By Fred Bolstad
Mortgage lenders across the country have faced unprecedented challenges in recent years. From helping homeowners avoid foreclosure to showing buyers some of the best bargains in decades, lenders have sought to keep customer service levels high through it all. At Citi, we’re reengineering the way we serve our customers in many ways. Here are just a few:
Better Communication: As a real estate professional, you know how communication builds trust. We’re rethinking how we communicate in order to create a better customer experience. For example, we’re improving both our phone and Web experiences and expanding into every other medium through which our customers choose to engage with us: live chat, mobile apps and more.
Plus, we’re asking current customers if they’d like to convert to paperless communication and automatic payment of their monthly mortgage.
We’re also reviewing the documents our customers see to look for opportunities to improve clarity. The aim, after all, is to make every communication easier to understand—whether it’s written on paper, electronic or verbal—so customers are better prepared for the mortgage application process, know what to expect and what their responsibilities are.
Better Process: We’re committed to turning around mortgage applications as quickly as possible. We have innovations such as Web Self-Serve, which empowers our customers to submit loan applications online, check their ongoing status and more. We’re also streamlining document requests and delivery and eliminating borrower rework. Plus, we’re letting customers know at the time of application and during the welcome call what credit conditions will impact the application process so there are no surprises later and customers have a better experience. These credit conditions include all collections, judgments and liens; all Social Security Number issues; credit inquiries in the last 90 days and address and identity discrepancies, including any identity alerts.
Clear Policies and Fee Structures: Our straightforward polices and fee structures, as well as our robust origination system, allow us to accurately estimate the amount of your clients’ closing costs so there will be no surprises down the road.
One-Contact Problem Resolution: We’re improving internal procedures and guidelines that make it easier to solve customer issues on the first contact. In our call center, for example, we’re conducting substantial training to upgrade the loan processing knowledge of every call center agent, so the answer a customer needs is literally just a phone call away.
Most of all, we’re listening to customers, who tell us that they want to “be kept informed of where we are in the process and what else is required.” And we’re listening to our customer service agents who are submitting their own ideas for making improvements. Every voice counts and, together, they add up to what we all want: a healthy and robust mortgage lending system that helps America’s real estate professionals serve our mutual customers better.
Fred Bolstad is Managing Director, National Sales – Citibank NA.
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