Mortgage lenders tend to do a better job providing customer service when originating loans than modifying them, according to a survey by J.D. Power and Associates.

The market research firm asked 4,516 homeowners about their experiences with their primary mortgage servicer, and found that when providing loan modifications, servicers were less likely to provide timeframes for approval and to meet them than when originating loans.

Servicers working on loan modifications were also more likely to ask for information more than once, and less likely to explain the process at the time of application and to provide status updates.

The survey measured customer satisfaction in five areas of mortgage servicing: fees, billing and payment, escrow account administration, website, and phone contact.

Among the 19 servicers rated in the survey, Branch Banking and Trust Co. (BB&T) received the highest customer satisfaction score — 795 on a 1,000-point scale. Six loan servicers scored below the industry average of 720, with Ocwen Loan Servicing landing at the bottom of the list with a 551 score.

Among the big four mortgage servicers, only Bank of America scored below the industry average, with a score of 705. Among that group, Wells Fargo received the highest customer satisfaction score (744), followed by CitiMortgage Inc. (730) and J.P. Morgan Chase Bank (721).

Loan servicers receiving the highest customer satisfaction scores tended to provide concise information about fees, and delivered informative account statements and accepted payments using the homeowner’s preferred method (through the mail or electronically).

High-scoring loan servicers were also good at problem resolution. Once a problem was identified, they were able to resolve it quickly and efficiently.

Companies that executed on those "best practices" were able to reduce inbound call volume by up to 13 percent, and increased the likelihood of winning repeat business and referrals.

Among "highly satisfied" homeowners with prime credit scores, 27 percent said they "definitely will" go to their servicer for a new home mortgage, while only 6 percent of less-satisfied customers said the same. Similarly, 34 percent of highly satisfied prime borrowers said they would recommend their servicer, compared with 6 percent of less-satisfied borrowers.

J.D. Power Mortgage Servicer Satifaction Rankings

1. Branch Banking and Trust (BB&T) (795)
2. Sun Trust Mortgage (767)
3. U.S. Bank (755)
4. Wells Fargo (744)
5. Fifth Third Mortgage (740)
6. Regions Mortgage (740)
7. PHH Mortgage (735)
8. MetLife Home Loans (731)
9. CitiMortgage Inc. (730)
10. Flagstar Bank (730)
11. GMAC (726)
12. HSBC Mortgage Corp. (726)
13. Chase (721)
14. PNC/National City Mortgage (716)
15. Bank of America (705)
16. Aurora Loan Services (647)
17. OneWest (619)
18. American Home Mortgage Servicing (617)
19. Ocwen Loan Servicing (551)

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