Make Meaningful Customer Connections When You Can’t Meet Face to Face
By: Daniel Akiva
June 1, 2020
By:Daniel Akiva
June 1, 2020

Make Meaningful Customer Connections When You Can’t Meet Face to Face

Face-to-face meetings have traditionally been the best way to develop trust between Originators and borrowers. However, social distancing has thrown that option out the window. This new reality, coupled with the fact that borrowers in recent years were already requesting more personal connections during the mortgage lending process, means Originators have to be more creative to connect with customers.

Now is the time for Originators to leverage technology-powered communications to continue connecting with borrowers in the era of remote everything. With the right digital mortgage tools, Originators can deliver the level of outreach, service, and personal touch that borrowers want, both now and in the future.

Here’s how Originators can make meaningful customer connections when they can’t meet their borrowers face to face.

Communicate With Borrowers More Than 5 Times

In 2019, Ellie Mae released a study on Originator / borrower relationships. One key finding was that Originators tend to overestimate how well they’re communicating with their customers.

(Note: The numbers cited in this article are from that Ellie Mae study, unless stated otherwise.)

Specifically… 

  • While 75 percent of Originators felt that their current level of communication was sufficient, only 45 percent of borrowers felt that their Originator was attentive and communicative enough during the lending process.

     

  • 38 percent of borrowers recall being contacted between one and five times during the lending process, but a majority indicated that they wanted even more outreach.

The takeaway: if you’re on the lending side of things, you should probably be reaching out to customers more often. Per the study’s findings, five separate contacts during the lending process should be your baseline.

But communication isn’t only a numbers game. To build trust, it’s also important to have personalized interactions with each borrower. To do that…

  • Ask for the best way(s) to reach each borrower you work with (phone, text, email) to increase your chances of getting a response.

  • Reach out with purpose. If part of a form is unfinished, for example, ask why and if there are any questions.

  • Follow up on personal details that borrowers have shared and strive to have genuine conversations.

Having regular, meaningful conversations builds the foundation for strong customer connections.

Request the Technology That Will Enable an End-to-End Digital Mortgage Experience

Even before COVID-19, borrowers wanted more digital options in the mortgage experience:

  • 50 percent of borrowers choose their lender based on whether they offer an online application.

  • 70 percent of homebuyers prefer a more digital process when closing on a loan.

Now that most borrowers (and Originators) are stuck at home, you need to have the right tools to handle the mortgage lending process remotely so that customers can have a great experience without visiting your office. If you don’t, you risk losing them: 57 percent of customers move to competitors that offer a better customer experience.

If your organization isn’t already using an end-to-end digital mortgage solution, talk to your supervisor about how to make this happen. With the right mortgage tech, you can remotely… 

  • Perform credit checks.
  • Calculate DTI.
  • Run AUS.
  • Request appraisals.
  • Send disclosures.
  • Obtain e-consent.

Mortgage tech also makes borrowers’ lives easier. Specifically, it lets borrowers…

  • Apply online.
  • Make requests for quotes, information, and help from a digital portal.
  • Upload documents securely.
  • E-sign important forms.

Communicate these benefits to decision makers at your organization and explain how a digital mortgage solution can help you connect with customers better when you’re unable to meet face to face.

Respond to Borrowers in a Day or Less

A recent study by J.D. Power found that customer satisfaction declines sharply for every day that a mortgage loan inquiry goes unanswered. The timeliness of your response is even more important now that people don’t have the comfort of being able to ask a question in person. 

Aim to get back to borrowers in a day or less. While this doesn’t necessarily mean completing a request in 24 hours, it does mean letting borrowers know that you’ve received their inquiry and describing what you will do to resolve the issue.

In addition, make sure to offer customers as many ways to connect with you as possible, whether that’s through an online portal, email, or text, so long as you’re checking these lines of communications regularly.

Reach Out to Borrowers After the Loan Has Closed

While new home sales fell 15.4 percent from February to March, demand for refinances remains high, thanks to favorable interest rates. But in 2019, 82 percent of homeowners who refinanced did so with a different lender than the one they got their primary mortgage with. 

One way to limit this turnover is by reaching out to borrowers after they’ve closed on their mortgage. Doing so will strengthen your existing relationships, which gives you a higher chance of keeping a customer’s business, should they choose to refinance down the road.

In the shorter term, it may also help you win referrals.

Use Technology to Maintain Customer Connections for the Foreseeable Future

No one knows how long things will remain the way they are. In order for Originators to continue supporting their customers during the era of COVID-19, they must regularly communicate with borrowers, make the case for more customer-friendly technology, respond to inquiries within 24 hours, and stay in touch with borrowers after closing. 

Following these steps will help Originators continue making customer connections until meeting face to face becomes possible again.

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