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November 16th, 2009

Study: Servicer-Customer Communication Is Key

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There’s no doubt that today’s strict underwriting requirements have left many borrowers with a bad taste in their mouth. However, a recent study suggests that an open line of communication between servicer and borrower can greatly improves a customer’s experience — even in a stressful loan environment like the one we’re in.

J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Survey found that longer loan approval times and stricter standards have caused levels of customer satisfaction to fall:

According to the company’s 2009 Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study, overall satisfaction among mortgage customers has declined to 739 on a 1,000-point scale, down 18 index points from 757 in 2008. The study reveals that the increase in turnaround time has a considerable impact on satisfaction, as satisfaction averages only 723 when the time from application to approval takes six or more days, compared with 798 when the process takes less than six days. Similarly, satisfaction drops from 772 to 736 when the time from approval to closing takes 14 or more days.

The J.D. Power survey found that mortgage originator BB&T ranked the highest with a score of 783:

“Customers working with BB&T indicate they have a better idea of the steps involved in all aspects of the mortgage origination process and the time it will take to complete each one,” said Lo. “Customers report that BB&T effectively manages customer expectations around standard process-related elements of the experience, which results in increased satisfaction with the application/approval and closing processes. In turn, this creates a lift in overall customer satisfaction and underscores the importance of communication between lenders and customers.”

The majority of the complaints we have received from readers, regarding their dealings with mortgage lenders or servicers, have centered on closed lines of communication and lost documentation. Brad Finkelstein of National Mortgage News writes that “J.D. Power said it found there are eight key practices that lenders should leverage to optimize customers’ satisfaction with the mortgage origination experience.” Two of those practices just happen to include “get all required documents to close the loan,” and “provide proactive status updates.”

There’s no secret formula or “secret sauce” — as BB&T executive VP Tim Dale puts it — to good customer service. As this study proves, sometimes it’s just as simple as picking up a phone and letting your client know where they stand — whether good or bad.

How would you rate your servicer’s communication skills?

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About the HSH Blog

HSH.com's daily blog focuses on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets. Our mission is to relate how changes in mortgage rates and housing policy, as well as the latest financial news, impacts consumers, homebuyers and industry insiders alike. Our 30-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry gives us an edge as we break down the latest changes in an ever-changing market.

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Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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