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Being with clients at every step gives priceless insight

Moving home is no easy task. It has been described as the third most stressful event in life behind death and divorce.

Those of us working in this industry can help by ensuring the mortgage element runs as smoothly as possible.

What’s more, by providing good service, we will protect sales and build in retention from day one.

Understanding customers, their needs and the gruelling process they go through, often involving 30 different stages, is therefore key.

Following the formation of Lloyds Banking Group and the bringing together of several brands for us to become leaner and more efficient.

Surveying customers at the end of the process meant they struggled to remember the details and how they felt

We quickly identified the need for a sound piece of research to inform how the mortgage process could run more smoothly with potential customers and ultimately how we could drive this arm of the business forward.

We joined with market research specialist BDRC Continental, which helped us measure the experience of our branch and telephony customers using a methodology called Tracktion.

This system, developed by BDRC to be in line with Market Research Society ethical requirements, surveys participants at regular intervals in their journey to pinpoint critical customer interactions.

It allowed us to research a group of mortgage applicants on a weekly basis, from the issue of Key Facts Illustrations to completion. Key experiences – good or bad – were monitored as they happened and we often received feedback within minutes.

In the past, we surveyed customers’ perceptions of the mortgage process once it was over, which meant they had to recall events that had happened up to three months earlier.

Gathering accurate insight was difficult because customers struggled to remember the details of each stage and how they had felt at the time.

The ups and downs of the process were also often overlooked by elated clients whose recollection was skewed by their excitement of securing the new home or mortgage deal.

As a result, the approach gave us limited operational insight that we could meaningfully use to adapt our customer service.

Tracktion has given us the opportunity to join customers on their journey and check in with them at each stage.

The end result has been a more accurate overview of the experience, capturing perspectives at each step and understanding how they changed as the application progressed.

The findings have been integral to how we manage our business and have helped us to create what many mortgage providers would see as the holy grail – an in-depth knowledge of the 20 most important events for home buyers.

We now know how customers rate us on what’s important to them and we react accordingly. We have been able to identify who is responsible for success and failure internally, whether this is at the application stage or further on in the process.

In short, the findings have driven our ongoing improvement projects, spelling out in actionable detail what needs to be better and, most importantly, how we can make it better.


Marketwatch – June 2012

I did say I wasn’t going to mention Europe again as I am sure we are all getting bored with it, although as I was finishing this article I got a tweet saying Spanish 10-year yields have broken through 6.9%, with Italian yields tracking them at 6.3%.

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