Sarah Green, Client Partner of Mortgages at Capita, takes a look at how we can create a better home buying experience for customers.
Buying a home, especially if it’s your first, is one of life’s biggest decisions.
Your home is a place of sanctuary, which you can personalise in any way you wish, somewhere your family will play and grow – and so investing in it is very much an emotional decision.
However, as with any investment, it is, of course, also a financial decision. Practically, there are countless things to do – once you’ve found a desirable property in the right location you must then manage the finances required; arrange a building survey and household insurance; choose a broadband provider and utilities companies; organise postal redirects and removal companies... the list can seem endless.
It often adds up to a complicated and time-consuming process, and while many lenders, brokers and technology providers have tried to streamline and accelerate this over the years, for first-time buyers in particular it remains a step into the unknown. More often than not, home buyers learn as they go with minimal support or guidance along the way, which can result in an unnecessarily challenging, stressful and lengthy home buying experience.
And yet, first time buyers represent about 25% of all residential house purchases in the UK (approximately one million property transactions per year). Nearly two-thirds (62%) of people living in the UK own a house, while out of those who don’t, 76% want to own a property. The government’s decision to significantly reduce stamp duty at the beginning of the pandemic has also driven up house purchases.
So, the housing market is alive and well, with many first-time buyers taking the first rung on the UK’s property ladder. It’s therefore imperative then that we support our customers in what should be an exciting and gratifying journey – especially those who are new to the whole experience.
Using technology to support home buyers through the journey
Typically, home buyers face three major challenges.
The first is who to go to for the right advice so that you can make an informed decision. How much money can you borrow, what is the right type of mortgage to go for and what will it cost?
The second is how to collate your personal information and provide it in the way required. Which payslips are needed and in what format? What information is critical for a full income and expenditure statement?
Finally, once your mortgage has been approved, how do you proactively manage the moving process to ensure that you can exchange and complete as soon as possible and start the next phase of your life?
Collectively, the mortgage industry, financial services sector and its partners have a key role to play in streamlining the home buying experience. The most significant improvement we can make is to reassess this journey from the eyes of the customer. Are we leveraging the voice of the customer through focus groups, think tanks and social media in order to make improvements? Do we have someone who acts as the voice of the customer in our meetings, processes and system designs so that we’re solving problems through a customer lens? Are we listening to what our customers are saying and are we proactively seeking this out before a complaint, issue or loss of business arises?
To be a truly customer-centric organisation, it’s also important to realise that customer behaviours are changing, impacted by external factors and influences such as Covid-19. Post-pandemic, consumers are more focused on health and wellbeing, human connections and empathy. At the same time, the pandemic has also accelerated the adoption of technology in the financial services sector, driving it forward several years in the space of just 18 months. This has provided more convenience for the customer through screen sharing, live chats, electronic signatures, digital documentation and through the use of data sources such as open banking. These also compliment the need for ‘hybrid’ channels, giving customers channel choice – the flexibility to, for instance, start a process face to face and to complete it with remote digital technology.
Technology can also be used to help demystify the home buying process. It can support personal objectives, reassure the customer that their mortgage application is progressing, and even provide nudges and support at appropriate points in the journey.
So, while being a tech-savvy organisation is imperative in today’s world, what’s even more important is how to harness this technology to become a customer-led, human-focused organisation – this is the key challenge for many of us to unlocking a more streamlined home buying journey.
At Capita, we’re passionate about creating the very best possible outcomes for home buyers. Find out how we can help you achieve this by balancing technology with the needs of your customers.