Millennial Expectations Demand Tech and Customer Service Upgrades

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It's time for the mortgage industry to adapt to the high-tech expectations of the millennial generation and provide an end-user experience that focuses on establishing a personal relationship with each customer and enabling each customer with a stake in the company's brand.

After a lifetime of technology access, millennials have what some call an elevated expectation for what their customer experiences can and should be: exceptionally convenient, technology-enabled, accessible, fast and easy to understand. These expectations should not be passed off as a mere side-effect of an "entitled" population.

Instead, the millennials' expectations indicate a major shift in values that will carry on for future generations. Business leaders who accommodate these expectations will not only bring much more opportunity than hardship in the long run, but will also more immediately benefit their businesses.

Considered to be the most diverse generation in U.S. history according to Pew Research, the behaviors and buying patterns of this generation are far different and more difficult to define than past generations. With a population of more than 75.7 million and buying power of $1.68 billion according to CEB Global, the millennial generation is larger and more influential than any other before its time. Though many have yet to dip their toes into the home buying waters, the question is no longer whether they'll purchase a home, but when.

This demographic is spending a lot of time searching for homes online and from their mobile devices. One of the best ways to relate to them is to tap into their love of technology. If a company wants to know where a brand or product stands with these consumers, check YouTube, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for product review posts, and if no one is talking about the company online, then chances are good consumers don't know the company exists.

Millennials desire a two-way dialogue that allows for greater interaction, feedback and responsiveness. By making strategic investments into mobile strategy and online channel expansion, lenders will be more prepared to tap into that market. A comprehensive mobile strategy may appeal to the millennial borrower's desire to connect on a more personal level by allowing loan officers and brokers to meet the borrower at their preferred location and walk them through the loan process, answer questions and deliver instant information.

The benefits of an on-the-go mobile-enabled workforce are not exclusively the borrower's. This tech-savvy and personal marketing approach can nurture the borrower further into the loan process faster, increasing productivity, and reducing the overall cost per loan for the lender. In addition, it will improve the lender's brand image and serve to attract the tech-savvy talent that is entering the workforce in droves, and who, according to PWC, will represent 50% of the U.S. workforce by 2020. Indeed, the millennial affinity for digital and high-tech tools will be a critical factor when it comes to choosing an employer.

Lenders who pursue channel expansion should do so with a carefully mapped out strategy and keep in mind that the millennial borrower does not just want convenience and brand interaction, but also demands a consistent experience from a brand from all customer touch points. The information, service and experience provided from a branch should be consistent with the service delivered from a mobile device and should enable the borrower to remain actively engaged throughout the process. With that in mind, channel expansion should correlate with well-planned technology integrations and operational alignment strategy.

To crack open the millennial floodgates, lenders must recognize that the millennial consumer is now in the driver's seat, and the self-service mortgage capabilities that borrowers have come to expect are here to stay.

Teresa Blake is practice director at Wipro Gallagher Solutions.

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