Lenders websites “holding back” UK property market
Mortgage lenders are providing such a poor experience online that they’re missing out on thousands of potential new customers, according to a report from Global Reviews, which specialises in benchmarking major brand websites.
The report says that the difficulty in buying a mortgage online is potentially holding back the UK property market.
A score of 100% means a lender is providing the ‘perfect online journey’ – one that is very easy and effective in getting people what they need, but overall the 10 mortgage providers evaluated average just 49%.
Nationwide offers the best online customer experience (56%) followed by HSBC and Barclays (both 54%). Santander is the poorest performer (40%).
Mortgage providers perform worse than home insurance (average of 58%) and motor insurance (51%) companies and gas/electricity providers (50%).
The scores are calculated from four key tests; a set of practical tasks, an attitudinal survey and an audit of the site’s features – all done by prospective customers – and an audit by independent experts.
Consumers unlikely to recommend sites
Only 12% of potential customers would recommend mortgage lender websites, whilst 57% would actively discourage others from visiting – giving the 10 lenders an overall negative Web Promoter Score* of -45%.
Thus, people are more likely to recommend mortgage sites than energy utility sites (–58%) but less likely to recommend them than home (–30%) and motor insurance (–38%) sites. Nationwide has the highest recommendation score, albeit still a negative one, of –13% whilst The Co-Operative Bank is the least likely to be recommended (–68%).
“The mortgage industry needs to address its online shortcomings to avoid an explosive combination of social media’s amplification powers fused with the majority of applicants willing to actively discourage others to visit,” says Rebecca Jennings, principal consultant at Global Reviews.
“The key impact of the poor online service on consumers is that it handicaps them finding and applying for the most appropriate mortgage. Given the problems people face in finding an affordable mortgage within today’s difficult financial climate, this is potentially holding back the UK property market.”
Score best at “application form” stage but then worst at “what happens next?”
Global Reviews’ report measures 7 stages of a customers’ online journey – from the first encounter with the site, to researching mortgage products, completing the application form and ‘next steps’.
Although half (49%) of potential customers had problems with the application form, this is the stage where mortgage lenders actually score highest (57%). However, they fall down immediately, and considerably, at the next and final stage – “next steps” (14%).
Jennings explained: “Mortgage lenders are especially careless at the final stage, often failing to provide straightforward information such as how long a decision will take or how they’ll be in touch. This support is particularly vital for the biggest purchase a consumer will ever make in their lives. Its absence erodes confidence in the lender right from the official beginning of the relationship.”
Nationwide scores highest (67%) at the crucial “evaluating products” stage – in which people find and compare relevant mortgage products – whilst Leeds Building Society scores worst (36%).
Jennings concluded: “Not one lender provides the necessary positive experience throughout the entire journey. Many do badly in helping applicants find relevant products and related fees and charges; few make any attempt to convince customers why they should choose them, applications are hard and there’s a distinct lack of help and support.
The good news is there’s huge room for improvement. Many lenders could dramatically increase their appeal and smooth the process through minor site amendments that improve conversion rates which, ultimately, could provide a welcome boost to the UK property market.”