Improving Borrower Experience for Better Outcomes

DALLAS–Your borrowers are watching, says Joseph Dombrowski, Director of Product Management & Chief Mortgage Strategist with Fiserv, Brookfield, Wis.

“They are watching servicers and keeping their experiences in mind,” Dombrowski said here at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s National Mortgage Servicing Conference & Expo. “Regardless of the channel they use, they are basically correlating those experiences and using them to advance your brand–or detract from your brand. They’re talking you up if they’re happy with you, and trashing you if they’re not.”

ServicingOutcomesAnd as mortgage servicing moves into the digital age, Dombrowski said consumers appear split as to preference. Roughly four in 10 customers prefer to receive paper information; the same amount prefer electronic. Unsurprisingly, Millennials prefer electronic, he said, driving growth in that channel. Voice-assistants are now a common feature used by more than half of consumers in the past year.

“People are starting to incorporate voice assistance in their consumer lives, and are starting to incorporate them more in their business transactions,” Dombrowski said. He noted they are using voice-activated financial activity primarily to check balances, pay a bill or review recent transactions.

Dombrowski said “delighting the borrower” should be a central strategy of any mortgage servicer. “When borrowers are dissatisfied, they let others know,” he said. “But when they are happy, they also let others know. It takes 12 positive Yelp reviews to overcome one bad review.”
That ratio also applies to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Complaint Database, he said, noting the CFPB pays “special attention” to consumer complaints. CFPB complaints about servicing (limited to loan servicing, payments and escrow accounts) cost money–$275 per situation, he said.

Jeff Choi, Senior Vice President of Mortgage Servicing with Pentagon Federal Credit Union, Arlington, Va., said despite costs involved in communicating with customers, mortgage servicers should embrace the opportunity. “We need to think of new, innovative ways of communicating with our customers,” he said. “Being able to anticipate other product needs and how to address customer demands is essential to our approach.”

Choi said PenFed engages in constant customer research and feedback. “We have an Innovation Lab that helps us get new technology in place,” he said.

Consumer feedback–and employee feedback, Choi said, results in best practices. “The best feedback is what we get from our front-line employees,” he said.

John Roden, Vice President of Servicing with Colonial Savings F.A., Fort Worth, Texas, said his company is working on ways to increase and improve customer access to their accounts. “Not only is it necessary, it’s what our customers are asking for,” he said.

Dombrowski noted, however, that technology can straddle the line between “delightful” and “creepy.” “If Alexa informs me that my mortgage payment is due in two days, I would find that creepy,” he said.

“The key is serving people in the way they want to be served,” Choi said. “The customer holds all the cards in this respect, so we have to know how they want to be served…the future of our business is doing business with our customers on their terms.”