The performance of mortgage loan servicers is lacking in
the eyes of many of their customers, even this early in the pandemic driven
recession. J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Primarily Mortgage Servicer Satisfaction
Study found customers reporting long wait times to speak with customer service
representatives and little proactive communication on the part of the
companies.

J.D. Power surveyed customers 7,275
customers
who originated or refinanced mortgages more than 12 months earlier on the performance
of more than 30 of the nation’s largest servicers. The survey, fielded in March
and April, looked at performance across six factors, onboarding, billing and
payment, administration of escrow accounts, fees, communications, and interaction
via websites, live and automated phone. The study also explores customer
satisfaction based on behavioral segments, such as risk/loan status, servicing
transfers, tenure with servicer and demographics.

The company says mortgage
servicers have been put to the test during the pandemic as a combination of
historically low interest rates, record high unemployment and rising
delinquencies have created a surge in customer inquiries. In addition to long
phone queues and a lack of adequate communication, customers are increasingly used
servicer websites, which many do not find adequate.

“The COVID-19
pandemic has really amplified the gaps in customer satisfaction, digital
experience and call center experience that have been a challenge for mortgage
servicers for some time,” said Jim
Houston, director of consumer lending intelligence at J.D. Power. “At a
time when the need for streamlined, effective digital guidance and proactive
outreach and counsel is more important than ever, mortgage customers aren’t
finding the answers they need online, pushing them onto long customer service
queues in call centers and leaving them to hunt for answers on how best to
address their challenges.”

Despite it all,
the company says average industry satisfaction is up from 2019 and many of this
year’s findings are forward looking, providing lenders with a clear line of
sight to what consumers want and expect. Topping the list for the seventh
straight year with a score of 854 was Quicken
Loans, followed by Regions Mortgage at 846 and Huntington National Bank at
827. However, all were outscored by USAA
Federal Savings Bank (895) and Navy Federal (864), neither of which met the
survey’s ranking criteria.

Sixty-two percent of customers visit their lender’s website first for
information, but only 28 percent say it is the most effective channel
for resolving an issue, and of those, 45 percent said they were only able to do
so by speaking on the phone with a representative. J.D. Powers says, given that
websites are relied on for common customer activities, lenders need to make
sure that their websites are more effective in helping customers achieve
resolution.   

Nearly
one-fifth
(19 percent) of customers say it is not easy to contact a live agent
via the telephone. This negative experience causes a 261-point drop (on a
1,000-point scale) in satisfaction for those consumers who want to use this
traditional channel.

Customer fears can drive
increased calls. The survey found 44
percent of at-risk customers called their servicer in the last 12 months vs. 25
percent of those at low risk. At-risk customers also call more frequently, an
average of 3.15 times vs. 2.54 for others. Thus, J.D. Powers says lenders
should expect more calls as risk increases. This could further challenge centers
already dealing staffs working at home.  

While only 8 percent of customers report receiving
three or four proactive communications each year from their services, those who
do have the highest levels of overall satisfaction, and an average score of
810. Forty percent says they’ve received no proactive communication from their
lender, and 29 percent say they’ve received 11 or more. Too many communications
also caused satisfaction scores to decline.                     

The communication that had the greatest impact on customer
satisfaction is a simple “thank you.” Scores increased by 86 points when
lenders thanked customers for their business, yet just 22 percent of lenders do
this.

 

By Jann Swanson , dated 2020-07-30 17:34:57

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Courtesy of Mortgage News Daily

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