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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   March 2013

Creating a Powerful Web Presence

Building engagement with your company’s website can be key to success

When the World Wide Web was first launched to the public, it changed the business world forever. Companies of all kinds began to extend beyond their brick-and-mortar walls, and that put an increasing amount of control in the hands of customers. 

In today’s Web-savvy world, businesses are more accountable than ever before. As countless review sites, blogs and forums continue to emerge online, one bad move can hurt a company’s bottom line, something that has been exacerbated by the onslaught of social media. Conversely, however, one good move can be a boon to your business.

All of this underscores the absolute necessity of a company having an effective Web presence, and mortgage banks and brokerages are no exception. Although the Internet has changed the way that people do business, customers still rely heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations, a reliance that’s especially true in the mortgage and housing industries. When it comes to big purchases — such as homes — customers consistently turn to the Web first.

In fact, a 2011 study by Cone Com-munications found that 89 percent of consumers believe that Web channels are trustworthy sources for product and service reviews. Further, almost four out of five consumers have changed their minds about a purchase based on negative information they found online. The study also found that about 87 percent of online buyers agreed that a favorable review confirmed their decision to finalize a purchase.

Mortgage banks and brokerages that are launching new websites must consider emphasizing their online applications. For instance, a website might allow customers to log on and then have access to loan rates, a mortgage calculator and even loan applications, in addition to a slew of educational information, such as program descriptions and glossaries of mortgage-industry terms.

Mortgage professionals also should be sure to include testimonials and success stories on their websites, which can convey a concentrated effort to be more transparent and accessible to clients. Although testimonials can be effective in and of themselves, mortgage bankers and brokers also should place significant value on positive third-party reviews. According to Cone Communications, about 60 percent of consumers are likely to research recommended products online because they can easily access information. In addition, Americans in 2011 were about 25 percent more likely to verify information for high-cost purchases than they were in 2010.

Good reviews begin with excellent customer service, but businesses can — and should — encourage clients to report their positive experiences after a transaction. Consider politely asking your customers to fill out reviews after they’ve completed the loan process, and more often than not, you may find that they’re happy to do so.

It’s also important to share good reviews with your entire staff, including your sales employees and operations workers. This can reinforce the value of great customer service for your sales force, and it validates what your operations staff does daily for your company and its customers. Everyone should revere the glow of a good review. It builds equity throughout a company and makes everyone aspire to a higher standard.

To run the best and most productive business that you can, be sure to consistently monitor your company’s reputation online. In today’s mortgage industry, banks and brokerages sometimes only get one shot to retain their customers, so it should be your business to always do good business. 


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