Loan servicers score higher marks for customer satisfaction when they initiate contact with borrowers, which can help them win repeat business and referrals from those clients, according to a survey by J.D. Power and Associates.

The survey of 5,000 homeowners, taken in May, found one in five borrowers was either behind on their payments or worried that they would be in the future.

Loan servicers score higher marks for customer satisfaction when they initiate contact with borrowers, which can help them win repeat business and referrals from those clients, according to a survey by JD Power and Associates.

The survey of 5,000 homeowners, taken in May, found one in five borrowers was either behind on their payments or worried that they would be in the future.

Not surprisingly, the survey found customer satisfaction declines when borrowers are delinquent or at risk. But when mortgage servicers initiated contact with troubled borrowers, satisfaction averaged 651 on a 1,000-point scale, compared with 613 when borrowers contacted their servicer on their own.

Among customers who said their servicer helped them deal with their current situation, 21 percent said they would definitely use the servicer again. Only 1 percent who found their servicer was not helpful would use that company again, the survey found.

The 2009 Primary Mortgage Servicer Satisfaction Study identified five fundamental factors in customer loyalty and retention, including minimizing problems and complaints, improving the speed and effectiveness of problem resolution, providing billing and payment options, and furnishing adequate information on statements.

More than 20 percent of customers whose mortgage servicers consistently performed all five fundamentals said they would recommend their mortgage servicer to others.

The average score among 22 loan servicers was 730 on a 1,000-point scale. Top performers were Regions Mortgage (780), Branch Banking and Trust (777), U.S. Bank (771), GMAC Mortgage (752), Chase (749) and Wells Fargo.

At the bottom of the pile were Ocwen Financial (552), American Home Mortgage Servicing (578), IndyMac Bank (646), Midland Mortgage (658) and Aurora Loan Services (659).

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