“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times … ” is how an article with this title should probably start. But when I compare getting a loan two years ago when I first bought a home to when I recently refinanced the same loan, it’s not fair to throw around words like “worst” or “best.”
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Two years ago, we sold our condo and moved into our very first house — one with a yard, a garage, and an extra bedroom! We worked with a traditional loan officer with only two points of contact throughout the entire process. We got a decent rate, we closed on time, and all our questions were answered. You couldn’t have asked for more. On top of that, we had a pretty decent and friendly experience.
Fast forward two years.
Mortgage rates are hitting an all-time low amidst a worldwide economic crisis driven by a global pandemic. I have a new job at a software startup called Front. We make technology for customer communication. With rates under 3% and a chance to shave almost 15 years off the life of our loan, we started shopping for mortgages.
We ended up choosing a 15-year fixed rate loan from Better.com at almost half the interest rate we’d been paying. That’s when I was able to see the difference world-class customer communication can make to any customer experience.
That’s because it just so happens that Better.com uses Front throughout the company to orchestrate communication both internally among their teams and externally with customers.
What it’s like to work with individual loan officers over email
When we first bought our house two years ago, we had two points of contact: a loan officer and a loan processor.
Overall, from pre-approval through final closing, I ended up with a total of 56 emails in my inbox spread over 33 individual threads in one month. At one point, our loan processor lost an email with documents we needed to resend:
That’s not so bad. But that one lost document cost us one day in the process, and created another three emails. We understand that there will always be mistakes, but this example underscores the main problem with scaling the mortgage process: even with just one or two people, emails still fall through the cracks.
What it’s like working with a mortgage team over email
With Better.com, we worked with six different people, a loan consultant, a processing expert, a closing expert, and a few associates along the way. That’s three times the number of cooks in the kitchen. But we ended up with 10 fewer emails than the first time, and nobody dropped the ball at any hand-off.
We still got personalized service and all our questions answered, but we had a different subject matter expert for each of the different phases of our mortgage. We closed on time and had a great experience.
When I worked with Better.com on a couple of sessions for Inman Connect Now Live, I was able to see how Front makes that kind of seamless experience possible. You can watch those sessions here and here to see exactly why Better.com loan officers are 1200% more productive than industry average.
It’s hard for individual loan officers to scale to more customers. But it’s also hard for teams to scale a great experience without a collaborative customer communication platform like Front. So maybe instead of talking about “best” and “worst” in this tale of two loans, we should be talking about “good” and “better.”