Residential Magazine

Wow Borrowers With Your Existing Technology

The newest tools aren’t always necessary to create an exceptional customer experience

By Mike Seminari

Imagine a future where mortgage borrowers could skip past all of the most painful parts of the loan process, get their questions answered in real time, and have full visibility of the progress and approval along the way. Given the fever pace of technological advancement — recently highlighted by OpenAI’s artificial intelligence tool, ChatGPT — this utopian future may be closer than you think.

The mortgage industry is not quite there yet. But as baby boomers age out of their homebuying years and Generation Z newcomers fill the void, there is a greater expectation that new technology will create the conveniences of speed and simplicity as well as reassurance through communication and transparency.

Silicon Valley has not been slow to respond to these needs, producing an overflow of tech offerings over the past decade, many of which began as cutting-edge ideas and have now become essential to the modern mortgage experience.

“To best leverage virtual meeting software, use it where it has the greatest impact and when you know the borrower will be dressed to leave the house or host a notary.”

With lenders tightening the corporate reins on technology spending, however, originators are facing a tough question: Do I have the tech tools I need to not only survive this difficult market but actually thrive? Here are some unexpected ways that originators can leverage their existing technologies to create an exceptional experience for their customers.

Short-form videos

Mobile apps have long been available to help originators manage their business on the go, but the way they’re being used is evolving. Gone are the days (and the deep impact) of personal Facebook soliloquies, clever tweets, retweets and Instagram pictures of you posing with your borrowers.

The way of the future — and some would argue it’s already firmly planted — is short-form video, or videos that are 60 seconds or less. TikTok pioneered the space, but Meta (Facebook and Instagram) has followed suit and is making considerable gains due to its large existing footprint.

Here are a few interesting and relevant stats from analytics company Demand Sage:

  • In 2023, online video content is expected to account for 82.5% of all web traffic.
  • 64% of global consumers make purchases after viewing a brand’s social media videos.
  • 92% of marketers say that videos are a “very important” part of their marketing strategy.
  • 87% of video marketers recorded a favorable return on investment in 2022.
  • 86% of marketers claim that video is successful in generating leads.
  • 86% of marketers are using videos as a content marketing tool.

To best leverage short-form video, start by downloading some mobile video applications (TikTok, Instagram, Facebook) and watch some YouTube tutorials on how to create content. The sooner you bite this bullet, the sooner you’ll get out of the evolutionary crosshairs. Next, try creating content that not only attracts potential new customers but does so in a way that enriches the prospective borrower’s loan experience. Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas:

Educate your audience. Create short informative videos that explain the homebuying process, offer tips for first-time buyers, and provide information about current mortgage rates and loan options. Establish yourself as a trusted adviser, which helps new and existing clients alike.

Showcase your local market knowledge. Create videos that highlight your local area, including popular neighborhoods, school systems and local events. This can help you connect with potential clients in your area and set you up as an ongoing resource even after the mortgage transaction is complete.

Highlight your customer service. By creating videos that show your interactions with clients, you can demonstrate your commitment to helping people through the mortgage process. This can help to build trust and credibility with potential clients.

Document portals

Few lenders are still collecting paper documents these days, but just because you have a document upload portal doesn’t mean it’s being used correctly. One of the most frequent borrower complaints is being asked for the same document multiple times, which is happening on 28% of loans nationally, according to 2022 Stratmor data. This seemingly insignificant miscue costs 49 points on the net promoter score (NPS), a measurement of the borrower’s likelihood to recommend a company to friends and family.

This multiple-ask situation tends to happen when originators offer to collect documents directly from the borrower, usually via email, and then upload them to the portal. But if the originator waits too long to upload the documents, the borrower then receives multiple automated requests to complete the tasks.

What began as a goodwill gesture then becomes a referral killer. To best leverage upload portals, always let the borrower do the work, but offer to jump on the phone and walk them through it the first time.

Rethinking testimonials

When originators hear the word “survey,” two words typically come to mind: oversight (bad) and testimonials (good). The Silicon Valley startups that figured out how to collect testimonials have long been peddling the notion that this feedback creates top-of-funnel sales opportunities.

Unfortunately, the numbers don’t agree. Only 2% of borrowers cite online reviews as the primary reason for choosing their lender, according to 2022 survey data from Stratmor Group. Still, 50% of borrowers read at least one review before making a decision. Translation: Borrowers are curating their choices, then looking up reviews, so testimonials are a pull-through mechanism rather than a lead generator.

To best leverage survey tools, originators need to think differently about survey results. It’s not about oversight or assigning blame for something that went wrong. It’s about gaining visibility into the entire loan process, and having the control needed to preserve and protect the referrals they worked so hard to earn.

The average loan officer rating is 4.75 out of 5 stars, according to Stratmor data. And yet something as simple as forgetting to call the borrower to go over final numbers can cost a referral. Focusing solely on testimonials is the quickest way to forfeit potential word-of-mouth referrals. It’s the process where raving fans are forged.

Virtual meetings

Virtual meeting software such as Zoom, Google Meet or GoToMeeting became commonplace during the COVID-19 pandemic to help originators connect with customers remotely. But with the rise of remote work came the issue of on-screen fatigue, which has caused a return to phone calls and emails as preferred methods of communication. After all, being camera-ready 24/7 is exhausting.

To best leverage virtual meeting software, use it where it has the greatest impact and when you know the borrower will be dressed to leave the house or host a notary. That’s right, at closing. The closing represents 40% of the client’s overall satisfaction rating. Add preclosing events, such as a call with the borrower to go over final numbers, and this impact accounts for 70% of their overall satisfaction score. No other part of the loan process matters as much to the client. Hopping on screen is a great way to give them a “wow” experience.

In a down market, it’s tempting to fantasize about better times with shiny new technology tools that promise to make your life easier, more efficient and more lucrative. But technology rarely works like that in real life. More often, it takes a proper (or even clever) application to unlock the potential rewards.

Hopefully, these ideas will help get the wheels turning about how to delight your clients with the tools already in your toolbox. As the saying goes, the grass isn’t greener on the other side — it’s greener where you water it. ●


  • Mike Seminari

    Mike Seminari is the director of customer experience for Stratmor Group, a data-driven mortgage advisory firm offering its clients expert advice on strategy design and execution, mergers and acquisitions, and marketing and sales operations optimization and technology. Seminari has more than 25 years of business- to-consumer and business-to-business experience in the mortgage and technology industries. He has grown Stratmor’s customer experience practice into an industry leader in the drive to optimize the mortgage borrower’s experience.

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