When it comes to home buyer habits, the rules are changing. Today, over 90% of home buyers use the internet to help make home-buying decisions. Even if a buyer receives a referral to a mortgage broker from a friend, the first thing they are likely to do is search online for that broker and see what other people have to say about them. Because of this, your online presence is critical. If you have a bad reputation (or no online presence at all), it can cost you thousands of dollars in lost commissions each year.
Mortgage Companies That Are Doing Online Reputation Correctly
Before we dive into the specifics of online reputation and how you can leverage it to grow your mortgage brokerage, let’s take a look at some companies that are nailing their online reputation and see how they’re benefiting from it. All these companies are following the same best practices when it comes to crushing online reputation, so for each company we are going to highlight one specific best practice they are excelling at.
Quicken Loans has secured a best in class customer satisfaction rating for over a decade. While awards such as this are a badge of honor any mortgage company would want to tout, Quicken Loans doesn’t let that become their focus. Instead, they strive to provide the best, most comprehensive client experience every single day. It shows.
One thing that Quicken Loans excels at is following up on customer reviews. Following up on feedback (both good and bad) is a critical element to building a solid online reputation. By following up with all their online reviews, they are showing other potential clients that they truly care about the feedback they give and are committed to making sure the end user’s experience is as good as possible.
Better Mortgage is a direct lender. They have developed a digital mortgage experience that has changed the way people get home loans. They took that process and combined it with exceptional customer support.
One super important element to building online reputation is promoting the good things that happen to your company. Better.com are champions at this. When they get an award from a review site, they don’t just high five each other and go on with their day. Instead, they showcase these victories on their social media channels, letting other people that are investigating their services know about how much their past clients appreciate them. Social proof like this is a big reason they have been able to grow their company so much.
Wyndham Capital Mortgage
Wyndham Capital Mortgage believes that while technology is a great tool for consumers, it should never be a substitute for outstanding customer service. Their mission is to provide their customers with best in class programs, tailored to their specific needs to help them achieve their financial goals. They are in tune with the fact that no two mortgages are exactly the same and they go the extra mile, designing loan programs that will suit each of their customer’s unique needs.
Wyndham Capital Mortgage has many locations. One thing they have done very well is filling out online review profiles for each of their locations. They not only create them, but they also fill the profiles out completely, giving potential clients a full view of the people that work at the branch nearest them, and all the pertinent information they need to get in touch with them.
They also make sure that no matter what branch might get a review that the reviews are responded to in a timely fashion. Again, this leaves a great impression in potential client’s minds and moves them to want to do business with Wyndham Capital.
How To Find Your Reputation Online
So when it comes to running a mortgage brokerage with a fantastic online reputation, the range of programs you offer consumers and the way you manage the loan process and handle their requests are the key ingredients to a healthy online reputation. Before you set out to review your processes and optimize them to ensure you have the best online reputation possible, it’s important to survey the digital landscape to find out what people are saying about your brokerage’s loan services online. But where do you start?
A Simple Google Search
The first stop you have to make in your search to survey your online reputation is at Google. Open up a search window and search for “Your Mortgage Company Name Reviews” and “Your Name Reviews”. This is a great first place to find a curated list of places people are talking about you and your mortgage services online.
You’ll likely see reviews from places like Google Reviews, Yelp, and other popular online review sites. If you haven’t already done so, what you want to do is set up an account on each of these sites so you can “claim your business”. Claiming your business will allow you to edit your profile and respond to reviews. Responding to reviews is important as it allows you to thank those that give you glowing reviews and work to fix any problems that you may find from clients that were not as satisfied with your services.
*Pro Tip: Do this same process with your local competition and see if/how they are being rated and more importantly using and responding to those ratings. If there are any platforms or areas they’re ignoring, double down on those for a competitive advantage.
Scan Your Social Media Profiles
Next, you’ll want to check out all your social media profiles. Undoubtedly you have posts you’ve put online that people have commented on. The comments people leave on your social posts are just as important when it comes to public perception as the reviews people give on review sites. Go back through prior posts to get a feel for the sentiment of those that are following you online. Much like you did with the Google Search, when you see comments (good or bad), take a moment to reply to them. When a potential client is checking you out online and they see that you not only are active on social media but also take the care and time to acknowledge and reply to people’s comments, this goes a long way to fostering a positive overall feeling.
