In the boom times many consumer services, especially those in the financial sector, got away with treating customers in a shabby way. But with the banking collapse, consumers woke up to the fact that their interests were coming a poor second to the goal of quick profit.
With consumer trust at an all-time low, and hampered by negative balance sheets, stringent regulation, and legacy IT systems, innovation in financial services dried up during the recession years.
Meanwhile, tech giants Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook, were perfecting the marriage of technology with great customer experience.
The UK’s financial sector has finally started to follow suit. But, this is more fundamental than designing an app. You can attend as many courses and seminars on business as you like, but I think you would do better to take a leaf out of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ book and put a technology enabled, seamless customer experience at the absolute centre of your business.
At Habito, we saw that the biggest problem with mortgages was the experience of getting one. We’re trying to solve how to get the best mortgage, quicker, easier and at no cost for our customers.
Channel those values
So, how do we channel empathetic values through to our customer’s experience?
First and foremost, we are free. We want to add value, not fees. For the same reason, our mortgage advisers aren’t paid commission so they have no incentive to provide partisan advice.
Our chat-bot provides customer service 24/7 and the whole process is digital. Our digital mortgage adviser is a step-by-step process that flows like a natural conversation to show people what they could borrow based on market products. Documents can be uploaded to our website, then we have a team of expert mortgage advisers who can lend a human hand.
To make all this happen internally, we meet daily to create a forum for new ideas to flourish and we’ve littered the office with whiteboards displaying work that anyone in the team can comment on. Our website is in a constant state of development and we are nimble enough that changes can be made in minutes (for small tweaks) or hours (to add new features).
Finally, everyone in the company right up to Dan, our CEO, volunteers twice a month for a customer experience shift. We are adamant that this is the best way for our team to empathise with our customers and get a real feel for what their mortgage journey is like.
It goes without saying that we live in a digital society and consumers look online first for the best place to spend their hard-earned cash and precious time.
The proliferation of company review platforms like Trustpilot means that online reputations are hugely influential and can literally make or break a business.
Financial services has always been in the business of trust. But, like all other consumer businesses, we are also now in the business of experience. For the future of the mortgage industry, there is no other way.