The Financial Conduct Authority reported earlier this year that the UK mortgage market features a wide range of products on offer, competition on headline rates, and high levels of consumer engagement. Considering this high level of competition, it is important to evaluate customer satisfaction with the core aspects of mortgage products.
A market that is working well should provide products and services that meet consumers’ needs and offer value for money. In its 2019 analysis of best mortgage lenders, Which? Has measured customer satisfaction using five distinct aspects of a mortgage product – customer service, value for money, flexible payments, clarity of statements, and online access. Here is a short explanation of what each of them incorporates:
Around 36% of Vypr’s panel participants currently have a mortgage, with a quarter of those being customers of Nationwide Building Society. We ran a series of Vykert steers aiming to evaluate Nationwide customers’ satisfaction, based on the selection of factors above. The Vykert steer features a scale, ranging from -7, through 0, to +7.
Value-for-money is likely the most important factor for customers and a major motivation to opt for a certain mortgage product. The graph below presents our steer result for customer ratings regarding the value of Nationwide’s mortgages:
Out of 361 Nationwide mortgage customers, 256 responded that the value of their mortgages was great, 99 – neither great nor terrible, and only six – terrible. The median response has a value of +4, meaning that half of the responses were higher and half lower than this value.
We assume that ‘flexible payment’ is perceived as the availability of facilities such as overpayments, payment holidays and underpayments for a reasonable charge or free of charge. Here is how Nationwide customers evaluated it on a scale ‘not flexible – very flexible’:
Despite being a positive number, the median value +3 shows somewhat lower satisfaction when compared to the ‘value-for-money’ median of +4.
Our next steer evaluated ‘clarity of statements’, which simply means the readability of information regarding transactions and charges:
This criterion received the highest median value of +5. The remaining two steers aimed to evaluate Nationwide’s ‘online platform’ and ‘customer service’, both of which scored a median value of +4:
The median results from the five steers are presented in the graph below:
Based on median values, the overall customer feedback is positive, with Nationwide mortgage holders happiest with the clarity of statements and least satisfied with payments flexibility. However, looking into the weight of each third of each scale revealed additional information about consumer satisfaction and attitude:
Consumers who have given a markedly negative score to an aspect are likely to have experienced problems with it or have had an opportunity to compare it with another provider’s product to reach to a negative opinion. Inversely, the voters from the neutral third of the scale might have never had interaction with a service or lack a strong impression from a product’s aspect.
Although Nationwide’s customer service received a median score of +4, very few customers were unhappy with it – below 1%, or in this case three voters. The neutral third of the scale comprises 27%, however, some of the neutral voters might have never contacted customer service, therefore the response could be more positive than it might seem.
In regard to payment flexibility, which is our lowest scorer, the negative third was 6%, which is highest among all negative scores. This could be treated by the mortgage provider as a signal that consumers expect more flexibility in regard to payments and providing such would help retain existing customers. Additionally, the neutral third of the scale is also the largest, with 42%, which means that many consumers see Nationwide’s offer as comparable to those of other mortgage providers. Offering more flexibility could help the building society stand out from the competition, which is crucial for attracting new customers, currently scouring the market for the best available mortgages.
Unlike binary “yes or no” questions, the Vykert scale provides deeper insight into what consumers think and how they feel. Vykert is best used to measure and evaluate customer sentiment on a specific product or service, with the value for each evaluated item offering insights on the reasons for the sentiment revealed in the survey.