For many decades, branches have been the preferred channel for the largest financial transaction most customers and members will ever make: their mortgage. While COVID-19 caused building societies and all lenders to pivot to a remote environment, the rollout of the vaccine and anticipated return to business as usual prompts the need to assess both digital and in-person services. As mutually owned and trusted organisations, building societies can combine their reputation for personalised service with multi-channel, digital offerings in order to gain competitive advantage.
For the majority of building societies, business is centred around deposit taking and lending, and surveys indicate very high satisfaction levels in these areas. Mortgage borrowers of building societies have a 93 percent satisfaction rate with their providers, which is attributed to face-to-face interaction and telephone service. Additionally, in a recent survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Building Society Association, building societies outperformed banks and others financial providers across seven different questions, including propensity to recommend their provider to family and levels of trust. These results underscore building societies’ dedication to personalised service as their sole purpose is to provide the best experience for their members.
This reputation for personalised attention is directly in line with customer preferences according to a global KPMG mortgage survey, where personalisation and empathy were cited as top factors in determining customer experience. The results found, however, that lenders fell short in both of these categories, demonstrating the customers’ desire for more tailored touchpoints.
In addition to personalisation and empathy, the same KPMG survey indicates a desire for multi-channel offerings. UK respondents indicated the highest preference for digital channels with 79 percent of customers preferring to complete their mortgage application online. These results, however, do not indicate that the branch is going away. Thirty percent of respondents cited a medium preference for in-branch visits during the mortgage application process, indicating a continued desire for in-person interaction and support. While only 11 percent of the population prefers to bank in-branch, and COVID has restricted traditional face-to-face banking activities, 24 percent of customers aged 65 and over still prefer these branch interactions. With their already high levels of member satisfaction and service, building societies have a unique opportunity to grow their member base and revenue by combining personalised attention with automated, multi-channel capabilities.
Since the mortgage origination process is riddled with complexity and requires human decision-making, automation can be leveraged to eliminate tedious tasks, such as rekeying of data. Integrations with credit services, income and identify verification and more can be used to verify applications in real-time, allowing building societies to focus on what matters most: the optimal experience for their members. By leveraging an omnichannel tool that allows members to interact via their preferred channel, building societies can decision faster and more reliably, while providing a level of unmatched customer service.
COVID-19 has spotlighted the importance of a flexible digital offering; however, this does not mean dissipating all branches and automating all touchpoints. Throughout the financial stress of applying for a mortgage, members desire the kind of individualised attention building societies are known for and need options when it comes to the types of channels they can be serviced. By combining omnichannel support and high service levels across all touchpoints, building societies have a real opportunity to differentiate themselves against those that have fallen out of touch with the human emotion of home buying.
The views, opinions and positions expressed within guest blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the BSA.