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The surprising benefits of designing a mortgage process based on empathy and data

Roostify’s digital lending platform was developed to put the borrower at the center

While the mortgage industry is subject to more regulation today than ever before, the foundation of residential lending has not significantly changed. The system, built on 30-year-old processes, is still anchored around lenders and GSEs.

Roostify aims to shift that focus with a customer-centric model that puts an emphasis on empathy and using customer data to create best-in-class experience. Roostify’s digital lending platform was designed after robust research to enable a collaborative, borrower-centric lending experience every step of the way.

As part of its design process, Roostify developed a proprietary 360-degree research methodology to garner feedback from the most important human connection point in the mortgage process — between the borrower and the lender. They wanted to understand the mindset of both through all stages of the application process and leverage that insight in the design.

The Roostify proprietary research process is extensive, employing “best of breed” research techniques including: on-site visits, in depth interviews and usability testing with different stakeholders in the lending ecosystem. One unique element of this research is the ability to remove four types of research bias: brand bias, market bias, interviewer bias and confirmation bias.

Roostify tests an un-branded application in location intended to get insights from both urban and rural customers who bank with a cross-section of lenders. They leverage a third party to conduct the interviews and research usability of the digital lending platform to remove any interviewer or confirmation bias. The third-party interviews both borrowers and lending officers back-to-back, which means Roostify can evaluate how each values the interaction with the platform and each other – after all, the company’s goal is to focus on the human element, empathy for the customer.

“Essentially we are simultaneously researching the mindset of the customers and loan officers as they enter the home lending journey and we are able to uncover areas of opportunity and delight,” explained Roostify’s Chief Marketing Officer, Courtney Chakarun. She continued to explain that the ultimate lending experience is uncovered by understanding intersections in the mortgage ecosystem and how different individuals feel, collaborate in and experience the lending platform.

This type of collaboration is not new to Roostify, as the SVP of Product, Design and Engineering, Sandeep Aji and Chakarun co-developed the methodology. “I believe you can make the home lending process better for all parties involved and we have developed a platform where everyone wins,” surmised Aji. With empathy for the customer and adoption rate upwards of 90%, Roostify’s platform has some of the highest adoption rates in the industry among loan officers.

Roostify’s rigorous research approach revealed some surprising results and a few “aha” moments.

First, borrowers don’t want to be alone in the mortgage process. They want to feel encouraged and envision the end state of homeownership. In keeping with this theme, Roostify developed a collaboration portal that allows customers to invite key stakeholders to the digital lending platform – such as a Realtor, or even a family member – and give them the ability to see certain parts of their process and data. While private data remains confidential, Roostify found borrowers appreciate having more resources and being able to work with others in the home-buying process.

Branding and tone are also important, as it relates to engagement and transparency. For example, Roostify learned their users like to be able to track the status of their application via a status bar; the visual helps them know what to expect and users find it encouraging to see when they’re close to completing a step.

In addition, Roostify found that a curated experience with custom imagery resonated with borrowers. Their digital lending platform includes photos of everyone invited to the collaboration portal in a format that’s similar to a social media platform. Homebuyers can also upload an aspirational photo to remind them of their goals in the home lending process, whether it’s their dream home or the dog they’d love to have running around in their future backyard.

A final overarching theme that traverses the entire mortgage process is the need for connection. Roostify found that sharing information that helps support the lender-borrower relationship is a foundational element of the mortgage experience. Loan officers really wanted to include their own personal details, as well as, share their values in order to put the homebuyer at ease.

Roostify’s intense research is just one of the innovations the company delivers for clients.

Roostify is also leveraging machine learning and predictive analytics to generate life-event triggers to offer borrowers a hyper-personalized experience. Smart application pre-fill capabilities are powered by a modular, microservices event-driven design and architecture, AI algorithms, metadata extraction and sophisticated document recognition. As a result, the platform’s intelligent workflows are driven by prescriptive analytics and fueled by loan, event and behavioral data.

Thanks to proprietary research and innovative features, Roostify’s digital lending platform infuses the home lending process with customer’s data, empathy and understanding while remaining efficient and focused on the core mission of improving the borrower’s home-buying experience.

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