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Motivate Your Mortgage Team to CX Excellence

The other morning, my two-year-old daughter was refusing to eat her breakfast. Normally, we would just save it for her next meal, but this was going to be a long day and we needed her to get some food in her stomach. I tried patiently repeating myself, then offering her incentives (blueberries), then asking if I could feed her some bites. Finally, when all else had failed, I threatened to put her in a highchair, which she hates. And lo and behold, it worked!

It made me think about the age-old struggle lenders have faced in trying to build a customer-centric culture. How do you initiate behavioral change in your employees without having to resort to whip-cracking accountability and reprimands? Our question this month: How can lenders effectively motivate their frontline employees to deliver a world-class customer experience?

How Can Mortgage Leaders Motivate Employees to Excellence in Customer Experience Delivery?

In more than a decade of collecting borrower feedback on the mortgage loan process – over one million borrower surveys and counting — the number one frustration STRATMOR hears is the difficulty in creating internal behavioral change in the pursuit of Customer Experience (CX) excellence.

Here’s why:

  • Loan officers (LOs) are used to receiving glowing testimonials and perceive that they’re already delivering exceptional service.
  • Managers don’t want to bother their LOs, especially top producers, with oversight.
  • Processors aren’t generally incentivized on CX.
  • Underwriters are often not even considered to be part of the customer experience since they’re not customer-facing.
  • Closers are typically never shown any feedback regarding their role in the process.

It’s hard to engage employees at all levels when they either feel disconnected from the customer experience or perceive no need for change. I’ve spoken to many loan officers who say, “My borrowers love me. Look at my reviews and testimonials!” And they have a point; the average borrower review for originators rates them at 4.75 out of 5 stars.

But it’s not just LOs. According to STRATMOR data, the self-perception of lender employees at all levels regarding the customer experience they deliver is very healthy — maybe a little too healthy. When STRATMOR asked lenders in a 2022 study to score themselves in the areas of Application, Document Collection, Pre-Close and Closing, every single responding lender marked themselves well-above where borrowers did.

There’s nothing wrong with a positive self-image — that is, unless it’s holding you back from improving. According to benchmarking data from STRATMOR’s MortgageCX program, 55% of all loans have at least one major process miscue that destroys referrals, repeat business and retention. A single mistake, like forgetting to call the borrower to run over the final numbers, can cost 100+ points on the NPS scale, a death sentence for a referral opportunity. In a tight, purchase-heavy market like the one we’re in, customer experience is not only at the forefront of the battlefield but is also the primary determinant for future revenue growth and sustained profitability.


So, how do you motivate behavioral change? Here are four ways STRATMOR addresses motivation as part of our MortgageCX program and Customer Experience consulting engagements:

  1. Compensation
  2. Competition
  3. Recognition
  4. Reprimand


The primary concerns of most LOs are sourcing their next loan, winning their next testimonial, and cashing their next paycheck. How does a concern for CX fit into all that? It’s tricky, because many LOs believe that the customers’ high view of them personally will translate to referral business (spoiler alert, a high LO rating or even a glowing testimonial are both poor predicters of referrals).

The best predictor of future referrals is getting the borrower through the loan process with no problems. STRATMOR’s MortgageCX program monitors seven problems which, if you can avoid them all, results in an NPS of 97 — a guaranteed raving, devoted fan. That bit of new knowledge might be enough to persuade an LO to start paying more attention to the process, but it’s also possible that they may need a financial nudge to get the ball rolling.

Speaking the language of “motivation by compensation” can have a few looks when it comes to CX:

  • Tie spiffs, bonuses or rewards trips to minimum NPS score or minimum response rates
  • Issue Amazon gift cards to top CX performers
  • Allocate “steak dinner” awards for entire branch or team with highest NPS or Satisfaction

Show me a competitive person and I’ll show you a quality LO recruit. The two go hand in hand. It’s in their nature, and if it’s not, they’re not long for the job. Lenders have long played on LOs’ competitive nature with rewards trips and volume rankings, but that’s almost always based on quantitative (production) metrics, not on qualitative (CX) metrics. Flip that script and start turning up the competitive heat with some of these ideas:

  • Company CX Rankings — every employee ranked with a number for personal satisfaction and NPS scores, number of “perfect” loans (those with no critical errors), number of reported problems, response rates.
  • Heat maps — charts showing critical errors, segmenting (by color) the best performers and worst offenders.


Loan officers thrive on recognition almost as much as they thrive on competition. The beautiful thing about both is that they cost the lender next to nothing. Praising an LO for exceptional CX service levels can look like this:

  • CX Employee of the Month — maybe recognize one LO for every branch. And why stop there? How about Branch of the Month? Region of the Month? Most improved?
  • Badges — a badge in an email signature is a point of pride for an LO. It really means something — even more than a trophy on a desk, because it’s there for the world to see every time they type an email.
  • Shout-outs from senior management — all it costs is a few minutes per week for an executive level leader to read some testimonials and reach out directly to the LO involved to congratulate them.


When all else fails, there is always the performance review. This tends to be the least effective because the higher-producing LOs feel “above it” and the managers of those LOs don’t want to rock the boat with too much criticism. That said, STRATMOR has found CX-focused LO Scorecards to have a highly motivating effect when used correctly. When managers present scorecards to LOs as a means of identifying blind spots that are hindering referral business, LOs perk up. When you add a ranking/competition element to them, LOs may even start asking for them. Just make sure the cards are short and sweet.

You need to measure to do any of these. Measuring the effects is the first step to better understanding the drivers. How much more delighted are borrowers (i.e., how does borrower satisfaction and NPS change) when they receive an initial document checklist vs. when they don’t, when they understand fees vs. when they don’t, when they are given proactive loan updates vs. when they aren’t. It all starts with in-depth data collection on the borrower experience — something STRATMOR’s MortgageCX program can provide. Call me at the number below or find time on my calendar to set up a free consultation.


Here are three ideas that you can implement today to ensure you’re motivating your team to deliver a world class customer experience:

  1. Gamify CX. Allocate a few hundred-dollar gift cards (or a few grand for dinner) per month for top-performing LOs or the top team in each region.
  2. Heat things up. Give everyone a monthly or quarterly heat map of their CX performance in key areas. If they’re below the 50 percent line (show in red), you’d better believe they’ll soon self-correct course.
  3. Recognize. Use a weekly e-newsletter or personal emails to congratulate a handful of LOs each week on outstanding service and glowing testimonials. They won’t soon forget!

How can you learn more about creating a better customer experience and about how the customer experience impacts your company?

Find out more about STRATMOR Group’s MortgageCX program and how it is revolutionizing the CX space. Contact Mike Seminari at or schedule time on his calendar.

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