Being customer-centric in the lending industry

What comes to mind when you think of applying for a loan? I'd bet you're thinking of stuffy offices, confusing lingo and stressful waiting periods filled with uncertainty. Applying for a mortgage has gained a reputation for being tedious and time-consuming, and lenders are seen as only looking out for their best interests.

That's why, when I became CEO of InterContinental Capital Group and created Own It Home Loans and Veteran's Community Home Loans, I made it my mission to shake up the mortgage industry in the best interest of homebuyers. Many of the issues I identified with lending came down to how little customer service was valued.

While other industries have embraced a customer-centric attitude, the lending industry was still behind the times in understanding how to provide clients with an experience, not just a service. At ICG and my other ventures, I have prioritized the customer experience by implementing some of the following initiatives:

Make customers comfortable

Not every customer is comfortable coming into an office, nor may they have the time or resources to do so. Applying for a loan is intimidating enough without having to go into an office and listen to long-winded explanations about your options. Genworth recommends meeting customers where they are most comfortable, sometimes meaning over the phone, video chats or even their own home.

With our commitment to communication, we're ready to meet our borrowers where and when it's most convenient for them. This also means keeping processes transparent and avoiding industry lingo when meeting with clients. For ICG, Own It Home Loans and Veteran's Choice, our criteria for qualifying is clear and our procedures are laid out on our websites.

Many clients may be too overwhelmed or uncomfortable to ask questions, especially if what you're discussing is outside of their wheelhouse. Make the effort to break down their options and any other information into terms they would understand and lay out how the process will work from your first meeting.

Utilize technology

While I have always believed that the best results come from organic efforts, not just performance research or robotic strategies, technology is our greatest asset in helping us serve customers. Consumer analysis and reporting technologies have been immensely helpful in aiding lenders with their decision-making, but it should also be used as a consumer-facing tool.

ICG's engineering team has developed advanced analytics technology that identifies the best loan and bond programs available for customers looking for cost-effective home ownership. Not only do these tools help in our decision-making (seeing who is qualified for a loan) but we utilize these advancements to work in our customers' best interests. We can easily compare different loan options to see which aligns best with a clients goals and needs.

Technology also helps us streamline the loan process, which is notorious for the many roadblocks that result in unanticipated delays. McKinsey & Company explains how technology can remove the pesky problem of data silos, when information moves slowly from one department or action to the next, by giving everyone involved access to the data (usually the loan application).

Much of the loan process is now digitized anyway, and using technology allows us to cut down on the wait times between approvals and signatures so you can close on your home faster. Technology has not replaced the human touch, but enhanced it. We can use our tools to help make the loan process even more personal, by only showing you the options that we know will work for you, and streamlining the entire approval undertaking.

Every customer counts

In the course of nearly 15 years in the financial and residential lending areas, I have learned there is no single approach to helping a client apply and qualify for a loan. Every situation is different, and every client counts.

In business, “Dunbar's number” gets thrown around a lot to justify only engaging with top customers. According to this logic, companies should put their sales and customer service efforts into the top 150 customers that bring in the best returns annually. We strongly disagree with this approach, and believe that everyone who partners with us deserves the best customer service and a chance to share their thoughts.

We value each of our customers and what they bring to the table. We build trust by paying attention to their needs, and in turn, we're able to guide them to the perfect loan option for their current situation and future needs.

Collect and apply feedback

Without collecting customer feedback, you're flying blind on what's going on inside your company and within the lending industry. Before you know it, a quarter is closing and you've yet to have a face-to-face interaction with a customer. Being able to collect feedback and touch base with clients is the best way to understand what's working and what isn't.

While Hubspot recommends sending follow up emails and setting up survey kiosks for collecting information about the consumer experience, I find that it's best for us to make the first move for checking up with clients. I believe the consumer relationship begins with a two-way conversation, and that's why I created Consumer Connect.

When we receive honest feedback, we can apply it to help you find the best package to fit your needs.

Connect with us today

Whether you've had experience with ICG or are interested in what we do, feel free to get in touch today. I created Consumer Connect to learn about the good and bad experiences you've had as a customer trying to receive a loan. I want to build trust with past clients to learn how our products helped and what we can do to improve ourselves in the future.

I hope that the direct communications I'm able to have with customers can create an even more efficient process for everyone. Your stories and experiences give me insight into the consumer process and how we can improve the mortgage industry in everyone's best interest.

Crafting a better home loans process starts with receiving honest feedback from our customers and applying changes to our systems. Connect with me today if you have something you'd like to share or contact a loan expert from InterContinental Capital Group if you're interested in applying for a mortgage or refinance loan.