In industries where price competition is fierce, finding other ways to bolster a company’s brand is vital for success and survival. In the mortgage industry, one proven way to do this is by making the underwriting experience as productive and efficient as possible.
A Need for Speed
In today’s market, speed is paramount. Not surprisingly, this holds true in underwriting as well. Loan officers and loan processors want an underwrite as quickly as one can be completed. Research* shows that across underwriting service providers, turn time (or speed of the underwrite) is one of the most important characteristics associated with a best-in-class underwriter.
As such, the ultimate responsibility of every underwriter then becomes the completion of an underwrite as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality. Many underwriting companies turn to technology solutions for the assist in reaching this goal. Integrated capabilities such as intelligent document ingestion, workflow and automated loan routing, predictive analytics, and rules-based programming are becoming more common. These capabilities also enable enhanced data collection, which can provide further insight into loans underwritten, identify opportunities for innovation, and support predictive analytics.
Approvals with Pricing That’s Just Right
Expectation of an approval and competitive pricing are both significant factors in deciding which underwriter/underwriting service provider to work with. Pricing, of course, cannot be ignored for all the obvious reasons. However, pricing and underwriting speed are essentially irrelevant when a loan does not receive an approval.
This does not mean that pricing is not still an important component. Even premier customer service has its limits in mitigating the effects of higher pricing. In order to steadily drive more business, underwriting service providers must ensure that they remain competitive in pricing without losing focus on other key customer service attributes.
Customer Service You Can Rely On
Regardless of how much emphasis is seemingly placed on pricing as a highly valued attribute, studies show that this is not as singular of a focus as one might think. In fact, attributes such as turn time, ease of submission, expertise, customer service, and responsiveness often trump pricing and fees.
All of these can be characterized as traits of good customer service, which illustrates a significant dynamic: price is not everything when generating new business.
Regardless of why customer service may rank higher than pricing, the importance of customer service can be used to an underwriter’s benefit. Underwriters can directly affect the customer service they offer within their normal course of business, thus helping their companies grow business. And, good customer service has a compounding effect on new business generation. Each positive experience encourages customers to provide repeat business, and over time this can lead to a significant positive brand association and customer loyalty. The impact of good customer service cannot be overrated.
Price is not everything when it comes to the decision of where to do business. Good customer service encompasses higher-priority attributes than other decision factors, leading to better referral rates than simply having the best price. Could your company’s customer service plan be better focused?
*Research derived from 2016 and 2017 Genworth administered blind surveys to underwriting decision makers.
Paul Gomez is Senior Vice President & Chief Operations Officer for Genworth’s U.S. Mortgage Insurance business, based in Raleigh, North Carolina.