Jason Wilborn of Accenture Credit Services: Tech Dreams

Jason Wilborn is Delivery Manager with Accenture Credit Services, Rancho Cordova, Calif.

Jason Wilborn

A while back, I attended a technology mortgage conference. The conference was fantastic, with lots of engaging conversation regarding new and emerging technology, including AI (Artificial Intelligence), OCR (Optical Character Recognition), Appraisal Bias tools, automation, process workflows, reporting and analytics. If you can think of it, someone was talking about it.

The conference was a clinic on what the future of the mortgage industry might look like. During day two of the conference, I was listening to a panel of industry executives when it occurred to me something incredibly important was missing from the conversation topics. The all-important intangible component, the dream of home ownership. The dream you ask? More on what I mean in just a minute.

Imagine that we are going on our first date (just humor me). We have met cordially a few times, exchanged glances from across the room, had several great conversations and finally I muster the courage to ask you out on a date. Being old-fashioned, I bring you flowers on our first date. Roses, yellow ones. You see them, and while the gesture is appreciated, you politely decline. Little did I know that you are allergic to roses and yellow is your least favorite color. Strike one on me.

We sit down to dinner, chat some, and exchange pleasantries. When the food arrives, I dig into my extra spicy garlic wings. As chicken wings are not the most elegant item to eat, sauce, garlic and picked over chicken bones soon litter my eating area. You order something much less conspicuous and try to talk during dinner, but alas due to the coordination required to navigate a good dish of wings, the conversation does not go well. Strike 2.

At this point, it is not going all that swell so I attempt to pick up the tab, but you insist we split it. I pick it up anyway thinking that is the right thing to do. No surprise to anyone, it is strike 3 and the relationship is over before it really had a chance.

OK rewind…………let’s go about this a different way. Before our first date, I actually try and get to know you. With genuine curiosity, I ask questions: favorite flowers, favorite color, what is your idea of a perfect first date, what do you like, dislike, tell me more! Our first date comes and imagine that – it goes fantastically. I invested the time to get to know the person I was interested in and now the opportunity of a relationship is possible.

Now back to mortgage. I promise, this is all related. When we take applications for a prospective customer, we learn SO MUCH about them. We discover their career, military service, where they live, age, income, whether they have kids (and their ages), marital status, credit profile, assets, pretty much everything but their blood type. The opportunity to create and build a relationship with this person is massive and so obvious.

Why then, at the tech conference I was attending was no one talking about using technology to build relationships with customers? We know practically everything about the people we are talking to, yet for whatever reason we think OCR extraction from an appraisal is a more important conversational topic. While I understand the goal is to make the process better/faster/easier for both the industry and the customer, is that the best and most effective way to build long term relationships? Effectiveness of process only gets you so far in providing a world-class customer experience.

If I told you a 25-day total cycle time verse a 35-day cycle time would not win you a deeper appreciation from your customer base, would you rethink your tech investment?

Over the course of years, having managed a pipeline that closed tens of thousands of loans and with thousands of customer responses to surveys, I found customers do not respond more favorably to their overall experience once cycle times fall below 28 days and vice versa, once cycle times go over 45 days the chance of achieving a high satisfied customer is diminished. Going faster, more clinical, and efficient itself has diminishing returns on customer service.

Why, because speed to close does not in and of itself create a connection. Can it help facilitate satisfaction in the process? Absolutely, but does it make someone feel valued and appreciated? No, it does not. Does a quick and efficient wedding ceremony make it more memorable? How about dating 😊? Seeing a friend for the first time in years? All these moments have some element of planning and yet it is not the efficiency of the moment that counts, it is the connection of the moment. Helping someone with a mortgage transaction is no different. It is the American dream mentioned earlier; our aspiration to obtain a home where we create family memories and build our sanctuary from the outside world.

Let us not forget home ownership is, for most people, the largest and most emotionally charged financial transaction they will make in their lifetime, and its process leaves a lasting impression. As a person who runs delivery, I appreciate a smooth and efficient process as much as anyone. However, the mortgage industry at its core is based in human connection (that’s why we have resisted technology for so long in the first place). In our quest for efficiency, let us not forget the part that we excel at. The opportunity to build this experience is at our fingertips, let’s take advantage. The mortgage processhas significant human emotion attached to it. These are our homes, our investments, the place we will throw our children’s birthday parties, our sanctuary, we make memories in our homes that become part of the fabric of who we are, it is our personal little piece of life that we own. It means so much to our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

I hear the phrase “technology with human in the loop” process, but really, it is “human with technology in the loop.” Using technology to help our people create connections with our customers was a missing topic at that convention, but it does not have to be that way. There are human/tech solutions today that can be leveraged to make the customer feel valued, appreciated, and heard. Where it is not just a transaction but an interactive relationship where we couple technology with information to give us the opportunity to treat the customer in a way that connects with them.

(Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect policies of the Mortgage Bankers Association, nor do they connote an MBA endorsement of a specific company, product or service. MBA NewsLink welcomes your submissions. Inquiries can be sent to Michael Tucker, Editor, at mtucker@mba.org.)