How can we keep homebuyers more engaged?
FinLink is a CRM software specifically designed for mortgage brokers in Germany. It provides brokers an overview of active mortgage applications, helps in processing the applications and required documents and gives homebuyers a digital tool that allows them to easily apply for a mortgage, compare offers and upload documents.
One of the biggest struggles of mortgage brokers is that most of the homebuyers who contact them are still searching for a home. This type of client is hard to convert, since the property search can take more than a year, and during that time the buyer may get into contact with other mortgage brokers.
We wanted to find a way to keep these clients more engaged for longer.
I was responsible for the product design and the research. I worked closely with Tanya Höpker, the product manager and design sprint facilitator for this project, and was supported by my design colleague Alexandra Rudneva, who helped with the interviews in German and notetaking. We also involved a few of our developers during the discovery interviews so they could get more direct exposure to the problem space.
December 2020 - January 2021
Are our assumptions correct?
At the start of the research, we gathered assumptions throughout our company with the intention of checking the validity of these assumptions during the exploratory interviews with our users. We interviewed 6 mortgage brokers and 5 homebuyers, most of whom were still in the process of searching for a home. We used Miro to gather all of the notes and grouped them into relevant topics.
Notes from exploratory interviews with mortgage brokers
Validating our hypothesis
We then checked how many of the interviews confirmed our assumptions. Our results suggested that some of our assumptions were completely correct, but for others, we either hadn’t managed to gather relevant data or the answers were not conclusive. This was a good indication that the planned design sprint would be very helpful to test our ideas further.
Checking if our assumptions are confirmbed by the interviews
We also analysed the answers from our online mortgage application form. The data showed that most clients haven't secured a property when they talk with an advisor for the first time.
Answers from 227 users on the online mortgage application
Key research insights
83% of clients are still looking for a property when they first contact a broker
The real estate market in Germany is very competitive, and most clients end up losing their initial property
All of the brokers in our study find that clients who are still looking for a property are the hardest to convert
Ideation as a team activity
We planned to do a design sprint for this project since we wanted to get more team members involved in the product design process. This was our first design sprint, and it was fully remote.
Design sprint facilitator: Tanya Höpker (Product manager)
Designer: Martina Nikolova
Developer: Daniil Kutsyna
Domain expert: Jan Joisten (Mortgage advisor)
Decider: Gernot Schusser (Founder)
Note: Since this was our first design sprint as a company, we also received some guidance and advice from a design thinking coach from Product Dojo.
Drawing the map
We mapped the whole client journey, from the moment of deciding to buy a home to purchasing one, so we could clearly see how the process of searching for a home fits into the whole mortgage application journey. We concluded based on the interviews that most homebuyers end up losing their property at some point and thus need to start over in their search. We decided to focus our ideation on this second stage of the process, after buyers have restarted their search.
The mortgage application journey
Ideation & sketching
During the ideation process, we asked everyone on the design sprint team to sketch their solutions separately, and then we voted on the best ideas. For me as a designer, this was very insightful since it was proof that good design ideas can come from anywhere in the team.
We then stitched all of the ideas into one complete journey, which made the prototyping process much more manageable.
Solution sketches from all design sprint team members