Themes Uncovered During Total Expert’s First Customer Advisory Board

By Total Expert Founder and CEO Joe Welu

Everyone who walks through the doors of Total Expert knows that customer success is our number one priority. And in 2021, we launched several new initiatives to help us get closer to our customers, understand their challenges, and map out a plan for success. Most recently, we created the Total Expert Customer Advisory Board to discuss market trends, growth initiatives, our product roadmap, and their own experience as a Total Expert customer.

The first meeting of our inaugural Customer Advisory Board took place in Minneapolis at the end of 2021. Read on for the key themes and insights we gathered from our customers. Do they resonate with you?

The Evolution of Personalization with Segmentation & Data   

One of the top priorities for our customers is segmentation and data. In short: they need to understand their customers better. With the right data at their fingertips and the ability to act on that data, financial institutions can more accurately market to their customers and connect with them on a deeper level—delivering the right message at the right time via the right channel. Banks and lenders are competing with far more than with other banks and lenders. They’re being compared to every brand consumers interact with. Personalized communication is a start, but hyper-personalization – or the ability to go beyond variable fields in an email – is how financial institutions will remain competitive.

Focus on the Entire Financial Journey

It’s critical for lenders to realize that the borrower journey doesn’t end after a home loan is secured. That’s just the beginning. To stay competitive in today’s market, lenders have to be more than a means of getting a home loan.  Our customers, independent mortgage lenders, are thinking outside the box to provide additional areas of support throughout their customers’ financial journey. This includes providing resources for home improvements, debt consolidation, and budget planning—and laying the foundation for a lifelong relationship.

Digital Channels are Raising the Bar for Customer Experience

The customer experience discussion remains front and center as financial institutions pivot to an even greater number of digital interactions while trying to humanize each experience. Since its inception, our customers have learned that social media drives brand awareness more than financial transactions. To connect with a broader audience, banks and lenders are prioritizing these channels, even turning to new platforms such as TikTok to appeal to a younger audience.

Loan Officers Are on the Move

Our customers predict that loan officers will seek greener pastures to combat the shifting market. As such, recruiting will be a big focus over the next 12 months —another challenge to manage as loan volumes drop and rates increase. What can you do to keep your high performers? Equip them with the right tech stack that helps them be more efficient and personalize at scale. Not only will they have more time in their day to effectively nurture relationships, but they’ll be more likely to drive repeat business with their current customers.

Digitization of the Retail Loan Officer    

Over the past 18 months, the role of the retail loan officer has changed. They’ve had to adapt and leverage digital tools more than ever before. It’s become tables takes in order to appeal to a tech-savvy audience, keep them engaged, and maintain a strong connection. And this trend isn’t going away anytime soon. Consumer expectations will continue to evolve and technology – such as advanced communication tools like an in-app dialer – will be at the forefront of building deeper relationships beyond the initial transaction with both customers and co-marketing partners.

Customer Advisory Board Members

David Angi, SVP/Head of Mortgage Strategy and Business Support, Citizens Bank  
Dan Catinella, Chief Digital Officer, Finance of America Mortgage
Sue Cole, EVP, Managing Director of Marketing, Ameris Bank 
Kelly Gill, VP of Marketing and Advertising, Motto Mortgage 
Cheryl Hayes, SVP, Marketing, PrimeLending 
Elizabeth Hillestad, SVP of Marketing, CIVIC Financial Services 
Jessica Manna, President, Digital Strategy and Innovation, Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation
Dustin Morton, VP of Product and Strategy, Motto Mortgage 
Brian Surgener, SVP of Strategy, Mutual of Omaha Mortgage
Melissa Wright, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, American Pacific Mortgage