It’s no secret that the customer journey through the mortgage process isn’t exactly a walk in the park, and it certainly doesn’t come close to the slick and seamless experiences most of us have become accustomed to as consumers, offered by the likes of Amazon.
This is because, in contrast to Amazon’s personalised interface, which learns from products you’ve purchased and enjoyed, and uses this information to then recommend products you may not have even realised you needed (not to mention you don’t even need to re-enter your payment details to have these wondrous items delivered to your door in less than 24 hours), the mortgage process is cumbersome and complicated.
In fact, if an individual were to decide to undertake the task of sourcing and securing their own mortgage, this could potentially be a very dangerous decision if they weren’t familiar with the process, which most people aren’t. Get it wrong, and they risk damaging their credit rating, over-committing to repayments, underestimating the costs involved – and much more.
To navigate this process successfully and safely, most customers need a trusted guide: someone who understands the many risks and challenges, and how to overcome these to achieve the best possible outcome. They need an adviser.
There’s a reason that advisers are (usually) the only ones in the mortgage process to receive thank you cards at the end. And that’s because they’re there as a constant throughout that process – which often takes months to undertake.
For instance, if a customer has a question about their conveyancing, more often than not they’ll run it through their adviser first to get a feel for their assumptions or requirements. Or if they want a professional opinion following their survey – again, it’s the adviser who gets the call.
Because of this, good advisers understand that there’s so much more to mortgage advice than just following a process. It’s about being there for customers who are likely making the biggest purchase of their life so far, who don’t know what to expect from each stage of the journey, and taking the time to support them through this. A good mortgage adviser humanises an otherwise laborious process.
The untapped opportunity: customer experience as competitive advantage?
There is an opportunity here, for good advisers to start to differentiate themselves based on customer service. After all, customers’ expectations are changing – they are more driven by customer experience when deciding to buy. For example, according to Forbes, brands with superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than competitors that lag in customer experience.
But providing this hands-on, personalised standard of care for every customer is time-consuming. Unlike Amazon, mortgage advisers aren’t currently able to provide a personalised approach en-masse. The products are simply too complex, the enquiries too specific and the situations too varied.
And this challenge is being felt even more keenly at the moment, as the market continues to respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, with product criteria and availability changing on a weekly and daily basis. Advisers are running to keep-up with the constantly evolving market to ensure that their recommendations can remain timely and relevant.
But what if there was a way to scale the excellent customer experience that’s delivered by advisers every day, and roll this out to a wider pool of customers? This is the riddle that advisory firms need to solve in order to employ customer service as a competitive differentiator.
Here are four questions that advice firms should be asking to help them find a solution:
- Can processes be automated? If there are any processes within your business that are currently manual, but that could be automated or conducted by your customers themselves on a self-serve basis, then this could be an untapped opportunity where you could save time and reinvest this in delivering excellent service where it counts.
- Can customer communications be automated? If you currently rely on calendar reminders to ensure you remember to send individual, templated emails to each of your customers when their current rates or products are coming to an end, then you might be expending time and effort that could be better employed elsewhere. This is another process that can be streamlined by introducing email automation – plus, you could also include some recommendations about your other products or services, or your partnership with trusted third party providers.
- Can some communication be moved online? Web chat has been proven to allow users to serve three times the customer numbers that phones can. So could your firm benefit from introducing webchat surgeries to enable your advisers to serve multiple customers at once by answering their questions in real-time over web chat?
- Can you answer questions before they’re asked? More and more people are now turning to video streaming sites like You Tube to learn how to do things from the experts. Has your firm explored this online tutorial approach to record videos designed to address commonly asked questions? These could be published on your website, on your social media channels and sent out from your admin team when a question comes in from a customer, saving you from having to speak to all customers about everything.
Introducing just a couple of these small adjustments could prove very effective in saving time and resource, while also giving your customers a more streamlined experience. Not to mention, the time that’s saved can be reinvested in providing the personalised service that truly sets great mortgage advisers apart.
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