Since 2016, Mortgage Cadence has been partnering with Accenture Research, polling American borrowers to determine what they were thinking, feeling and doing as they were moving through their mortgage application journey. In 2016, when we first asked borrowers to rate their level of satisfaction with lenders, 45% said they were "very satisfied."

Just two years later in 2018, that number declined to 39%, leaving a staggering 61% of borrowers who are, at the very best, indifferent about their lender’s performance. It’s safe to assume a low likelihood of future business, an online review, or a recommendation to a friend or family member with such a low satisfaction rate. In any commoditized market where customers are looking for the lowest rates and fees, there is only one thing that separates you from your competitors: the borrower experience your organization is delivering.

Most borrowers today aren’t loyal, and their indifference is preventing lenders from achieving real, sustainable growth. The barriers to a better borrower experience, such as a market transitioning to purchase-dominant and the complex regulatory environment, are real. Sales and revenue growth in your lending operations don’t happen without borrowers who are entrusting you to process their loan faster with less frustration. It’s good for them, and it’s good for your bottom line.

ONLY 25% OF BORROWERS ARE FULLY ENGAGED

At a local level, lenders can take comfort in the fact that customers feel better about the relationship they have with their lender. The 2018 Borrower Survey of more than 1,500 U.S. banking customers revealed that 25% obtained their mortgage from their primary financial institution. According to Accenture Research’s 2017 U.S. Mortgage Market Trends, small lenders have, in fact, become a dominant segment, increasing their market share from 19% in 2010 to 50% in 2016.

This suggests a combination of great marketing by small financial institutions, fully engaged customers who want to keep their business with an organization whose employees they know, like and trust and a great technology stack  that creates a better borrower experience.

But any investment in your people, process or technology in order to gain market share has to begin with an understanding of the borrowers’ journey from start to finish. It’s through mapping each borrower touch point that you begin to identify where they may fall through a gap.

Explore objectively the mindset and actions of your borrower at each stage; specifically, what are they thinking, feeling and doing. It is at this point of understanding that you can determine the best investments in people, process and technology that ultimately supports your organization’s strategy.

In the absence of a borrower journey, you’re bound to fall back on digital and automation investments that aren’t designed to be a substitute for the human-to-human connection. This may, in fact, be the cause for a 6% satisfaction drop in two years.

REPLACING HUMANS WITH TECHNOLOGY IS SHORT-SIGHTED

To be clear, 70% of borrowers surveyed don’t care about meeting you face-to-face, however, they do want consistent personalized communication from real humans that things are on track to close as scheduled.

A highly personalized borrower experience that is fast, simple, transparent and secure across all channels, both online and offline, is a universal want of all borrowers.

Observation #1

If you think you’ve won the borrowers’ business because you have their application in hand, that may not be the case. According to our 2018 Borrower Survey, 49% of borrowers applied to more than one lender, and of those who submitted applications to multiple lenders, 72% did so because they found a better price.

What do you do when half of your borrowers are continuing to shop for a better price after they apply with you? Anything less than high touch from the moment you receive their application to the moment their signature is on the closing documents puts you at risk of losing the loan, and the customer. If you’re not competing on service than you’re competing on price, plain and simple.

The real opportunity for sales and growth is by providing to a borrower the education, resources, hand-holding and assurance they need, want and frankly deserve as they embark on this highly emotional journey of home buying. This is, after all, the largest purchase of their life. If lenders fail to make immediate contact with the borrower and work immediately to develop rapport, relationship and trust, then the borrower may easily be plucked by your competitor, mid-transaction, who is doing just that, only much better and faster than you are.

And, since you don’t get paid until the loan closes, if you fail to nurture them at every touch point and guide them on the journey, you risk not just lost revenue, but the added investment of labor and technology costs that you’ve already put toward this application.