Value Proposition: the importance of balancing sales and service
Craig McKinlay (pictured) is new business director at Kensington Mortgages
The art of efficiently balancing sales and customer service is where many specialist lenders within the mortgage market go wrong. Balancing the two may seem obvious, but often it holds true that lenders lack efficient methods to guarantee a dependable, reliable service for their consumers, and hamper their sales drive as a result.
All lenders, not just specialists, often miss the mark when it comes to meeting the needs of their customers; several of these, in turn, have had to exit the market due to resulting competitive pressures – when it now no longer comes just down to price, those with the poorest service wither on the vine.
In the current lending market, efficiency is now imperative to success, and lenders need to recognise that digitisation is the way to improve both sales and customer service. For us, digitisation has been a vital steppingstone to successfully realise our ‘head and heart’ offering. That is why we have prioritised the digitisation of our broker process to optimise mortgage application time, which is fundamental to the overall satisfaction of customers.
At present, the average speed of a mortgage application is unsatisfactory; for specialist lenders the journey time from start to offer is approximately 20 days. At Kensington, we have challenged this unreasonably prolonged timeframe by reducing our process down to as low as 12 days.
We are not stopping there though. Specialist lenders need to take a leaf out of the high street market and look to provide a much quicker, digitally-enabled response time – we are aiming to reduce the speed to five days from application to approval.
What’s more, we have recently launched a new API (Application Programming Interface), Twenty7Tec, which allows any broker who has the application to fill in its standard universal fact find for a customer, translating it into the lender’s application form before submitting it. Our broker process is carried out by a unique computing programming system, which further enables solicitor searches and background checks ensuring an accurate and reliable service for customers.
Technological advancements in the data science and digital space have helped the mortgage market evolve and become eminently more efficient – but in some cases wholesale or predominantly digital service means that those individuals with more complex cases either fall through the cracks or the algorithms in place reject the application. To have the best of both worlds, manual underwriting is still important to underpin the decision process.
The mortgage industry is rapidly changing. Lenders are therefore going to struggle to survive unless they encompass the demands of the current market. Value proposition is of huge importance to the industry, but many lenders make the mistake of prioritising either high-street lending speed or specialist service and discretion; however, the two very much go hand-in-hand.
We’ve been on a journey to incorporate the best of both worlds to ensure both the application process and service are efficient.
We have improved our operational capacities to date through doubling the number of underwriters last year, which demonstrates our commitment to providing a better service for our valued customers, combining human judgement and cutting edge data modelling to ascertain eligibility and get swift offers to our prospective customers.