Getting Borrowers to Refer

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Data shows that 90% of lenders these days are sending a post-closing survey to measure their borrowers’ experience.  These surveys invariably ask “The Ultimate Question”, whether the borrower would recommend the lender to a friend or family member.  The feedback across the industry on this question is generally quite positive. Yet most lenders are not seeing the correlating rise in revenue that would be expected.

Why is this important?

Whereas the home financing process used to start after a consumer found a home to buy, we’re now seeing it move earlier and earlier in the home-buying cycle.  The new paradigm is that the borrower first searches for houses online, then finds a lender and gets pre-approved, and finally, as a last step, contacts a realtor to help them view the properties.

In this new shopping model, Zillow deserves special mention.  Over 50% of all real estate search traffic today is going to Zillow.com, with three out of four consumers having already found financing.  In other words, by the time friends and family (who would be inclined to refer Glacier Bancorp) find out about the home shopping and try to make a referral, they’re too late.  If you want to see revenue gains from referral business, you have to enter the game sooner.

The Diagnosis

When borrowers say, “I would recommend to friends and family,” what they are really saying is that they would recommend “if the situation presented itself” or “as long as it’s easy or convenient.”  Unfortunately, the stars rarely align for these types of referrals to take place.  The key for lenders is to create opportunities for borrowers to share their testimonials through social media and make the process as effortless as possible.  Lenders must help the borrower be proactive.

Over the past five years, Zillow has become the leading source of lender referrals, so tapping into their network is a great place to start.  LO’s can create their own personalized pages with no financial obligations to Zillow.  The hardest part, however, is getting borrowers to log into Zillow and complete the (somewhat lengthy) survey.  This same hurdle of getting the borrower to open and log into their social media accounts presents itself with Facebook, Twitter, Yelp! and LinkedIn.

The Prescription

There are a handful of companies who will aggregate customer comments and place them on the lender and loan officer social media sites, but that has proven to have little impact.  The FAR GREATER impact comes when the borrower shares with their own social media network.  Driving this behavior can be tricky, but we’ve found a tipping point in our MortgageSAT product, whereby placing a redirect link at the end of a borrower survey is making it easy and convenient for them to share.  We’re achieving nearly a 70% click-through rate.  Roughly 150-200 borrowers per 1000 will leave a testimonial when the choice is made simple and convenient.

In the case of Zillow, loan officers with a Zillow page (and whose lender uses MortgageSAT) can have testimonials posted onto their Zillow page in virtually real-time, and any testimonials they receive will roll up to the lender page as well. So, borrowers searching Zillow homes in a particular geographic area can identify and connect to the top rated loan officers serving borrowers in that area and get their financing lined up before actually shopping for a home.  In tests, those same LO’s consistently show up on first-page Google search results as well, thanks to Zillow’s standout SEO efforts.

Learn More about MortgageSAT and how it can impact you.

Ready to learn more about STRATMOR’s turnkey survey solution called MortgageSAT, and how rich, drill-down data can help your company? Contact MortgageSAT Director Mike Seminari at mike.seminari@stratmorgroup.com to learn more.