Go To Industry Forums/Websites
Every industry has websites or forums that are the main websites people look to for information. When it comes to the mortgage industry, websites like Zillow.com, Trulia.com, and LendingTree.com are big ones you definitely want to pay attention to. Make sure you have accounts on these sites, claim your profiles where possible and jump into the conversation and make sure you’ve got places for people to leave reviews for your and your business.
How To Boost Your Online Reputation
Now that you have a good idea of what people are saying about you and your mortgage brokerage online, it’s time to come up with a plan for increasing your online reputation in any areas that might need some assistance and overall get more reviews.
Set Your Business Up On Review Sites
The first pitfall many mortgage brokers fall victim to is they simply make it hard to get online reviews because they haven’t properly claimed and set up their pages on the leading online review sites. The important key here is you want to be everywhere your clients hang out online, so you need to make sure to set up your page in all those places. The specific sites you want to be sure are ready to accept reviews are:
- Google Reviews
- Your Facebook Business Page
Make sure your profile is fully filled out on these sites. Next, to get them looking “lived in”, send emails out to your top 10% of clients asking them to go to each of these sites and leaving a review. Because they are in your top 10%, chances are you’ve done lots of deals with them and they value you very much. Even though this is a big ask, because you’ve always taken care of them, they are likely to be happy to return the favor by honoring your request.
Give Incentives To Get The Reviews Started
Nobody wants to feel like they are “buying” reviews, but the truth is when you don’t have reviews, it’s a little bit of a chicken and egg situation. If you don’t have them, people aren’t likely to leave them. Once you start to get them though, people are much more likely to see that and want to also leave you a review. To get things started, incentivize your reviews.
Why not let any past clients know that if they give you a review online, you’ll give them a gift card to Starbucks or Amazon. If you think about it, while that does cost you money, the amount of money you will make from someone seeing lots of reviews online and deciding to do business with you is exponentially larger, so financially it just makes sense.
Pro Tip: We’ve done this gift card for review strategy a few times and we’ve found $10 gift cards are the perfect incentive to get a nice collection of reviews without breaking the bank.
One popular tactic mortgage brokers use is a drawing. Email your database and let them know you are having a contest. For each review they give (remember, you have multiple review sites), they’ll receive an entry in the drawing. Then, for the prize, pick something big. For instance, maybe some rounds of golf at the local Country Club, or a two night stay in a not so far away bed and breakfast. In other words, something people will really want.
When the drawing day comes, pick one name out of the hat and let them know they won. Not only that, promote the heck out of your contest and the winner on social media and you’ll get even more exposure, which will entice people to engage with you the next time you do this because they will experience fear of missing out.
How To Use Reviews To Promote Your Business
Today, when people want to complain about a business, they don’t simply have to rely on word-of-mouth and the person to person “virality” that would slowly build over time from a bad experience. Today they can go online, leave their review, and it’s there for the whole world to see.
While this may seem daunting, it’s also a great opportunity. Working hard to serve your clients and making sure they are satisfied will get them to want to go online and give you a great online review. Those reviews actually help increase your search engine optimization rankings because reviews count as unique, ongoing content about your brand and that is one of the things search engines look for.
When you see these reviews come in, highlight them. First, give thanks to the person that left the review. This will potentially continue the conversation, getting you more exposure online. Next, push the review out to all your social media channels. One very important pro-tip here is to be sure to tag the post with the reviewer’s social media handle for the particular platform you are promoting the review on. Again, this will potentially start a conversation with this person to further online exposure. When they make a comment to your post, their friends (all potential home buyers) will see the post, allowing your brand to grow virally. Lastly, feature the reviews somewhere on your website. According to studies, it takes a consumer an average of seven times to see an ad before they start to recognize a brand. By putting your reviews on your website, you are giving them one more channel that will show up in online searches when they search for their home loan needs, giving you one more opportunity to solidify your brand in their minds.
Highlight Positive Reviews To Get PR
Positive reviews are key to increasing online traffic and influencing people to explore doing business with you. If you can amass an inventory of great, positive reviews, and success stories, you can influence journalists or even attract the eyeballs of online influences that might want to highlight your brokerage.
