The Customer Perspective… From Beginning to End

The Customer Perspective… From Beginning to End

We only have to take a look around to know that while great strides have been made providing technology and applications to help customers with their everyday lives, there is still a long way to go. I don’t mean until life is fully automated, it is more about the refinement needed to what is in use to fully serve its purpose and the public.

Issues customers encounter can be anything from a bifurcated process still needing a combination of personal touch and automation, to technology geared toward some but not all customers, to a limited-scope solution that only addresses part of the customer’s needs (and wants).  While the assumption is that it is always quicker to do something online, there are times where that is a fallacy.

Many organizations are realizing there is a gap in their offerings and some have created customer experience (CXP) officers or departments to specifically address the customer experience.  The goal for CXP is specifically to “delight” the customer by designing interactions that places the customer’s needs first.

These CXP departments are still nascent in many organizations, but the concept has gained a foothold and momentum.  Their focus goes beyond customer service or application usability, they are looking at any and every interaction the customer may have with the organization, across channels, technology and throughout the entire process for their various customer categories using journey maps as a way of mapping out the interactions.  In a recent American Banker article ‘Where is everyone going’, Rebecca Wooters, managing director and head of global cards customer experience digital and journey strategy at Citigroup, was quoted saying “Each journey has a starting point or multiple starting points and an intended outcome… What is everything happening in between those two spots, and are we doing what we need to do for the customer to provide a seamless, frictionless experience?”

Allowing a customer to begin a process at the branch, transition to a mobile application to enter their information, and then reach out to the customer support line to continue the process without having to explain their entire situation, re-enter data, or any other duplicative effort would be a nirvana of sort for many organizations. That seamless experience is what organizations strive for but have yet to achieve in the vast majority of cases.  That is a world where the tools and information the customer wants and needs are provided, how they want it and when they need it.  This foundation will very likely encourage customers to be more independent through self-service transactions, as they will have confidence that they get the answers they need or support they want without wasting time and effort needing duplicative explanations or repetitive data entry.

Does your company have a Customer Experience Division?  What changes have been introduced due to this group’s activities? We would love to hear from you!

CC Pace is proud to welcome Chris Gill as the newest member of our Financial Services team, a group that has been recognized as among the premier consulting practices in the mortgage banking industry. Chris’s knowledge, skills, expertise and overall commitment to helping lenders solve their challenges makes him a great addition to the team. During Chris’s nearly thirty-years in mortgage banking he has spent significant time as a lender, working at both Washington Mutual and JP Morgan Chase, before transitioning to the software side of the industry, where he spent nearly ten years at a leading mortgage software firm. This collective experience serves to make Chris a valuable asset to our clients, someone they can trust to help chart a course for success with their most complex challenges. Chris recently sat down for a Q&A session to discuss his background, his vision for the industry and his purpose in joining CC Pace.

How did you get into the mortgage banking business?
CG: My first exposure to the mortgage banking industry was with the Sheltered Lending group at Chemical Bank in Jericho, NY. While still in college as a temporary employee, I worked in the Closing department faxing out packages from the mailroom to attorneys and settlement agents. I was hired not because of my knowledge or experience but rather my ability to turn a double play. Not only am I proud to still be part of this tight knit industry, you can also find me on the baseball diamond trying to hurt myself.

What sort of things have you done during your time in the industry?
CG: I’ve been fortunate enough to be exposed to lots of different areas within the mortgage banking industry. Started in the backend end of the business as part of a Portfolio Administration group, worked my way into Secondary Marketing, ran a rogue IT shop, and eventually became a licensed Mortgage Banker, Broker and Secondary Lender. One of my most valuable experiences was the time I spent working on a trading desk building a conduit. Interesting to note, these various positions spanned across both the business and IT sides of the house. My new role with CC Pace will allow me to accomplish so much more and better service our clients.

What would you say are some of the greatest challenges the industry is facing today?
CG: Whether it’s customer demand, changes in the market or new regulations, the ability to adapt is the greatest challenge facing financial institutions. Understanding, reacting, and potentially leading is the true definition of an innovator. This can be accomplished with solid forward thinking strategy which most likely includes process and technology refreshes. The famous quote by General George Patton, “Lead, follow or get out of the way!” is still relevant today. Mobile devices, portals, automated workflows, imaging, e-notes are no longer the wave of the future. They are essential building blocks to keep pace with our real-time, on-demand society.

So you’ve transitioned from lender to technologist, and now consulting. Why the recent decision to join CC Pace?
CG: Right people, right time, right situation…. While I’ve been in the industry a few decades, I’ve only worked at a handful of institutions. Every organization strives for excellence. I firmly believe the most effective way to be successful is to work with the best professionals. In my opinion, CC Pace offers something not found at other consulting firms. Deep real-life experience with complete focus on the client’s best interest. At the end of the day, we’re all in this business to originate loans. For me, this opportunity represents a unique chance to work with more than one lender.  Servicing clients while driving industry innovation excites me.

What will be your primary focus be at CC Pace?
CG: My role at CC Pace will be a little departure from the traditional business development function. CC Pace has done so much in the industry that no one knows about. I’m here to start meaningful conversations and share our valuable experience. “Been there, done that” is a great mantra when it can be said about defining strategy, improving efficiency, reducing risk and ensuring success.

What makes for a successful lender/consulting partnership?
CG: This could really be a one-word answer: ‘trust’. Trusting our experience, our knowledge and our skills to help solve your most complex of challenges or projects. Our end goal is to help you operate more efficiently, effectively and successfully. A great partner can be the difference in making a struggling, meandering project with marginal success into a timely, smooth-running project with significant success.

When should lenders be calling you?
CG: Call me anytime, even if you’re not sure what you need. CC Pace is the premier financial services consulting firm. Our seasoned staff of consultants have an average of over 25 years of experience managing highly complex multi-faceted projects. Together, we can accomplish great things.