A few months ago, I started shopping for a new car. During this pursuit, I scoped out dozens of automaker and dealer websites to browse a wide variety of makes, models and price points.
With so many choices out there, I dove into the process eager to compare cars and costs to narrow down the best options for my needs. Thanks to the fact that most auto retailers list their product and pricing online, this process was easy for me to complete on my own time.
However, consider the sharp contrast between online vehicle shopping and the typical mortgage shopping experience. When customers expect complete transparency and convenience (think the Amazon experience), it’s remarkable most lenders have kept many of their current practices this long.
While the mortgage point-of-sale experience has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years, the average shopping experience still leaves much to be desired.
A Broken Shopping Experience
Put yourself in your prospective customers’ shoes for a moment. You’re ready to purchase a home or refinance your loan, so you visit a few lender websites. You find customer testimonials, photos of the executive team and promises of a personalized mortgage experience. Typically, though, there’s something very important missing: the lender’s products and pricing.
In fact, Black Knight examined hundreds of lender websites and found that just 32% make pricing readily available on their websites. Many lenders may find it difficult to buck tradition and publicize product pricing. But consumer expectations have changed – and they’re only going to continue to evolve. Lending institutions that fail to respond to changing consumer demands will, well, risk failure.
When potential customers visit your website today, they are specifically looking to browse your products and pricing – just as if they were accessing any other type of retailer’s site. Data shows that consumers begin their mortgage shopping research 171 days before they complete an application.
That means lenders have nearly six months to catch a prospective customer’s attention by simply making the information they want available. Failing to do so means these opportunities may be lost to lenders that do offer this basic information.
After all, why would a customer want to disclose their Social Security number and other personal information to access rates from Lender A when they can review them instantly on Lender B’s website?
Technology Ushers New Possibilities for Product and Pricing
Fortunately, innovative technology and application programming interfaces (APIs) make it easy for lenders to seamlessly display accurate product and pricing information when and where their customers want it – from websites to self-service apps and everything in between.
Thanks to APIs, consumers can now look for the best mortgage product and price on their own, whereas just a few years ago this task could only be completed by an originator.
At Black Knight, we recognize the importance of enhancing the consumer shopping experience, and we’ve focused significant resources on helping our clients do just that. Our best-in-class Optimal Blue product, pricing and eligibility (PPE) engine serves as a utility for the industry by making product and pricing accessible from any solution throughout the lending life cycle.
For example, through the power of APIs, our clients can embed a pricing widget on their homepage or within a customer-facing app. Additionally, Black Knight’s extensive partner network gives Optimal Blue PPE users the option to piece together a customized tech stack that meets their unique needs with turnkey integrations.
The Time for Improvement is Now
Tackling the issue of product and pricing transparency should be at the top of every lender’s to-do list. Fortunately, this challenge is easier to address than ever before thanks to modern technology.
Beyond the significant benefits product and pricing transparency adds to the customer experience, enclosing rates across your lending ecosystem can help with sales, lead generation, conversion, back-office efficiencies, secondary marketing and more.
Your prospective customers already expect it, and the technology is available to make it happen. Don’t risk falling behind the competition and losing business with “the way we’ve always done it” thinking.