Customers think of themselves as home-buyers while banks see them as “mortgages.” We map the first-time buyer customer journey and identify innovation opportunities, using multiple research methods to bridge the gap between banks and their customers.
Reimagining The Home Buying Experience
“Banking is no longer somewhere you go, but something you do.” – Brett King, Bank 3.0.
Banks are under pressure to transform their services and keep pace with evolving customer behaviors that have been influenced by tech companies like Apple and Google. There is a growing need for banks to re-engineer themselves as digitally fit, tech-empowered companies, led by customer experience (CX).
To unlock the value that digital can bring to the mortgage customer experience, Wipro Digital carried out research with first-time homebuyers. We used a combination of research methods to understand the goals, perceptions and values related to the end-to-end journey of buying a home from the first-time homebuyers’ perspective.
Multiple Research Methods To Multiply Innovation
Gaining valuable insight from research is not just about choosing the right methods and recruiting the right participants, it’s also about enhancing confidence in your data through validation.
Often, products are designed based on the findings of one research method and that can be risky, since data from a single method is limited in accuracy and subject to bias.
Methodological Triangulation refers to the use of more than one method for gathering data, where researchers validate their findings by cross-checking against another research method. This allows researchers to inform designers, strategists and engineers with the right insights to match customer values and meet customer goals, rather than working on false assumptions. As Don Norman suggests, when organizations leave Users out of UX, they end up with X, which stands for “don’t do it.” See: UX – U = X.
To build contextual understanding of the home buying journey, Wipro Digital applied a combination of desk research, netnography, depth interviews and guerrilla research, which involved interviewing participants who had recently been through the mortgage process. We uncovered some valuable insights. For example:
- Self-employed partners face obstacles completing mortgage applications
- Gathering documents and form filling is a pain point
- Face-to-face interaction is greatly valued
When Do Prospects Become Customers?
Today the mortgage prospect’s first interaction with a bank often happens when they are trying to calculate how much they can borrow. However, the customer journey begins earlier with the decision to buy a home, which is often based on triggers such as starting a new job, wanting to live with a partner, or increasing rent prices. In some cases, the mortgage prospect is an existing customer of the bank and their home buying journey begins when they start saving for a deposit.
By understanding the end-to-end journey from the customer’s perspective, banks can engineer a seamless home buying experience and capitalize on innovation opportunities. Many customers expect the home buying journey to be unnecessarily long and complex. Banks could exceed such low customer expectations by shortening and simplifying the application process through smart use of existing data, intelligent document scanning, or by tracking end-to-end progress.
Not Home Yet
Banks generally complete the mortgage process once the customer has moved into their new home, but the journey doesn’t end there for the customer. There are new challenges such as budgeting for mortgage payments and paying bills. These customer challenges create multiple experience opportunities for banks. For example, banks can connect with new homebuyers by offering flexible personalized payment plans based on changing expenditure patterns or by providing customer-selected alerts to prevent over-spending.
By mapping the customer experience against activities performed by the bank, we identify potential opportunities to innovate and increase value via automation:
The mortgage process represents just one relationship where the customer experience can be reimagined, redesigned and re-engineered. There are enormous opportunities throughout this customer journey and other retail banking relationships, and banks need to tap into this value to keep pace with an ever-changing digital landscape.
But it starts with believing in customer research, and having confidence that the way you do research extracts the kind of insight that truly transforms the customer experience.