darren-handsWhen it comes down to it, most products and services are a means to an end. The mortgage industry is no different. We’re the catalysts to a potential homebuyer receiving the loan he or she needs to buy or refinance a home. Sure, there are different loan programs and terms, but in the end, that’s what everyone’s after.

So what sets us apart? Service, of course. That’s an easy one. But here’s a harder one. What about that service sets us apart?

According to McKinsey & Co., there are a few attributes that win over customers in the mortgage space.

They include:

 – Reassurance – customers need loan officers that are not only knowledgeable, but helpful and accessible. They also need to know their LOs are dependable, meaning they don’t approach clients with last-minute surprises or request documents they’ve already provided. When things like this happen, the customer’s confidence in us plummets. While not all situations are avoidable, the ones that are should be avoided at all costs.

 – Transparency – explain the process. Be forthcoming about what you’ll need from them. Say something if you see a red flag or anticipate a problem. Communicate clearly and often. Answer questions as they’re asked. Be honest about whether a borrower will likely qualify or if they need to work on a few items first.

 – Simplicity we know the loan process inside and out, but that doesn’t mean it’s a cake walk for borrowers. This process can be extremely intimidating. After all, there’s a lot of money on the line! So prevent their worries from spiraling. Create a checklist of the documents they’ll need. Supply them with the numbered steps involved in the home loan application process. Remember that visuals often work as well – if not better – than words. Do your part to take the pain points out of getting a mortgage.

 – Speed – APM’s technology can accelerate many tasks, but it’s up to you to do the rest. File paperwork ASAP. Respond to communication in a timely manner. Do your best to get every loan closed early, knowing that will all but guarantee it will close on time (pending any problems). The homebuying process is fraught with hurry up and wait. Don’t be another example of this in the customer’s mind. Keep them informed of how long the process takes (better yet, include these timelines with their checklist and numbered steps!). Show them you’re hard at work ensuring that everything on your end has been submitted in real time, the second it was made available to you. That’s how you build confidence.

Though we don’t need a study to come to this conclusion, it’s nice to know McKinsey & Co.’s findings align with our own. The study went one step further, ranking the areas customers prioritize.

When it comes to obtaining a mortgage, customers want their loan officers to (in order of preference):

 – Get things right the first time
 – Provide quick, clear, 24/7 status updates
 – Obtain instant pre-approval
 – Be a single point of contact
 – Easily compare products on terms and rates
 – Allow the customer to upload and sign documents digitally
 – Use their existing data, versus asking them for the information or documents again

Working from a mobile app was also a priority, which is why APM has invested heavily in APM Mobile. All of these requests sound extremely reasonable to me, and they should to you as well.

This list proves that keeping the customer happy really isn’t that difficult. Their priorities are laid out bare. However, it’s up to us to make sure our own agendas and fancy bells and whistles don’t override these very simple requests. So stop and take a minute to confirm these are the same priorities you’re focusing on. If they’re not, it may be time for a marketing and customer service overhaul.

Regional Vice President - Southwest

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