Nick Higbee

Address competing priorities of lenders and members

Deconstruct the pains, gains, needs, and jobs to be done.

September 6, 2021

Today, credit union mortgage lenders face a dilemma that represents a sizable risk to growth and innovation. 

The issue is competing priorities. Member-centric credit unions want to provide a digitally transformed experience for borrowers. They also want to achieve operational efficiency to improve overall member satisfaction. 

Credit union lenders must choose between solutions that benefit throughput and those that enhance member experience. It’s difficult to choose one over the other. This is understandable given current market conditions and challenges the movement’s lenders face. 

Address conflicting requirements by deconstructing what both sides of a modern home loan transaction must achieve. What are the true pains, gains, needs, and jobs that underpin “digital experience” and “operational efficiency”?

Members want speed, yet prioritize knowledge

We hear a lot about the mounting demand for speed and self-service, a long-simmering trend now boiling over thanks to the coronavirus (COVID-19). However, research conducted by CUNA Mutual Group’s H2 Innovation Center before and during the pandemic reveals consumers prioritize a different pair of experiences. 

Learning and empowerment score much higher than speed and self-service. Homebuyers and refinancers absolutely appreciate speed; however, they prioritize a firm grasp of the nuances in today’s complex mortgage process. They appreciate micromoments of discovery that create a sense of control and enable savvy financial decision-making. A new study of consumer attitudes backs this up: In a consumer survey by marketing research firm Meyocks, 88% of consumers say brands should provide valued-added information to their customers.

Lenders want efficiency for more time with members

CUNA Mutual Group researchers made similar discoveries about the lender desire for operational efficiency. The industry highlights things like automation of manual tasks and better connections between systems as means to larger volumes, but there is a more coveted outcome for credit unions. 

The research, which includes qualitative one-on-one sessions with lenders from credit unions of varying sizes, shows that efficiency means reaching a state where staff can slow down, answer questions, and build lasting, impactful relationships with members. 

It’s not uncommon for a credit union lending officer to express a desire to “get our originators off the phone.” But that’s not because they don’t value human-to-human discussions. In fact, it’s the opposite. Research shows that lending supervisors are happy to have staff on the phone—if staff are counseling members on down payments or loan estimates. Not so much if they’re populating redundant member data into an outdated loan origination system (LOS).   

Human expertise and machine capabilities

The pandemic catapulted innovations that drive efficiency through machines and generate learning through humans to new levels of success. Telehealth platforms enable doctors to see more patients without sacrificing personal engagement. Digital whiteboard solutions mirror in-person brainstorming without the time, expense, and physical risks of getting everyone in a single room. At the height of local shutdowns, fitness centers shipped latent equipment to clients’ homes and conducted personal training sessions via Internet of Things (IoT) technology. 

Providers have proven they can deliver the best of both worlds. Through human expertise and machine capabilities, consumers solve medical issues, accomplish tasks, and beat fitness goals. The same expectation is coming for the lending industry—if it isn’t here already. 

It’s never been more critical to ensure innovation adequately addresses needs.

NICK HIGBEE is innovation product consultant for AdvantEdge Digital.