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Strategy can help uncover miscues between what borrowers expect and what they experience in the mortgage process, according to latest Insights Report

March 23, 2023 – DENVER, COLO – Lenders interested in finding out how their borrowers really feel about their loan experience could learn from Five Guys, one of the leaders of secret shopping in the fast food industry. That’s the conclusion STRATMOR Group Senior Advisor Brett McCracken reaches in his article, “What A Top-Notch Burger Chain Can Teach the Mortgage Industry About Secret Shopping,” found in STRATMOR’s March Insights Report.

“People rave about Five Guys food and the company spends very little on marketing or advertising, where the big chains spend billions,” says McCracken. He likens the use of secret shoppers as the chain’s “sixth guy,” which refers to skilled players in basketball who don’t start but come off the bench to fuel a team’s scoring.

Five Guys operates more than 1,700 locations around the world and every week each location is secret-shopped — twice. Employees get to share in the secret shopper bonus money when they achieve a top score. The company has spent only $22 million on the program, far less than the billions its competitors spend on marketing and advertising.

Mortgage originators should consider secret shopping too, especially given research that shows businesses that prioritize the customer experience drive three times more revenue growth, McCracken says.

“While many businesses that sell directly to consumers utilize secret shoppers, I often find that banks, credit unions and independent mortgage banks do not,” he says. “In STRATMOR’s view, secret shopping is the best way for lenders to remove the disconnection between perception and reality and pave the way for meaningful improvements in customer experience.”

“It can be used to explain why consumers might feel a certain way about a business, or more importantly, why they might choose not to finish a transaction with a lender,” McCracken says. “When done discreetly, and well, it provides an unbiased audit of products, services and employees that can generate actionable data to use to improve overall experience and brand performance.”

In his article, McCracken explores how lenders can implement their own secret shopper approach. While he admits the process can be complex, he points out that the shopping experience can be broken down into meaningful parts which can yield valuable insights, some of which are surprisingly easy.

To find out, McCracken secretly shopped several lenders himself. The results, which may be surprising to many, are included in the article.

“Prioritizing the customer experience and tracking business results are worth your time,” McCracken says. “Do you need to immediately hire a Chief Customer Experience Officer? I don’t think so. But I do think every company needs someone who is passionate about both the consumer and employee experience, who is responsible for documenting experiences, and who is actually empowered to make changes that have an impact.”

In a second Insights article, “Score a CX Victory Over Last-Minute Loan Volatility,” STRATMOR Group Mortgage CX Director Mike Seminari points out that buzzer-beating baskets in an NCAA Tournament game produce the same overwhelming anxiety that often takes place in the mortgage loan origination process.

The last days, or even hours, of the mortgage loan process can produce a lot of anxious energy for borrowers, Seminari writes, which can translate to missed referral opportunities if closing issues occur. In his article, Seminari offers three steps originators can take to minimize end-of-game miscues.

Click here for the March 2023 edition of STRATMOR’s Insights Report.


About STRATMOR Group

STRATMOR Group is a leading mortgage industry advisory firm that provides a range of programs and services designed to counsel lender CEOs and senior executives. STRATMOR serves more than 250 companies annually, providing strategies that increase growth and improve profitability in sales, marketing, technology, operations and mergers and acquisitions. The company leverages comprehensive, propriety data and key insights gained through extensive experience in the mortgage industry. STRATMOR is well known for its financial models and its collaboration with the Mortgage Bankers Association in the PGR: MBA and STRATMOR Peer Group Roundtables Program. Find out more about STRATMOR on its website at