MReport August 2020

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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32 | M R EP O RT FEATURE Building Trust in Your Brand Here's how lenders can improve the customer experience as the mortgage process adapts to changing homebuyer needs. By Joe Welu " B rand" means many things, but it's mostly about customer percep- tion. Your brand—that is, your customers' perception of your company—is affected by every interaction, which means you must think about how each one builds or erodes trust. Mortgage lenders must comply with complex regulations while delivering a wonderful customer experience, even during the toughest parts of the mortgage process, like closings. Since the start of the pan- demic, there's been a push in Washington, D.C., to change closing regulations to improve the process and customer experience. Here, I'll dive into customer per- ceptions of closings, how COVID- 19 is affecting eClosing policy, and what lenders can do to ensure closings remain a trust builder, regardless of policy. Be Aware of What "Digital" Closings Feel Like to Customers T he typical customer hears a lot of messaging and advertising about a simple digital mortgage. And remember: they don't know mortgage law, so "digital mortgage" sounds like an entirely online pro- cess that's as easy as ordering on Amazon or watching Netflix. The reality, as we all know, isn't that simple. Some customers prefer to submit documentation through old-fashioned channels. Some documentation doesn't neatly fit into the digital systems we've built. The result is that most mortgages today are, in reality, hybrid digital-human processes. This is particularly true of the closing process, where, because of regulations, borrowers may have to sign a huge pile of actual paper, even when everything else is digital. The result, for a customer who hasn't been prepared, is a real trust-eroding experience—aka one that can hurt your brand. The good news is that the brand-saving, trust-building solu- tion is straightforward: commu- nicate throughout the process. Set expectations. Educate customers about why you're doing things the way you are. And use tools like Total Expert to automate personal- ization of this communication and education—this is how you super- power your human advisors. Now let's look at how to make the closing process better. Advocate for Universal eClosings F irst, some quick definitions: • eClosings are those carried out via remote online notary (RON). Borrowers can e-sign documents with a notary via webcam. Where RON is legal, loans can close entirely digitally. • Hybrid closings happen when borrowers remote sign all documents that don't require notarization, then on the same day, sign in person any docu- ments that require notarization. Pre–COVID-19, RONs were legal in 23 states. Since the pan- demic struck, a few others have made emergency allowances. But, as most lenders know, that's not the whole story. Some warehouse lenders or investors won't fund or buy loans that don't have wet signatures. Some title companies can't insure RON loans. So even in states where RONs are legal, they may not be feasible. This, of course, prevents lenders from offering the best possible experience, which can hurt their brand. Here's some good news for solving this: the SECURE Act, introduced March 18, 2020, would make RONs legal in all 50 states. While it didn't end up in the CARES Act, it does have bipar- tisan support, making its odds decent.

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