Last week, Mortgage Strategy reported that Mortgage Brokers have criticised the Woolwich online booking system for poor usability and the time it takes to process cases. Barclays Head of National Relationships Sarah Green says she would rather use the ‘millions’ of pounds it would take to improve the system to boost mortgage lending instead.

This debate has been going for some time. Back in March this year, this same system was under scrutiny, with a Mortgage Strategy article headed:

Woolwich’s halfway house tactics on funds are not good for brokers or their customers

Our view:

Although this is a reference to a particular system in the mortgage market, the issue is universal:

  • System costs get out of hand when solutions are not designed efficiently and changes involve expensive development instead of business configuration.
  • Companies are not quick enough to recognise when a system they are using is no longer ‘fit for purpose’ and continue to ‘throw good money after bad’.

In many cases, by standing back and looking at the issues from a fresh perspective, it is often more cost effective and process efficient to start again instead of trying to ‘mend’ a solution that is either outdated or simply not delivering what’s needed.

Not many Companies have the foresight to take this approach, but I would guarantee many should. In the case of the Woolwich, I would challenge the need to spend “millions” fixing a system if it was right in the first place. But then again, a poor user experience will potentially lose a company ‘millions’ in new business.

Perhaps the Woolwich is caught in the ‘legacy trap’ – and are showing a reluctance to spend more good money on an old problem. There comes a time when not replacing legacy systems is misguided. Not only is it inefficient, but it makes ‘understanding your customer’ nigh on impossible. Sound familiar?

Customers have high expectations and will vote with their business. ‘Putting up’ with systems that attract a high level of customer dissatisfaction is to accept the mediocre and no company should be happy with that approach.