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Think of any popular product or service, and it’s likely that J.D. Power has a survey to gauge satisfaction with it. If you are in the mortgage business, you may be interested in the most recent J.D. Power Mortgage Origination Study released in November 2017.

J.D. Power ranked customer experiences in loan offerings and closings, application and approval processes, onboarding, customer/lender interaction, and problem solving. Nearly 6,000 consumers responded, providing some useful yet surprising results.

Purchasing Process Slows While Satisfaction Drops

The average mortgage purchase process in 2017 took 36 days, an increase of nearly a week from the previous year. J.D. Power suggests that longer periods between initial mortgage applications and closings are a significant reason why satisfaction ratings for primary mortgage originators dropped slightly in 2017 – by 8 points on a 1,000-point scale.

Digital Use Doesn’t Translate to Digital Satisfaction

The digital revolution has reached a milestone in mortgage applications. Online and website applications hit 43% of submissions – the most frequently used submission method. That’s a huge increase from the 2016 online submission rate of 28%.

Unfortunately, the online application process isn’t resulting in increased customer satisfaction so far (or a shorter mortgage purchase process, given the above results). Satisfaction levels for online/website applicants decreased by 18 points over the previous year.

Compared to in-person mortgage applications, online applicants are less satisfied with their experience by 10 points on a 1,000-point scale.

Personal Touch Remains Important

Consumers need to feel that they have a trusted partner to help them through the mortgage process. Trust in a loan representative directly correlates to higher satisfaction levels.

Personal interaction and consideration for clients is a common thread in the three top elements that instill trust – following through with promised callbacks, sticking with the client throughout the mortgage process, and proactively keeping clients updated on their mortgage status.

Even with online applications, it is paramount to maintain a personal touch. Don’t let a false sense of efficiency lure you into practices that could drive off potential sales. Integrate digital technology into your mortgage business without letting it overtake your business. You need to make your entire organization know that the personal touch is often the key differentiator between success and failure. Obtaining a loan is a very emotional process and can be one of the biggest financial and life decisions in someone’s life. Help your customers through that process. Don’t let a simple form or computer do all the work.

Benchmark Yourself

The J.D. Power survey suggests that mortgage loan consumers are looking for the best balance of speed and personal interaction but have yet to find it. How do the survey results match your own experiences in the mortgage field?

If your satisfaction rankings stack up well, congratulations! Keep up the good work but look for areas where customer service can improve. It will pay off in a greater conversion of leads to successfully completed mortgage loans. However, be mindful of benchmarking yourself against others. Don’t do yourself injustice by comparing yourself to things which are dissimilar. Ensure it’s an apples-to-apples comparison.

If you don’t have a measure of your customer satisfaction, it’s time that you acquired one. Make some calls. Commission a survey. Get regular feedback on your customer interactions and log the results. You may think you’re doing well, but customer satisfaction surveys could show you the way to even better results.

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