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Journey Mapping Improves the Mortgage Customer Experience

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Design thinking is enabling mortgage lenders and servicers an opportunity to revolutionize the mortgage customer experience. Companies around the globe are leveraging design thinking to stay relevant and meet expectations of today’s consumers.

While lenders often re-engineer processes, bolt-on technology to systems, and even integrate new rules or requirements, it is critical to consider the customer experience. Customers are demanding that we think about processes from their perspective, and as consumers, we demand the same thing.

Now is the time for mortgage lenders to incorporate design thinking as a part of the customer experience strategy and use as a means for understanding and exceeding customer expectations. Whether you’re a processor, loan officer, realtor, or operational executive, you have the ability to positively transform the mortgage customer experience by taking an outside-in view of the entire process.

Customer Experience Design is a Key Market Differentiator
Design thinking is a way of engineering business processes to work smarter. It’s also the methodology that underpins customer experience (CX) design, which is fast becoming a key market differentiator for successful brands. Studies show companies that invest in CX record up to five times faster revenue growth than CX laggards, and that differential in performance means demand for design thinking services is growing rapidly.

The customer experience is predicted to become the main differentiator between brands by 2020, more than price or product. The challenge this represents for all brands is transforming their traditional customer engagement and back-office business processes to meet rising demand for 24/7 omnichannel access to brands and automated, self-service customer interactions.

Design thinking is a means to keep up with this lightning-fast pace of change, and deliver end-to-end process transformation. This is the only effective way to maintain market share against disruptor brands, and remain competitive despite the ever-increasing customer choice and need for instant gratification offered by the digital world.

The changing digital business ecosystem has placed a premium on design thinking, and that’s why Sutherland has built a global design thinking practice to complement its process transformation expertise. Our labs in San Francisco and London demonstrate that design thinking isn’t a fad, a trend, or a new industry mantra, but it’s a way of making a difference in the customer experience.

Customer Journey Mapping Improves the Mortgage Customer Experience
Customer journey mapping is already having a positive impact on meeting expectations of today’s consumers. Sutherland harnesses data insights and the expertise gained from multiple industries to help mortgage companies identify opportunities in their process and develop real solutions. Sutherland tailors customer journey mapping for each client, from targeted consultations to full-blown immersive projects.

Sutherland recently partnered with a large U.S. mortgage lender who sought to learn about customers who canceled or withdrew their loans. In today’s market, the cost of acquiring a new customer is significantly more than retaining one. As such, the mortgage lender wanted to learn from experiences of past customers to reduce canceled and withdrawn rates in the future. Sutherland conducted an all-day lab session to learn more about the lender’s challenge and break down processes that could contribute to customers canceling or withdrawing their loans.

Following the lab's session, Sutherland’s design research team selected a sample size consisting of many of the lender’s current and former customers who either canceled or withdrew their loans from the lender. Meetings were conducted with the customers in the comfort of their own homes. The in-home visits were well-received by the customers and allowed them to be pleasantly surprised by the amount of empathy exhibited by the lender.

The customers were willing to share not only the details of their experience but expectations they had in working with their lender that may or may not have been carried out in the service they received. Customers shared that they were disappointed with the application process, confused and frustrated with lack of visibility into the status of their application, and even that time often felt as though it were standing still due to lack of momentum and communication.

The customer interviews also captured what an ideal experience would look and feel like to the borrowers. Customers expressed interest in a peace of mind in the process, to feel as though they’re winning, and that they are taking the right steps in a fiscally responsible life.

Sutherland’s technical staff and design experts synthesized the customer feedback, tested solutions, and delivered a long list of game-changing recommendations within the next week. Ideas from the customers were also categorized into the following areas for improvement: relationship building, communication, setting expectations, understanding motivations, and providing customers with a sense of progress. The mortgage lender accepted all ideas from their customers and are putting them into action today, to win the game of improving the borrower experience.

Mobile App Drives 30 Percent Reduction in Cycle Time
After completing several sessions with lenders about improving their customer experience, many expressed a need for improved communication in the lending process. Sutherland took this as an opportunity to develop a mobile app. The app enables borrowers, lenders, realtors, and processors to connect in real-time with full visibility into the status of the loan. With the ability to sit atop any loan origination system (LOS), the application can be quickly installed, and all involved parties so they can stay in sync with their mobile devices. Borrowers can quickly upload required documents and communicate with their processor in real-time. One mortgage lender leveraging the app has seen a 30 percent reduction in cycle time and expects to see an improvement in customer satisfaction scores.

Why is Design Thinking Important?
Increasingly, consumers are benchmarking their mortgage experience with other transactions in their life such as signing up for a credit card or buying a product on Amazon from their smartphones. We owe it to our customers and ourselves to gain an external view and emotionally connect the consumer to the experience in a positive manner.

Regardless of your role in the mortgage customer experience, design thinking is critical for your organization. You should consider customer journey mapping as a tool to deep dive and fully understand the mortgage customer experience. We all dream of delivering world-class service. Now is the time to make that dream a reality and revolutionize the mortgage customer experience. Evaluate new opportunities and bring in experts with unbiased viewpoints to offer guidance along the way.

About Author: Kim Hoffman

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Kim Hoffman, CMB, AMP, is the global head of mortgage operations at Sutherland where she is responsible for end-to-end support for domestic and international mortgage clients. Prior to joining Sutherland in 2015, Kim was most recently chief operations officer for Morgan Stanley’s residential lending. During her more than 25-year mortgage banking career, she has managed large-scale mortgage operations for such organizations as The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), American Business Financial Services and Fleet Financial Group, and Chrysler Financial Services. Her extensive background includes end-to-end mortgage operations, underwriting, credit risk, loan administration, servicing, default management, compliance, process engineering, secondary marketing, and loan origination.

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