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I recently got to watch my four-year-old daughter, dressed up as a turkey, sing songs about Thanksgiving with all her little turkey classmates. I was impressed! It’s no small feat to get four-year-olds to stand still, much less remember the words, motions and melodies to seven or eight songs. It turns out they’ve been learning and practicing at school for months. This got me thinking about our current mortgage environment. What if our response to the prolonged market downturn became less about waiting it out, and more about learning and improving, so we can showcase our talents when the opportune time presents itself? Maybe we can learn a thing or two about learning from these little turkeys. Our question this month: What are the biggest customer experience lessons we’re learning in 2023 and how can we parlay them into success in 2024?
Why is continued learning and growth so vital to our success? As a child, I remember asking my parents why it was so important to go to school. My dad told me it was to “learn how to learn,” which to me meant that the effort, perseverance and problem-solving skills were the true benefits of education. My mother, on the other hand, told me the importance of education was to develop a deep love of learning, which I didn’t understand at the time, but finally got it when I started being able to choose my own learning path. Looking back, both were 100 percent right.
What does that mean for us in the mortgage industry? We need to be learners and doers, not just survivors. We need to be active in the downtime, building relationships, gaining product knowledge, reading books and listening to podcasts, always in pursuit of self-betterment and excellence in customer care. And we need to do it because we love it. We’re all grownups — we get to choose what we do for a paycheck. We need to connect to the things that make us proud to be in the mortgage business and find ways to kindle that passion…that or choose an exit ramp.
So, here are the top three customer-experience-related lessons we’ve been learning alongside our MortgageCX clients this year:
Lesson 1: Growing a purchase-centric business cannot be done overnight. The lenders who are being consumed by the downturn realized too late that quick-fix revenue strategies like recruiting high-performing loan officers and paying big bonuses isn’t very cost-effective. Just as the little singing turkeys needed months to prepare for their concert, building a purchase-centric culture is a long and labored undertaking. It involves a heightened interest in creating deep relationships and providing a delightful customer experience from end to end. The best time to start was two years ago; the next best time is today. Regardless of where you’re at, the sooner you dive headlong into daily purchase-centric activities, the better off you’ll be, whether you’re in a good market or bad.
Lesson 2: Customer experience does not end when the loan funds. One of the biggest missed opportunities for revenue in today’s market is that of repeat business mined from the lender’s servicing portfolio. The percentage of customers who return to their original lender for their next loan is a dismal 18 percent, but it could be much higher with proper continued outreach and the assignment of a personal contact. Best-in-class lenders identify opportunities and delegate them to the original loan officer for follow-up, yielding upwards of 60 percent retention.
Lesson 3: Borrowers are feeling more pain than we think. Lenders have been wrapped up so much in their own low-volume, low-revenue pain that many have forgotten (or lacked the capacity) to show empathy to their borrowers, who are not only facing harsh market conditions like higher home prices, higher rates and low housing inventory, but in 55 percent of borrowing experiences, they’re also facing issues that douse the flame of advocacy and loyalty. Now, more than ever, we need to measure and eradicate miscues that are costing referrals and repeat business. Lenders who measure deeply are feeling a lot less pain these days than the ones who don’t.
Here are a few ways you can parlay these CX lessons into success in 2024:
1. Use Testimonials to Recruit Referral Partners: The number one most impactful use of testimonials has nothing to do with Google search or word-of-mouth referrals. Rather, encourage loan officers (LOs) to put their testimonials to use by sharing them with would-be referral partners (every time you get a new one). It’s a great reason to reach out and eventually, the referral partners start to build a perception of the LO that they’re active and well-liked.
2. Stay in Touch: This is especially important in today’s higher-rate environment, where borrowers will be looking to refinance as soon as there’s a one-to-two-point dip in rates. Whether your company is servicing the loan or not, it literally pays to keep in touch with your past borrowers.
3. Take [some of] the Pain Away: Keep in mind, staying in touch only works as a strategy if you give the borrower a pain-free experience the first go-around. Pain free could be defined as guiding them through the loan process without any of these missteps. If you do, you can count on an NPS of 97, a guaranteed raving, devoted fan who will give you word-of-mouth praise and referrals.
If you’d like to discuss STRATMOR’s MortgageCX program in more detail, call me at the number below or find time on my calendar to set up a free consultation.
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