In The Spotlight

In the Spotlight with Jens Wikholm, Smartr365

Rozi Jones
18th December 2020
Jens Wikholm Smartr365
"We are working to improve our users’ experience by providing round the clock support for brokers on the platform."

We spoke to Jens Wikholm, design and experience director at Smartr365, about how Covid-19 has affected the platform and what further changes will be implemented in 2021.

FR: Great to meet you, Jens – start by telling us a bit more about what separates Smartr365 from the other mortgage platforms available, and what your new role will be.

Smartr365 is the only end-to-end software platform in the UK mortgage market. What sets us apart is that we are designed for mortgage brokers, by brokers – this means we have a first-hand understanding of the industry and we use this to provide a better mortgage experience for our users and their clients.

I am the ‘Director of Design and Experience’. This means I work with Smartr365’s market leading, best-in-class technology to establish an innovative design system which allows our users to use this complex tech in the simplest way possible.

There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to this kind of development. I wanted to work with Smartr365 because they collect real-time feedback from their users. Using this feedback, we make the changes our users really want, not what we think they want, and we deliver it at pace and scale.

FR: That sounds exciting. Can you give us an example of any changes you’ve made so far?

It is exciting! I think the most exciting part is how much scope we have for change within the industry.

We’ve nailed the user experience for brokers using our fact find tool. The Smartr365 system digitises data at all stages of the fact find, then automatically transfers it throughout the entire mortgage process, saving brokers up to 7 hours per application and revolutionising the role for brokers who make use of this.

But we’re not done yet. A large part of making positive change is working with customers to make the changes they actually want. As I mentioned before, we’ve been collecting user feedback in order to implement these changes. We get this feedback as part of our ‘You Asked, We Built’ commitment, which gives users the opportunity to give us direct feedback for the improvements, or entirely new features, that they would like to see.

Using this feedback, we integrated the eConveyancer tool with our fact find feature. This means the platform now pre-populates more data within the system as well as automatically notifying the customer when each stage is completed. By improving the eConveyancer tool, we increased the number of users submitting conveyancing instructions through eConveyancer, bringing not only a better service for borrowers, but streamlining the process for brokers so they have more time to focus on business growth.

Additionally, we are working to improve our users’ experience by providing round the clock support for brokers on the platform. Last month, we created a brand new Customer Support function to give our users additional support, any time of day or night.

FR: Can you tell me how, if at all, the coronavirus pandemic has affected the Smartr365 platform?

Like all sectors of society, coronavirus and the associated lockdown affected everything within the mortgage industry, and we felt the impact at Smartr365. It suddenly became necessary for entire teams to work from home, all while maintaining positive relationships with clients and keeping up proactivity – thankfully for us, our agile processes were already in place, so we adapted quickly.

We saw a real uptake on the Smartr365 platform during this time too, as we played a vital role in allowing business continuation while working from home. We give our users access to their case files instantly and securely anywhere with an internet connection, but it doesn’t stop there. We’ve been proactively working to ensure our platform allows users to not just “cope” while working from home, but to thrive as well. Our system ensures offices are able to stay connected and collaborate remotely, by giving users easy access to files, secure ways to share documents, and seamlessly integrate video conferencing tools into their sales process. We’ve been working to ensure we’re providing the most useful service to our users both before the lockdown and now in our new way of working. We harness real-time feedback to make constant improvements which ensure remote work is as straightforward as possible.

FR: What would like to see in the industry in the next 12 months?

I think we can do more in terms of Open Banking. We’ve come a long way already, however assuming momentum is maintained and the steady progress we have seen so far continues, we’ll be in an exciting place with Open Banking this time next year, well on the way to Open Finance. It’s great to see consumers beginning to trust and understand the ease of the function, but we can do better.

At the moment, despite Open Banking being a legislative requirement, each bank has engaged to a varying extent, with some still only facilitating limited functionality and others now truly ‘open’ – ideally, we need this to be standardised across the industry. If we can open the door to banks and other lenders, it would be revolutionary. Watch this space…

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