Survey Highlights Importance of Customer Service

If you doubt the importance of customer service, the results of a new survey will definitely be of interest.

Whether you currently place more emphasis on service or pricing, you will have some new insights to help develop future marketing campaigns.

According to the recently conducted study by the Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, one-third of consumers are “willing to pay more for a mortgage if it comes with superior customer service.”

The study addressed the loan application process, homeownership confidence, purchase versus refinance and related areas. It asked participants such questions as “What is the current view toward homeownership? “How have recent changes in the mortgage industry impacted the application experience?” “What factors are most important in the mortgage process?” and “Would customers be willing to pay more for a mortgage?”

Customer Service Valued

The survey noted that 34 percent of the respondents would be willing to pay more for superior customer service, while 66 percent aren’t overly influenced by exceptional service and generally would rather pay less for their loan.

The primary age group for “willing to pay more” is 18-35; those who are more concerned with pricing are in the over 50 category.

Survey participants who said they would be willing to pay more consider convenience, access, advisory, trust, speed and predictability to be especially important. They value “customer relationships” and frequently like “to be treated as a preferred customer.

While the survey doesn’t state how much more consumers would be willing to pay, their responses emphasize the importance of customer service.

Of course, loan originators could interpret the findings in one of two ways. If your main point of distinction is low overall pricing, it seems that two-thirds of customers appreciate your approach.  On the other hand, if you stress customer service, you know this appeals to at least one-third of prospects.

Whatever your emphasis, the survey underscores the value of customer service. At the very least, this should prompt an evaluation of your current customer service level and how it could be enhanced.

Preferences

When asked to rate the most important factors in the overall mortgage selection and application process, Cost, Trust and Customer Service were considered. Eighty-four percent of the respondents indicated that low cost was important.

In the “trust” category, 46 percent said that trust in a financial institution was important, 42% noted the importance of trust in their mortgage advisor, and 15 percent said they appreciate being treated as a “unique customer.”

There were a series of factors evaluated in “customer service.” Forty-six percent said time-to-close was critical, 43 percent emphasized that understanding the application process was important, 42 percent valued the “simplicity” of completing the application, 34 percent stressed communicating the application status, 19 percent said “simplicity of product” was critical, 15 percent said having a “range of product” was essential and 11 percent cited education as important.

Dislikes

Also important was the review of customer dislikes, which they referred to as a “painful aspect” of the application process.

When asked to evaluate the cost, trust and service factors from a “room for improvement” perspective, 66 percent of the survey respondents said they view high cost as a negative.

In the trust category, 26 percent said untrustworthy advice was bothersome, 21 percent noted a lack of trust in the institution was a problem and 11 percent said that not being treated as a unique customer was a “painful” aspect of the application process.

Fifty-six percent of the survey participants indicated that slow execution was a negative element of customer service, 32 percent said that being difficult to communicate with (the originator) was a painful part of the process and 31 percent confirmed that being unable to track the application status was a dislike. Other factors cited were difficulty completing application requirements (28 percent), complexity of products (27 percent), limited product options (12 percent) and no credit counseling (four percent).

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