And although technology has become embedded in society, many are still unsure about using it and feel more reassured when they have someone to talk to.
With service levels suffering while lenders become swamped trying to deal with requests for mortgage payment holidays, brokers can ensure they provide an ear to any borrowers with concerns.
So, this week Mortgage Solutions is asking: ‘What can brokers do to stop borrowers from feeling isolated and excluded as they are increasingly encouraged to use digital and direct means for mortgage purposes?’
The mortgage and housing markets undoubtedly still have a lot to gain from the benefits that technology and process digitisation can and will bring.
Frustrations around the need to provide the same information more than once and for data to be rekeyed can be eased with system improvements.
Consumers increasingly expect to be able to have the chance to be kept informed through digital platforms. For example, the reassurance that your online shopping is on the way has now reached the point where you know exactly how many stops your driver has to make before they reach you.
Keeping customers aware of what is happening online is therefore likely to be something that is increasingly expected and is felt to be beneficial.
However, that cannot always replace the need for a conversation and reassurance from someone that understands the process. Buying a house and taking on the biggest debt that most of us will ever have is rather different to the purchase of the latest bestseller from your favourite author.
The current market where high demand, lender capacity and rapidly changing underwriting are at play can mean the need for updates can be even higher and being able to deal with customer concerns in the way they prefer is important.
As difficult as it can be when there may be delays and little to update, just being able to reassure the customer is important and can distinguish the service of advisers from a more faceless platform.
We’ve certainly found that customers have appreciated a phone call even when there may be little new to tell them, but it certainly helps remind them that you’re on their side.
Historically mortgage advisers have done quite well from being the go-to guy or girl within the local community by establishing and maintaining that personal connection with potential clients.
The good word spread, and recommendations flowed when the job was done well.
Business was always done face–to–face whether in the office or in the client’s own home. Networking quite often was done in the pub with a drink in one hand or on the local golf course. Quite often you would bump into your clients while out shopping.
This has always been an accepted way to build trust locally and to make the clients feel included. Many an adviser made a living this way and some still do.
Being part of a community is not dead by any means, but times have changed and business is quite often done on a non face-to-face basis these days. Online and telephone-based advice is popular but is also where a sense of exclusion or isolation can happen whether it is realised or not.
Most of our business comes from outside of the local community so our business is conducted online and via the telephone. We have looked at the client journey from start to finish ensuring that the clients not only receive outstanding service but also feel fully included during the mortgage process.
We look for ways to appeal to new customers. We understand that people do not get a sense of trust from a Google search result, so we have prioritised asking past clients for a review.
Generally, people write from the heart and that echoes the friendly service we always aim to provide. This helps new clients looking for a mortgage adviser.
Above all clients should not feel isolated or excluded as we explain everything as we go through the mortgage process.
Society has had the kind of seismic mindset shift that doesn’t come along that often, perhaps only ever following such a catastrophic and more importantly, shared, event.
Like it or not, we have changed.
People, particularly the over 50s, who didn’t previously use technology like online shopping or video calls, things that have been around for years, now see the benefits and many are loving it.
Video has long been underused by intermediaries too, I think in part because the technology was so varied in terms of platform and device compatibility.
Now, with Zoom and Teams open to all, things are very different and the mindset of brokers needs to shift too – video offers a platform to deliver a new level of understanding and experience to customers that will help no end with sales, not to mention the potential compliance benefits.
Compare the cumbersome face–to–face visit or a phone call and email with some figures typed out, to a professionally designed presentation, with animations and visuals taking customers on a journey, endorsing you and your business, explaining the level of service and products to a level that was never achievable with words or hand gestures alone.
We’re not telling, we’re showing, in a far cheaper and quicker way, all without asking customers to let strangers into their home.
When you boil it down, rapport tends to be the critical rationale for face-to-face evangelists, a benefit I think has now shrunk beyond any viable value.