[PULSE] Breaking the lender-consumer communication barriers

Times of crisis call for over-communicating

When the Federal Reserve announced that it would be cutting interest rates to a historically low rate of nearly zero, customers in search of mortgages, refinancing or HELOCs were quick to pull the trigger. What seemed to be a perfect opportunity to take advantage of during the recent economic downturn instead has become an uphill challenge for customers to hurdle.

For a myriad of reasons, lenders are either slow or completely unable to process requests and as a result, their businesses have seen a spike in negative reviews online. Those reasons include:

  • Capacity – The industry is getting overwhelmed with applications for refinance requests and it’s bogging down the order of work.
  • Logistics – Processors and underwriters have moved to work from home; this has created a backlog of requests while workers settled into their new environments.
  • Liquidity – People are scrambling for cash and it’s difficult to approve all offers when some customers have higher risk profiles than others. As a result, the industry raised the minimum credit requirements for borrowers.
Don Ross
Guest Author

It’s become increasingly transparent during times of crisis: The disconnect between some businesses and consumers is greater than ever. Beyond the issue of how a refinance or HELOC request is handled, there is a communication barrier that companies face.

This barrier is damaging to businesses because it affects their online reputation. And we know that more than 90% of customers consider reviews when making a purchase. However, there are methods to mitigate negative reviews and even turn those reviews into positive ones.

First, it’s important for companies to over-communicate with their customers about any potential problems they may face, whether it be a delay due to large volumes of requests or because your company shifted to working from home. Companies must set proper expectations by issuing consumer alerts on all channels including social media, the homepage of your business website, an automated alert prior to phone calls and automated responses via email.

Second, businesses need to respond to reviews quickly and effectively. More than a quarter of customers see responding to reviews as an important responsibility of a business and they have expectations of how a reputable and customer-centric company should respond.

Deescalating the situation by responding politely to negative feedback and assuring customers that you’re trying your best to find a solution will appease them. Research suggests 95% of people who had a bad experience are willing to give the brand another go if they know their issue has been dealt with in a suitable fashion..

Lastly, if your company is dealing with an influx of calls and requests, your best option is to switch channels to customer chat. It allows for instantaneous communication with multiple customers at once and is easier to deal with than speaking with an angry customer on the phone. In fact, 79% of consumers prefer live chat because it offers convenience, quicker responses, and more satisfaction. Among all customer service options, live chat has the highest customer satisfaction rate at 92%. Just providing the convenience of chat can lead to a positive review or prevent a negative one.

Customers don’t expect businesses to maintain 100% positive reviews. It’s only natural for companies to receive some negative feedback and it demonstrates both authenticity and credibility. Responding to negative reviews can be tough, but it shows how much your company cares about its customers. This is the foundation that customers want to see in order to turn their negative experience into a positive one.

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