The race for the ideal consumer experience is on.
Innovation can deliver a broad range of advantages to lenders and servicers: process efficiencies, cost savings, customer insights, risk mitigation enhancements and much more. But none of these is as critical to the competitive strength of these businesses as engaging consumers on their terms through a platform that puts speed, transparency and ease of use front and center.
“Consumers — especially millennials — are taking hands-on control of virtually every aspect of their lives using technology. They schedule ridesharing, make restaurant reservations, even buy cars through a fully digital experience. Why should their mortgage experience be any different?” asks Marc Bator, vice president of Product Management at EXOS Technologies.
This is an important consideration for lenders, given millennials accounted for the largest share (37 percent) of homebuying activity for the sixth consecutive year in 2019, according to the annual Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study from the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). Of the “older millennials” (born 1980-89) surveyed by NAR, 81 percent reported they had found their homes through a mobile app.
“It is vitally important to provide first-time homebuyers in their 20s and 30s with technology that feels familiar to them,” says EXOS Software Engineer Naveen Gowda. “These are people so used to technology that many have transitioned from laptops and websites to mobile devices. If you’re not delivering the capabilities and tech they want, you aren’t going to engage these potential customers.”
And if you don’t engage them, someone else will — a traditional lender that has digitized its processes or one of the many fintech lenders that have entered the market with an end-to-end digital-only experience that appeals to the tech-savvy set. That’s why Gowda and others on the EXOS Labs (EXOS’ research and development group) team continuously work on advances to equip lenders with exceptional digitization options, ranging from a single integrated platform to voice, wearables and augmented reality applications.
“We are creating new experiences for people who operate in today’s ecosystems, where many consumers don’t log in to their laptops every day. For example, we now have technology that enables a consumer to schedule their appraisal, see their loan details and make mortgage payments all on their smartwatch,” Gowda says.
An Integrated Platform Lays the Foundation
Of course, there are also many consumers who do still log in. The key is to meet homebuyers wherever they are, creating a seamless omnichannel user experience.
“Before lenders had access to a platform that would integrate the consumer experience, the mortgage process could be confusing to the homebuyer because it offered digital processes upfront but then reverted to outdated offline processes,” explains Bator. “We designed the EXOS platform to engage consumers consistently, whether they are applying for a mortgage (EXOS is integrated with leading POS platforms), uploading documents, scheduling an appraisal or making a payment. We realize, too, that consumer needs are constantly changing, and so our teams are continuously refining the tools we provide for consumers, appraisers, signing agents and real estate agents.”
For example, EXOS has transformed the valuations experience through EXOS Valuations, a management platform built on next-level technology that connects consumers, appraisers and other constituents with an unprecedented level of transparency and efficiency. Consumers can select the exact date and time of the appraisal and schedule their visit with a single click, while appraisers can streamline their activities and increase their productivity through voice technology.
“We are in constant conversations with our lender and vendor partners to identify new opportunities for enhancing the mortgage process — places where we can improve the consumer experience, the operational efficiency and turn times,” Bator shares. “We ask appraisers, signing agents and attorneys, ‘What would make your job easier and your customers happier?’ and work with lenders’ digital product teams to gain new insight into their particular challenges and needs. These partnerships drive our innovation toward exciting new solutions.”
Gowda adds that the EXOS Labs team closely tracks technology trends in mortgage and non-mortgage industries alike to keep their finger on the pulse of what’s possible. “With every new advance, we think about how we might apply that technology to mortgage — how we can take the next step in enhancing the consumer experience,” he says.
Bator concludes, “Lenders have an opportunity to create an outstanding consumer-driven experience that not only attracts the new generation of homebuyer but also encourages them to become customers for life.”