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Here's what one bank is doing to meet consumers' demands for easy-to-use digital tools
UBER, AIRBNB and Spotify are some of today’s best examples of the frictionless, seamless digital experiences that are changing consumer behaviour. Consumers now expect it to be hassle-free to order food online, hire a car and book a hotel room at any time from the palm of their hand. And that’s what they’ve come to expect from banking and broking too.
In the past three years, Bankwest has seen an 88% rise in mobile app logins, which suggests customers want banking options at a time and place that suits their lifestyles, says Ian Rakhit, Bankwest’s head of third party banking. “They’re telling us that they expect seamless self-service banking, which allows them to do their banking when and where they choose,” he says. That means that if banks want to keep up, they need a shake-up.
So, to meet customers’ expectations around ease of use and immediacy of service, Bankwest has been focusing on how the collection and analysis of data can help the bank and its brokers better understand customer needs.
Over the last 18 months Bankwest has launched a number of new services to help brokers achieve this, including its Home Lending Portal, Home Loan Pricing Tool and Home Loan Application Tracker.
In Rakhit’s opinion, “the broker’s skill of convenience, choice and expertise, married with the use of technology, can only enhance the customer experience”.
Streamlining the loan process
Creating a “world-class home loan experience” is about channelling the ease and simplicity embodied by the apps that people use on a daily basis. Bankwest’s Home Lending Portal is a digital resource that allows brokers to track critical information and the real-time status of current home loan applications, monitor existing customer loans and access a range of other helpful information.
“What the growth of the broker market clearly shows … is that customers also highly value choice. The growing use of technology is here to help with efficiency, speed and certainty” – Ian Rakhit, Bankwest
“We’ve had a lot of feedback from brokers that their favourite feature of the portal is its ability to access existing customer information,” Rakhit says.
The portal allows brokers to see loan account details, such as interest rates, limit, balance, product type, loan purpose and repayment type, which makes it easy for them to review their customers’ existing arrangements and connect with them when a better opportunity presents itself.
The bank followed the portal with a Home Loan Pricing Tool that delivers “real-time responses” to mortgage rate requests. It also allows pre-population with relevant customer data, a shortlist of applications, and associated application status updates.
Bankwest also launched the Home Loan Application Tracker, a web-based tool designed to keep brokers and customers informed throughout the loan application journey – from the lodging of an application right through to the first repayment.
The bank’s most recent release gives brokers the ability to request a free, upfront auto-valuation (AVM) prior to starting a new home loan application.
Although not a new offering, Bankwest’s click-to-chat program continues to be a hit among brokers as it enables them to communicate directly with mortgage support agents about applications, pricing status and other concerns.
This commitment to broker technology has proved successful, and many are lauding the bank for its streamlined service. Brokers say the tools save them time, help them locate, track and access information to keep clients informed, and enables them to provide better customer service overall.
“With instant pricing results through the broker portal, fast turnaround time for assessment, and exceptional support from the BDMs, we achieved lodgement to settlement in a really short time frame,” one broker said in a testimonial to Bankwest.
Traditional service meets the future
According to Rakhit, while face-to-face interaction is still valued by many customers, especially those on the verge of making “one of life’s ‘big decisions’”, the opportunities and convenience offered by digital services are undeniable. And neither banks nor brokers can afford to resist them. That said, one is not a replacement for the other. Modern technology and traditional interaction should complement each other and support customers as they take steps to securing a home loan, Rakhit says.
“The broker’s skill of convenience, choice and expertise, married with the use of technology, can only enhance the customer experience” Ian Rakhit, Bankwest
“What the growth of the broker market clearly shows, though, is that customers also highly value choice. The growing use of technology is here to help with efficiency, speed and certainty.”
As consumer behaviour continues to change, Bankwest will keep investing in the channel and in technology that makes it simpler and easier for brokers to service these evolving needs. Developing its digital products is never over. The bank is now piloting the electronic signing of contracts and making the broker website more user-friendly.
“We understand the importance that brokers play in creating a competitive industry that allows more choice for customers,” Rakhit says. “Bankwest will continue to transform to meet this challenge, as we’ve done for more than 123 years. As we move forward, we’ll continue to listen closely to our customers and brokers to realise our vision: to deliver amazing customer experiences that matter.”