to do, the better. In most cases, this means that everything is done in one place. It also means that the consumer has to do less to get satisfaction.
One of the things modern customers seek most consistently is speed. They don’t want to wait for people to get back to them. Customers want to do their part of the process and have the rest handled automatically. They seek to finish their purchase quickly. Modern customers are much more likely to move on if they experience a hang-up or delay.
So what happens if customers are displeased? Well, nothing good. With more options than ever to choose from in every market, customers are more liable than ever to walk away from a business and never return. Why would they waste their time with you if they have already had one bad or underwhelming experience? There are plenty of other places to go.
To make matters worse, people spread the word — for better or worse. If a customer really likes a business, they are likely to tell others — either with online reviews or word-of-mouth. The same will happen if they have a bad experience.
Given all of this, what can we say about delivering the kinds of experiences our customers want?
One of the best ways to make customers happy today is by utilizing modern, up-to-date, easy-to-use technology. Make sure your website is smooth and intuitive. And make sure that your systems are speedy, accurate, low-stress, easy-to-understand, and that as much as possible the customer can do everything in one place.
Tech alone won’t make happy customers. They will need to have access to real people whenever the need arises. It's important that human contact can be delivered quickly and easily. Many mortgage customers still prefer to come into a physical location to speak to a mortgage professional. So, it should also be easy to get to a loan officer in a clean, modern, and easy to find office. Maintaining top-notch customer service is crucial — it isn’t going away.
Keep looking for ways to make your customers’ lives easier. This is all about them, after all. You need them, and the happier they are, the better for your business. Remember that the easier you make things for them, the more likely they will be to return to you, and to send other people your way as well.