Getting eligibility right for mortgage customers

Derek Garriock

June 7, 2019

Derek Garriock (pictured), head of strategic design and innovation at Experian

We have become so used to checking our eligibility for products like credit cards and loans – isn’t it about time mortgage applications followed suit? Many potential customers can be left feeling confused and anxious as they embark on their home buying journey.

Delivering a more convenient, frictionless and stress-free customer experience that helps people understand their mortgage options upfront is a no brainer. And this in turn supports a more streamlined process and better engagement downstream for lenders.

As customers are assessed and their expectations managed earlier on in the journey, lenders can reduce the time spent on applications that are unlikely to succeed, and increase their visibility with the customers that match their criteria. As eligibility evolves, there is also an opportunity to provide more personalised offers that help to retain existing customers – providing flexibility and choice to the consumer, and new avenues of engagement for lenders.

More needs to be done to empower and support customers upfront in their mortgage journey, however this doesn’t mean replacing the need for a human expert who can advise customers and help them choose the most suitable mortgage. On the contrary, eligibility tools need to support the process customers are comfortable with, whether they wish to use a broker or apply for a mortgage directly via a lender’s website.

With that in mind, here are three ways organisations can give customers better visibility of their mortgage options, as well as the support they need as they navigate the mortgage application process.

  1. Give customers access to all the support they need.

While demand for digital services continues to soar across the financial services industry, the mortgage market is a uniquely complex case. Though many customers welcome the opportunity to complete elements of the process online, most still want to know that human experts are there to support them.

In fact, Experian research shows that the value people seek from a broker extends beyond the actual transaction. 22% wanted help exploring what they could do to improve their position, and 24% sought advice on the overall economic and market trends.

This means that while new digital tools create opportunities for customers to engage more flexibly with their mortgage providers, any eligibility approach should be able to integrate seamlessly with an advised journey.

Solutions that help customers understand which mortgages they are likely to be approved for therefore need to offer seamless paths into conversations with mortgage experts, such as brokers, who can provide the one-to-one advice they need. When moving between channels, providers and domains, we envisage a journey where the customer’s data moves seamlessly with them, without the need to re-enter the same information multiple times.

  1. Helping customers use their data to their advantage.

The current mortgage journey relies heavily on advisers capturing the data directly from the customer, which tends to be approximations to questions about their finances. This information is then processed by the lender using averages based on ONS data, along with other documents, including three months bank statements, for another level of validation.

Testing out eligibility tools has shown us the value that credit data can add early in the home buying process. We’ve started exploring how we can take this a step further by look at how other types of data can enhance the customer journey. For example, we can now provide 12 months of accurate, categorised data through Open Banking technology, allowing access to real-time information to better inform decisions like affordability.

In addition to credit profiles, a range of other traditional and non-traditional data can be brought in to provide a clearer view of which mortgages customers are likely to be accepted for. The availability of Open Banking transaction data now means that lenders will be able to pre-populate mortgage forms for customers, making the application process much faster, accurate and easier for them.

Customers who consent to share their Open Banking transaction data with lenders can also get a clear view of their eligibility across a wide range of mortgage products quickly and easily. Additionally, lenders can minimise their risks and costs by reducing manual processing of customers bank statements and speeding up the application process by removing the need for sending these in.

  1. Help brokers deliver the best customer experiences

To provide the best mortgage advice for customers, brokers can also benefit from access to leading-edge affordability and eligibility tools. With a clear and immediate view of products customers are likely to be accepted for, brokers can spend more time delivering value-added advice and, especially, helping customers to understand the differences between mortgage products and the pros and cons of different types of mortgages.

The ability to rule out mortgages customers are unlikely to be approved for also means brokers can speed up services – ultimately helping them get into their new home more quickly.

Brokers also spend less time capturing data, searching for mortgages and more time serving customers – helping them maximise their productivity and business success.

It’s encouraging to see some forward-looking lenders and brokers are beginning to embrace technology solutions that give customers a clear view of mortgages they are likely to be accepted for, but there’s still a lot of work to do to improve this experience. Our mortgage eligibility tool only signals the start of the journey that we want to go on to improve this.

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