J.D. Power: Mortgage Servicer Satisfaction Plateaus as Reputation Declines

Breaking a multiyear trend of steady improvements, mortgage servicer satisfaction stalled this far in 2017, as customers have significant declines in their overall brand perceptions, according to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Primary Mortgage Servicer Satisfaction Study.

The study (http://www.jdpower.com/resource/us-primary-mortgage-servicer-satisfaction-study) said the decline in brand perceptions is driven primarily by a significant increase in customers indicating that their mortgage servicer is focused more on profit than on their customers, which could have long-term effects on future business.

“The past few years have not been easy for mortgage servicers as they’ve struggled with regulatory and market pressures, but still managed to deliver on customer satisfaction,” said Craig Martin, senior director of mortgage practice with J.D. Power, Westlake Village, Calif. “Now, as that trend starts to shift and customer satisfaction levels off, it is critical that mortgage servicers continue to balance the demands of this tough marketplace with the needs of their customers.”

Quicken Loans ranked highest among mortgage servicers for the fourth consecutive year, with a score of 840 on a 1,000-point scale, followed by Regions Mortgage (819) and Huntington National Bank (795). Showing notable improvements in this year’s study are Bank of America at 767; Nationstar Mortgage at 703; and Ditech Financial at of 694. These firms had increases of 26, 29 and 37 points, respectively.

Wells Fargo, which has suffered adverse publicity as a result of customer service issues, fell to 17th on the list with a 745 score. And Walter Investment, which owns Ditech,, recently announced it would close Ditech’s Dallas operations and would lay off at least 400 employees.

The study identified four key findings:

Onboarding as an opportunity: The first step in improving the servicing experience is ensuring effective onboarding. When onboarding satisfaction is high, customers are more likely to use the servicer’s website as their primary communications channel and submit payment via the web. They are less likely to have used a call center, experienced a problem, or paid their bill via check.

Time is money: Among all mortgage customers, 10% say their time was wasted during their most recent interaction with their mortgage servicer. Overall satisfaction drops 285 points when customers believe their time is being wasted. Among those who believe their time is wasted, 66% indicate waiting 5 minutes or more to speak with a customer service representative.

Digital becomes key to effective customer contact: The average satisfaction among those who do not use the website is 43 points lower than among those who visited their servicer’s website in the last 12 months. Satisfaction among customers visiting three or more times in the last 12 months is 789 points, compared with the industry average of 754.

Mobile satisfaction grows, but usage still lags: Mobile usage is associated with significantly higher satisfaction, compared with those who don’t use this channel (786 vs. 748, respectively), but mobile usage actually declines year over year (to 19% in 2017 from 22% in 2016).

The study measures customer satisfaction with the mortgage servicing experience in six factors: new customer orientation; billing and payment process; escrow account administration; interaction; mortgage fees; and communications. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale. The 2017 U.S. Primary Mortgage Servicing Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 7,374 mortgage servicing customers, and was fielded in March and April.