Sounding a bit like an oxymoron, mortgage servicers actually improved customer service scores under COVID-19, according to the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Primary Mortgage Servicer Satisfaction Study,SM. Last year’s survey exemplified gaps in customer service, with both call center activities and online access highlighted as challenges for mortgage servicers. This year’s study again called out latent digital capabilities but focused more on shifting experiences between bank and non-bank servicers. The primary takeaway stemming from this year’s data is that the pandemic has definitely given mortgage servicers a boost in satisfaction sentiments as customers seeking relief have relied on their servicer to navigate forbearance and foreclosure avoidance.
In the corresponding press release, J.D. Power commented that improved satisfaction gains were predominantly motivated by at-risk borrowers in forbearance. Their director of consumer lending intelligence, Jim Houston, added, “However, as we look at post-pandemic customer behaviors and responses of low-risk customers, we see that lift in satisfaction may be short-lived. In fact, despite the attention on relief programs, nearly one-fifth of current mortgage customers have had no interaction with their servicer during the past year. Mortgage servicers will really need to up their customer engagement games as the marketplace stabilizes.” So where does this leave mortgage servicers going forward?
Solidifying ongoing borrower satisfaction can start with a look at current customer perspectives. The basis for J.D. Power’s annual survey evaluates customer satisfaction in terms of customer interaction, communications, billing and payment processing, escrow account administration, and new customer orientation. Pulling responses from over 8,000 borrowers that either refinanced or originated a new loan within the past 12 months, this year’s study highlighted the following findings:
- Non-bank servicers saw a considerable gain in overall satisfaction. With scores that increased by 17 points, non-bank servicers are gaining on their bank-affiliated competitors who only saw a four-point rise in overall satisfaction.
- Borrowers in forbearance gave the highest scores for satisfaction. A trend that is not likely to continue, at-risk customer satisfaction increased 15 points, with low-risk borrower satisfaction declining by one point.
- Satisfaction scores for bank-affiliated servicers were inflated by non-mortgage services. Customers with bank products had overall mortgage servicing satisfaction scores that were 55 points higher than mortgage-only customers.
- Cumbersome digital experiences and lagging self-service capabilities drop scores. Barely more than a third of borrowers surveyed found the information they needed within two webpages. Visiting more than two pages dropped overall satisfaction scores by 55 points!
As servicers continue to address the impact of COVID-19 relief provisions, maintaining borrower satisfaction and engagement could prove to be a challenge. Surveyed borrowers that felt compelled to leave their current servicer cited several top reasons for a departure, including access to improved customer service and enhanced self-serve capabilities. This supports the need for servicers to expand digital functionality and self-serve access to processes and products, subsequently ensuring satisfaction through innovative engagement and education.
Taking the lead in providing engagement and education in a digital self-serve format, HomeBinder delivers a unique borrower experience that extends beyond a basic servicing relationship. Providing a centralized home management platform, HomeBinder collaborates with the lender or servicer to offer a distinctive branded binder that can be given to the homeowner at the time of closing, servicing transfer, forbearance exit, or even upon approval of a loss mitigation plan. The advantage to the servicer is that engagement is ongoing throughout the life of the property, requiring little to no intervention from your staff. The benefits to the homeowner are extensive, including a digital maintenance plan with regular reminders, educational information on how to manage and care for their home, electronic storage of all related household documents, and so much more. Each time the homeowner accesses the HomeBinder platform, they are reminded of their valued relationship with their lender/servicer. HomeBinder is a genuine business differentiator, delivering a personalized “gift” that will improve borrower satisfaction, increase engagement, foster repeat business, and inherently generate referrals.
To find out how your organization can leverage pandemic customer satisfaction and create a “Client for Life” experience, visit www.homebinder.com, contact us directly at 800.377.6915, or Book a Demo today!
HomeBinder ● Expected by Homeowners ● Driven by Lenders