For journalists, start by putting together a media kit that you can send them. The media kit should be a combination of some of your best client reviews, some success stories that detail someone notable you helped, or some extreme situation you helped a client overcome, and then perhaps some statistics that show how you compare to other mortgage brokers in your marketplace. The whole purpose of this kit is to highlight to them specific examples of why people think you are exceptional.
When it comes to online influencers, you probably want to get a little more high-tech in trying to attract them to endorse you online. The best plan of attack is to approach them with the media they are used to absorbing. Putting together a brief video package that visually displays all the things that you would want to send to journalists is a great way to accomplish this.
Use Customer Feedback To Improve Your Mortgage Services
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to note that reviews are a fantastic resource to use to quickly and easily identify and solve issues with your mortgage business. Your online reviewers are going to be honest about the work you did for them. Examine any issues they raise and put steps in place to remedy those issues.
While that may not solve the problem raised in the initial review, it will ensure that this issue won’t arise for any other clients. That means over the long haul your review scores and how customers feel about you will increase, boosting your overall online reputation.
Engage Your Customers
You can easily build brand loyalty by replying to a client’s review. Whether you thank them for their business, acknowledge the constructive feedback they offer, or request additional feedback, responding to a client’s review makes them feel seen and appreciated by you and your mortgage company and will help to establish a client-business relationship that boosts and solidifies your customer base.
You can also use reviews to salvage poor customer experiences. Let’s say, for example, a client posted a bad review about a loan you did for them. You can quickly connect with them to inquire about what went wrong, what steps you might be able to take to satisfy them, and what you can do to restore their trust in your brand.
Tools To Manage And Automate Online Reputation
Once you’ve got a good baseline understanding of where you are and the things you need to do to improve your online reputation, there are tools you can use to help manage and even automate the process.
One of the easiest ways to keep a finger on the pulse of what people are saying about you and your mortgage business is by simply setting up a Google Alert. In a couple of simple steps, you can set up your alert that will notify you anytime your business name or your name is mentioned online.
For your mortgage company, set up an alert for the name of your mortgage brokerage, and your name to start. Then, for competitive intelligence, set up alerts for the names of two or three brokerages in your marketplace that are competitors. Lastly, for bonus intelligence, to get your finger on the pulse of what people in your marketplace think about the mortgage industry in general, you could always set up alerts for a combination of the city/marketplace you work in plus the term mortgage. As you can see, you can easily get super granular and gain lots of information you wouldn’t necessarily fine by simply searching yourself online.
Awario is a social listening tool that makes managing your brokerage’s online reputation very easy. This platform tracks mentions of your mortgage brokerage across all major social networks and on the web in real-time. Even better, you can respond to reviews, no matter what channel they came in from, directly from the platform itself.
For the busy mortgage professional, this is an excellent option. Awario allows you to manage everything from a single interface. Another great feature this system has is a breakdown of the top influencers that are talking about you or your mortgage company. So if you are figuring out a strategy for how to give thanks and highlight the people or brands that are your biggest fans, this platform takes all the guesswork out of it. All you have to do is look at your influencer column and you have all the information you need.
Reputology helps mortgage brokers track their online reviews. Apart from the common review platforms like Google and Facebook Reviews, Reputology monitors industry-specific review sites, so you can load in all your mortgage-related review sites and manage reviews for those as well. When you get a new review, you can easily respond to the review from the application interface.
This may be the best platform for mortgage brokers, especially if you are not a technology enthusiast. The platform has a very to use interface that is reminiscent of many social media posting platforms. Set up listening for all your social and review site channels and all you have to do is log in once or twice a day and you’ll see exactly who you need to respond to and any potential issues that my need addressed right at the top of the feeds.
Tune-up Your Online Reputation, Fire Up Your Mortgage Business
Online reputation is not going away. As the digital landscape gets more and more crowded, your online reputation is going to become more and more important. Brokerages that give the best services and have the most online positive reviews are going to be rewarded with the most business. Getting involved in actively managing your online reputation now will ensure that you are at the forefront of this movement, ensuring that your brokerage is healthy and growing for years to come.