Crazy about customer service, Guaranteed Rate talks national expansion

by Nenad Tadic
January 21, 2014

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Retail mortgage giant Guaranteed Rate, based in North Center, already operates over 190 loan production offices throughout the country, but it’s embarking on an expansion into other “key markets.”

 

Don’t worry, though. Chicago will remain the company’s home and its technology and innovation teams will remain based here.

 

To expand, it’s solicited the help of Ty Pennington. Yes, that Ty Pennington. Spots featuring Pennington are coming to a TV near you soon.

 

“Ty is a natural fit with our company – he’s known for helping to create dream homes, and we’re focused on helping people get into their dream homes as easily and cost-effectively as possible,” said Shawn Malayter, vice president of public relations. “He is really going to take our brand to new audiences.”

 

Many in the Built In Chicago community remember Guaranteed Rate from the 2013 Moxie Awards, where the company was chosen as a finalist for both CTO of the Year and Best Corporate Digital Innovation. The company was also named one of four finalists for the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center’s Merrick Momentum Award.

It’s also won several other accolades and honors, including being named a top workplace by the Chicago Tribune and earning an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Guaranteed Rate’s excellent reputation is probably why, at a time when refinancing volume declined, the company funded more than 55,000 loans with a total value of nearly $16 billion, according to Malayter. The company, which has 2,650 employees, was able to up its ranking to the number 10 spot nationally, “by offering low rate, low fee mortgages with unparalleled customer service, and also through our direct-to-consumer online businesses,” said Malayter.

 

As a whole, the mortgage industry has traditionally provided a very unpleasant consumer experience, Malayter said.

 

But Guaranteed Rate does things a little differently. Customer service is a critical component to the company’s success and is continuously measured. It’s a “front and center” metric that everybody at the company pays attention to. All loan officers have their own scores and these scores roll up to teams, branches, regions, business units and the company as a whole. Everyone knows what their score is and how it compares to other teams at the company, Malayter said.

 

“We have always prided ourselves on taking the opposite track: making the mortgage process easier to understand and less stressful for home buyers.”

 

What’s next on Guaranteed Rate’s agenda? Perhaps enticing millennial loaners with digitized mortgage processes.

 

The company wants the entire mortgage process to be digital. “We’d like to speed up the process from a month or two to a matter of weeks,” Malayter said.

 

The company also plans to roll out enhancements in its Partner Xchange app—a free site designed to help real estate agents to build their business and close more deals.

 

On the technology side, Malayter explained that, “we have a clear vision on what we want to do, so that makes it easier to keep the team focused.”

 

In the end, it’s the “Zappos-like” customer experience combined with “Wal-Mart like” fees that does the trick. It’s this value proposition Guaranteed Rate provides its customers that keeps them coming, referring and thus growing the company.

 
 
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