Under the motto "Digitization MEETS Consumer Protection," we conducted a total of 469 advisory interviews from January to September 2022 to take a close look at the quality of construction financing advisory services.
In the process, we noticed the following content-related topics, which are now examined in more detail in this article and/or. to be explained. Our goal is that these explanations can help interested banks to continuously improve their service and consulting quality.
1. As part of the "digital check."
In this test category, the focus is on the digital first impression when looking for concrete financing for the desired property. The issue is u.a. also around the interaction of the different information, the provided calculators& Tools and useful links to other topics (u.a. on insurances or also on the subject of building savings).
We were particularly struck by the fact that more and more banks are offering redundant functionalities. Be it that own portal pages or. Ecosystems double resp. additionally and as a rule also often deviating from the existing functionality on the homepage. This always raises the question of which of the online calculators is the right one now.
Although these additional offers are often very comprehensive and also very informative, they often appear to an interested customer as a separate solution, so that the overall impression is partially clouded as a result.
Furthermore we noticed in the context of our investigations that on very many web pages linkings lead either into the emptiness or are offered to the customer calculators, which were cut off for the appropriate Buttons in such a way that one cannot fill these out and/or not operate.
Here a regular user test of the own homepage is missing from our view, in order to optimize these weak points for the increase of the general customer satisfaction.
When analyzing more and more websites, we also noticed that the offer for additional financial services, which ideally match a construction financing, is presented in a very "clear" way.
For example, most of the products referred to are term life insurance or even legal protection insurance. Current accounts, as part of the bank's claim to be a principal bank, or major hedging products, on the other hand, tend to be rare.
This is a great pity and always follows the (mistaken) belief that the customer simply wants fast and cheap financing.
There should be these customers, but it is often a missed chance, if one orients oneself so too much at these and thereby the other customers and/or. target groups in a certain way forgets or. neglected.
Overall, the range of information and especially the scope of digital tools (from submitting documents to downloading necessary documents to calculators for personal financing) has improved significantly compared to the previous year.
Currently, the trick is to ensure that the customer can navigate the website well, that the information offered is coherent and user-friendly, and that features offered are also tested (functionally and content-wise) on a regular basis.
2. In the context of "quality of service
In the context of service quality, the focus in the test was on making appointments. The challenges we have faced have often been long waits to reach a contact person combined with often necessary call-backs from the specialist department or. the consultant to make an appointment.
Since in these cases the recalls were unfortunately too infrequent, this first impression was rather unpleasant in numerous cases.
In addition, there were a few institutions where you already have to provide or submit fully comprehensive information before you are put in a position to make an appointment.
Here the impression arises too quickly that the bank first wants to check whether the customer is "financially attractive" enough. On the one hand, this is understandable, but on the other hand, this leads to a demeanor that is likely to prove too unwieldy in practice, as it is precisely the "solvent customers" who are likely to struggle with such an approach. Here the impression of "either/or" arises!
We liked the numerous online appointment possibilities, which we could already use, remarkably well. The only, but decisive challenge in a smart appointment process is that the appointment actually takes place on time and via the discussed channel.
Unfortunately, there were also some institutions in the test where, after several attempts, we are still waiting for a callback to make an appointment.
Such an approach will certainly be viewed critically not only by us, but also by every interested customer, so that going to a competitor is almost an obvious choice.
Our testers were regularly displeased with the appointment process, so this category should be given special attention in practice, since credit brokers are comparatively much easier to reach, and appointments can be made promptly and bindingly.
3. In the context of "quality of advice"
The test category Consulting Quality deals with the specific customer request for financing (in the category Customer Orientation) and around the individual needs analysis based on the personal needs situation (in the category Consulting Quality).
With the concrete financing inquiry the two most substantial differences, which we noticed again and again, were that not in each discussion directly a concrete offer was possible; and/or very often that in security invested and/or. Liquid equity was also taken into account.
If one would like to sell a higher credit volume, one should refer to the customer apart from the renouncement of the imputation of the own capital also to a possible higher credit volume and that if necessary. existing securities account as the new principal bank within the scope of this.
In many cases, we had the impression that advisors are increasingly assuming "interest rate hoppers" and are therefore adjusting their behavior accordingly.
In the long term, however, this will be a difficult development, in which at some point it will no longer be possible to clearly identify who triggered the development, which at some point will make you angry.
If, for example, our testers were not explicitly asked at the start of the consultation whether the property in question was owned or used by a third party, conclusions could usually be drawn immediately about the rather poor quality of the advice given. If the questions asked here are inadequate, other important criteria will tend to fall by the wayside, even though they are essential for the financing. It must be clear that this question about the desired use of the property is about more than the pure interest rate.
In a comprehensive data collection, the customer's high savings capacity became clear very early on, for example, in order to point out a possible higher financing volume or also numerous important major or. to be able to address important topics in cross-selling.
Discussing the purchase price, financing volume, monthly installment, fixed interest rate or even the possibility of unscheduled repayments in detail is a prerequisite for us to subsequently discuss a (financing) offer that suits us 100%.
Apart from the customer-individual consultation with regard to the financing inquiry with all questions and/or. Design options (rate, fixed interest rate, subsidy u.v.m.), our focus is on recognizing existential life risks, which it is essential to address in the context of financing if you see yourself as a quality leader.
In addition to coverage for long-term illness and occupational disability, addressing the topics of old-age provision and long-term care coverage at an early stage is. The interest hedge or also the structure of a maintenance reserve may not be missing; for example in the form of a building savings contract.
In this subject area, a large number of banks have surprised us very positively and shown us what is possible today in terms of technology and content.
In these houses, we usually received extensive information and concrete recommendations within a maximum of 90 minutes – in the course of an initial interview – which continue to encourage us to maintain our high level of ambition in the test in the future as well.