The majority of homebuyers, especially Millennials, do extensive research online and on their mobile devices before making any purchase — especially for something as large as a home. According to the National Association of Realtors, 89% of new home shoppers use a mobile search engine at the onset and throughout their research.
While many lenders are jumping on the trend to incorporate new and better technology into their customer experience, they are often ignoring the key reasons why the technology is important and therefore missing the mark in implementation.
While many assume mobile technology is all about efficiency, it’s also about building a relationship. Millennials (and all buyers) hope to deepen connections with their mortgage advisors and improve their knowledge about their purchase through the use of mobile apps and technology-based communication.
Here are five reasons why mobile technology should be key to every lender’s strategy:
1. Buyers want personalization.
As an industry-leading study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) points out, personalization is the most important influencer of customers having a positive interaction with loan officers (42%), with strong communication (26%) and knowledgeable (18%) being important aspects of their experience. Personalization during the buying process means engaging with customers in preferred ways (i.e. digitally) and by reaching out and making the customer feel special (closing gifts, cards).
In an interview with Kelly Zitlow, a branch manager at Cherry Creek Mortgage, she states “[females] in particular like to have accessible information that is responsive and can be communicated in different ways…” Understanding how to personalize to your audience is important to establishing trust. Often, that personalization can occur efficiently and effectively through the use of technology or simply communicating digitally in the formats your customers prefer. Loan officers should be aware of how they can best communicate their message in a way that connects personally with their customers.
2. Buyers want relationship.
PwC summarized the engagement needs during various touchpoints in the buying process well, noting that all customers “want the convenience of digital at different stages, but when complexities arise, they want someone by their side.” Loan officers should remind themselves that their customers will remember the people they work with during the buying process, and the personal connections they build, much more so than any rate or mortgage product.
Ultimately, people do business with people. Despite the false narrative that Millennials only want technology, lenders will remain competitive over the next few years if they focus on strategies to build and sustain long-term relationships with today’s young and diverse buyers. Consumers want technology to enhance the relationship and improve the communication experience, not to get rid of either.
For example, in an interview with Sean Herrero from Commerce Home Mortgage, he states that he uses video to improve his relationships and build trust with borrowers. He was hesitant like most to begin using video, as it can be difficult to watch yourself on-screen, but he explains that it’s well worth the effort. Borrowers want to feel good about who they are working with — whether that is an individual or a brand. Getting personal and authentic is key to winning business with young buyers. Using video not only engages your audience, but Herrero shares “people can connect with who I am.” (Full interview here)
3. Buyers want education.
Millennial consumers are heavy researchers, and they expect their loan officers to be their guides through the purchasing process. PwC identified that customers “expect mortgage education (through webcasts, in-person events, and the lender website) to be a part of their experience.” Lenders can better utilize technology, social media, and various vendor solutions to leverage their expertise to build a strong reputation and bring in leads.
Top producer Chong Yi, of Apex Home Loans, focuses his borrower experience and brand on financial literacy. He says that many people, especially Millennials and diverse segments, view debt as a bad thing, but Yi views his role as their advisor to help his customers understand and evaluate the investment. Loan officers would benefit greatly from focusing their marketing and branding efforts around building a reputation as a trusted advisor.
4. Buyers want transparency and options.
Today’s borrowers want to make informed and empowered decisions. According to an HBR article, the key to gaining a sale in today’s marketplace is making decisions simple and helping buyers “confidently navigate the purchase journey.” Buyers want to easily navigate and understand information about the company or product, they want to know whether or not they can trust the information, and lastly, they want to easily weigh their options.
Top producer Dan Keller follows this exact formula for success with his clients. In an interview with Dave Savage. Keller explains how he walks his prospects through a simple and consistent path to understanding the mortgage process and their options every time. First, he has an educational blog where he hosts a simple packet of information that serves as a guide through the process and their work with him, including where he sources his information/expertise. Secondly, he builds trust through education and third-party reviews. Keller states that 27% of his business last year came from his blog and Yelp. Finally, when he meets with his customers, they trust his data when he explains their options through a total cost analysis.
5. Buyers want convenience.
Simply put, buyers are shopping on their mobile devices and want their lenders to be there too. According to PwC, 49% of customers are curious about how mobile apps can assist them in streamlining the mortgage process, and three out of five would like their lender to offer a mobile app. Lenders have an opportunity to leverage technology to improve efficiency, convenience and customer service for consumers. As an added benefit to lenders, mobile technology and communication improves productivity significantly, often saving time and resources.
We recently released the industry’s first comprehensive report of all the top mobile apps for homebuyers at every stage of the purchasing process, so that lenders can know how to communicate with buyers using leading apps and make strong recommendations for improving the consumer experience through mobile technology (from finding the right home to making smart financial decisions). Download the free report here.
In an interview with Rick Sharga, chief marketing officer of Ten-X, formerly auction.com, he shares his perspective on companies who are successful in today’s environment, stating “[Millennials] would like to do a transaction any time they’d like, anywhere they happen to be, on any computing device they happen to prefer… Companies who successfully service this audience in the future will have to enable Millennials to get to your products and services online, on-demand.” (Watch interview clip here).