Mutuals keep up to speed in race for more business

Mutuals are adopting mortgage application tracking technology to stay ahead without busting the budget

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The feeling of being left in the dark is familiar to many in the mortgage industry. It leaves brokers and end-customers compelled to call lenders for simple updates, while building societies themselves have often struggled to provide the right information at the right times without putting a strain on overstretched staff.

Several of the UK’s largest building societies have tackled this issue head on, with mortgage application tracking technology that illuminates the process for all parties, keeping staff and stakeholders up to speed on case progression activity while brokers and applicants receive automated updates via SMS, emails or personalised web pages.

Now mutuals are taking advantage of the same technology in order to compete for greater volumes of mortgage business without requiring major capital investment or staff recruitment. The importance of an organisation’s physical scale is receding, leading some to question whether size matters anymore.

Cambridge Building Society has been one of the latest firms in the industry to introduce mortgage tracking software.

Early reports suggest the enhancement has been well received by brokers, for whom being kept informed is now a basic expectation. It has also expanded the society’s case handling capabilities by freeing staff from manual information gathering, calls and emails.

This comes at a crucial time in the evolution of The Cambridge, which has undergone a major rebranding over the past year, not just of its corporate image but also its product offering and geographical reach.

As part of the new generation of scaleable, low-cost and easily integrated web-based systems, this breed of tracking software is having a profound effect on the mortgage playing field, allowing smaller lenders to scale up their capabilities without having to scale up their resources.

But perhaps even more fundamentally, such solutions are bringing the mortgage industry truly into the information age, providing management teams with data-driven insight into application volumes, sources of incoming business, case completion rates, complaint levels and resourcing.

The result is not only to offer management teams a precise, real-time overview of current business levels but also a firm foundation on which to forecast future performance and helping to guide the development of more market-responsive products and services.

Improving the flow of information helps address disconnection between internal departments or between partners and stakeholders. These fault lines are where cases become vulnerable to errors and delays. Neither should be allowed to happen in today’s competitive and customer-focused environment, where word-of-mouth advocacy and positive perceptions go a long way towards driving new business.

Externally, this new generation of technology enables lenders to exploit the full potential of the latest media channels to stay close to brokers and customers, who are increasingly accustomed to the convenience, personalisation and responsiveness of mobile phone communication, whether via SMS text or mobile email

Mortgage lenders must adapt to this changing environment – including the growing influence of social media – but the challenge lies in doing so efficiently, without placing undue burdens on their internal resources. And this challenge is particularly acute for mutuals unable to make budget-busting IT investment.

This is where technology, so often misconstrued as inhibiting good service, is taking an increasingly important role.