Customer engagement is a hot topic, with many companies now adding “customer experience” directors and other such roles to their ranks. But what does it mean to “engage” a borrower?
In basic terms, engagement describes participation. But, for loan servicers, that means interacting with the borrower on their terms. With the right tools and resources, borrowers can self-service many of their account needs – while still feeling well-taken care of.
Let Borrowers Take Control
Traditionally, engagement activities have been telephone conversations. Borrowers and customer service representatives (CSRs) connected via call centers during prescribed days and times. But today’s borrowers want to interact with their accounts on their own terms, often without speaking to a single person.
Borrowers expect to have 24/7 access to account data, statements, online payment plans, escrow analysis, payoff quotes and more. And they want to take action, on whatever day and time they please. Let them.
Engaged borrowers can take a lot of work off servicers’ shoulders because they seek information and answer their questions independently using the servicers’ tools. Well-presented and accessible information can help borrowers do all the work themselves – and still feel connected to the lender.
Using technology, many important transactions can be completed without the servicer’s action or intervention. If borrowers learn to help themselves early on, their self-sufficiency can carry over into more intensive areas of loan servicing, such as default. Ideally, borrowers will only engage an agent at points where one-on-one interaction is necessary.
Engagement as an Advantage
Engaged borrowers typically generate more data. They opt-in, self-report and seek education. Using that information, lenders can create offers that align with a borrower’s behavior, account activity, and communications preferences.
For example, a borrower who has been in the same home for more than a decade has opted-in to email communications, and has been reading product information on the servicer’s website may be receptive to offers for new loan products, like a home equity loan.
Tailored offers – combined with a positive, engaging loan experience – put the lender at an advantage for earning additional business. In a 2017 Fiserv Expectations & Experiences survey of consumer trends, 74% of respondents said prior experience with a lender had a moderate to a great deal of influence on future loan decisions.
Guiding borrowers toward engagement – and self-sufficiency – should start early in a relationship and continue throughout the lifecycle of a loan. Here are 4 ways servicers can support borrower engagement throughout the relationship:
- Potential borrowers, particularly millennials, want a lot of information. Lenders should make information easy to find, access, and understand in order to create early, positive interactions with their brand.
- Welcome new borrowers with timely, well-written, and relevant communications. Use the opportunity to set the tone for the relationship and to guide borrowers toward desired behaviors, such as opting into automatic drafts or registering for an online account.
- Lenders should integrate all of their borrower communication channels with their system of record in real time, including chatbots, apps, and text messaging. Account information that’s available to CSRs should match what’s available on an app or website. Otherwise, a disparity of information could cause confusion and erode trust.
- Borrowers will need live support at some point during their loan, either through phone or a chat tool. When that time comes, it can’t take 10,000 keystrokes for CSRs to find the right information. To provide a better experience one-on-one, CSRs need intuitive, fast tools to quickly get borrowers the information they need and provide a better experience.