Lenders must see things differently

I am a supporter of the management theories of Tom Peters. He was at the height of his management guru status in the late 1980s and early 1990s but his thoughts still ring true. More lenders should review his works and start to look at the way they treat their customers - from their customers\' perspective.

It’s of little benefit just sending out a customer survey every now and again. Anyone can design a questionnaire to get the answers they want. Following the Tom Peters philosophy, businesses need to test their products and service from their customers’ point of view.

I remember in one of his books Peters spoke about a CEO of an industrial carpet manufacturer who spent two weeks a year working in a hospital cleaning the carpets he manufactured. This helped him understand how his customers felt about his product and how it performed.

Sadly, the product in our industry – a secured loan on a property – is not one that most people arrange that often. Many staff in lenders remortgage regularly as do many consumers, but these transactions are generally not time- pressured so it isn’t that often that lenders experience the house buying process through the eyes of their customers.

This is when service really counts. Lenders’ staff don’t experience the process in the same way customers do, as staff loans typically don’t go through the same process.

What lenders must realise is that customers need offers quickly. I sometimes think lenders forget that home moving customers are under pressure from the sellers above them and the buyers below.

Talking to many mortgage processors, it seems that anything up to a month from receipt of a completed application form to offer is considered reasonable. Lenders that accept such timings should move house themselves and see the process from a customer’s viewpoint.

What will it take for lenders to improve their turnaround times? The usual motivator for such a change is competition, and no lender has been prepared to step outside the box and rethink their processes, focussing on customer needs.

But among the hype and glitz of the edeus launch roll-out material I noticed this sentence: “With an automated valuation model built into the system, look out for instant unconditional offers and completions which will take days not weeks”. That’s what customers want and that’s what lenders must strive for. It’s this sort of competition that is likely to make others lenders change.

The thrust of this article is aimed at lenders but to succeed brokers and others in the industry should also have a good look at their service and their processes from their customers’ point of view.