Historically, net worth has been the primary, if not sole, criteria used by lenders in segmenting mortgage customers. Typically, high net worth individuals are serviced by the private banking operation, while nearly everyone else is grouped together.
But banks need to consider far more than net worth when tailoring the process to meet specific borrower needs. By using analytics to predict customer behaviors and emotional drivers, lenders can create a set of personalized recommendations and services, tailored to unique borrower segments.
The first step in creating unique customer experiences is to be more granular in defining customer segments and the intentions and characteristics shared by customers in each segment — whether first-time homebuyers facing a high learning curve, investors with more complex financial situations or a couple looking to relocate.
Integrating with real estate agents, builders, financial planners and even home security firms is also key. Knowing what, when and how to weave offers from these providers into the process creates a differentiated experience.
However you categorize prospective buyers, creating a succinct list tied to your target market is the goal. Here is an example:
First-time homebuyers are typically risk adverse and may have a limited credit history. Because they require a high degree of education about the mortgage process, integration with the real estate agent and other third parties is critical. These buyers often reference social media in making purchase decisions.
Upgraders are also risk adverse — typically preferring 15- or 30-year fixed-rate mortgages — but are more financially secure than first-timers. Their main objective is having more living space and maintaining financial stability, and they tend to be emotionally involved in the mortgage process.
Financially savvy and experienced in the mortgage process, investors tend to be willing to take calculated risks. Unlike first-timers and upgraders, they have lower emotional involvement in the process. Investors demand seamless fulfillment with minimal personal engagement. Remote tools, such as e-closing or e-signature are important.
Relocators — those moving to a new geography — are focused on a smooth mortgage transaction. They typically need support both virtually and from a network of local providers. Lenders should be able to integrate their services with a re-locator’s employer if a corporate relocation is involved.
Consider Frank, a first-time homebuyer, and Ina, an investor, who are both interested in buying the same house in Florida.
Frank wants information explaining the obligations of homeownership and how to read a mortgage statement. He researches lenders using his social network and is notified of mortgage offers through third-party home shopping applications and online sites. He uses the lender’s personal homebuyer's app to develop a budget to save for a down payment, learn about property taxes and insurance, search for houses and compare loan terms. Frank appreciates receiving a $250 coupon at the closing from a local home appliance retailer with whom the lender partners.
Ina, on the other hand, won't be interested in receiving lots of educational materials about homeownership responsibilities, or having the lender reach out to her through social media. Ina’s main concern is jumbo loan pricing or interest-only products which enable her to invest the savings at rates higher than those offered by the lender. Being able to sign the documents electronically is also critical since she lives in Texas and doesn’t want to travel to Florida for the closing. Receiving discount coupons at closing isn't particularly enticing.
Two mortgage prospects — two very different expectations. To personalize the lending process — and delight home buyers — analyze your customer portfolio, understand your target market, define your customer segments and apply predictive analytics to internal and external customer data to provide an experience unique to each segment.
Ghazale Johnston is a managing director with Accenture Credit Services.