The customer journey has changed considerably in recent times and the result is that we need to build a bigger picture to better understand what a borrower wants now, and in the future.
Some 1,082 borrowers took part in a survey by Computershare, which posed the question: “Other than low interest rates, costs and the terms and conditions of a mortgage, what’s the most important factor in choosing a lender?”
Unsurprisingly customer service remained the top priority:
- 42% of respondents chose being able to speak to someone when needed;
- more than one in five (21%) selected online account management;
- 8% said a high level of support if in financial difficulty was the most important;
- 6% prioritised finding a lender with a reputation for financial success;
- and just 1% would be most likely to choose a provider with a reputation for technological success.
Recognising what borrowers want also remains integral to the success of any intermediary business. This helps in attracting new clients while also addressing the sometimes thorny problem of client retention.
Retention is an issue which has been waxed lyrical about for many years; although it’s fair to say that this was not always something which lenders and intermediaries paid very much attention to in the past.
Looking back towards the late 20th and early 21st century, due to limited lines of communication and minimal information-gathering tools, it could – and probably should – have been that bit easier. However, this also incorporated a period in which levels of new business were so abundant that there wasn’t the necessity to develop more effective retention strategies.
Post-credit crunch this is certainly no longer the case. In the modern mortgage environment the need for a more holistic advice process and ongoing retention strategy is more apparent than ever.
As outlined in the data, the importance of having contact with a specialist has long been a feather in an intermediary’s cap. And this will not change, although the increasing prominence of online account management does underline a capacity for borrowers to take some control over their financials.
It was also interesting that only 1% opted for a provider with a reputation for the successful implementation of technology.
Technological reputation may not immediately sing out as a priority for borrowers; however we all realise its importance for the intermediary market. Especially when it comes to engagement, information gathering, processing and tracking.
Lenders and intermediaries have lots in common, in so far as we both want to embed long-term relationships with our customers.
In order to do so we have to constantly interact with new and existing customers in ways which best suit them. Not to mention having the ability to provide initial support when taking out a mortgage and in meeting a range of ongoing needs.
Our business practices have to evolve with the market amid ever increasing competition. This is no easy task, but getting closer to our customers and clients and better understanding what they really want has to be a continual quest for the industry as a whole.