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Upgrading Your Web Site to Meet the Needs of Today's Wholesale Mortgage Clients

Keith Bilodeau
Nov 16, 2016

It has been said that innovation belongs to those who are able to stay ahead of the technology curve and be first to bring dynamic business tools to market. But building a mortgage technology platform can be anything but fast, in fact it is a marathon, not a sprint. So, how do you pace yourself while keeping up? How do you ensure that your Web site is responsive to your clients’ needs? By listening, responding, testing … and then testing again. Did we mention testing? While we would agree that there is something to be said about being first to market when it comes to innovation, there is also something to be said for taking a methodical and strategic approach before rolling things out to your audience. Once you launch a new or upgraded Web site, it’s nearly impossible to put the toothpaste back in the tube, so you want to get the wireframe right the first time.

Having a Web site that is innovative requires agility, flexibility and the willingness to evolve with your clients. To determine if your site is meeting the needs of today’s mortgage clients, you need to:

►Ask and listen attentively to ensure your website is representative of your customer needs. Ask questions through formal and informal surveys as a means of gaining customer feedback.

►Be aware of new technology platforms that can help your business be more efficient. This process does not always require an expensive website build. There are “off the shelf” tools that could be well suited for your company, and at a fraction of the cost of the development of a new Web site.

►Choose the right partner if you work with a third-party vendor to help you with this important process. Oftentimes, your company’s Web site serves as the welcome mat for clients looking to interact with your brand. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so if you’re willing to invest in making improvements in technology, you should make sure you choose a partner that understands your business.

►Do an analysis of your tools and systems to know how they stack up compared to what your competitors are using. Find out what clients like and dislike about those sites and keep a list of the things that are important to you and to the clients you are trying to reach. For example, if you are trying to attract Millennials, be sure your Web site is optimized for mobile, includes the ability for social networking, and portrays imagery that reflects the homes that resonate with your target market.

►Take action once you have fully assessed the opportunity and challenges ahead of you. This includes: Determining the changes you need to make; setting the budget you are willing to invest; and assembling the right team to get the job done.

Your team should include vendors or business partners to build or integrate your new technology, key stakeholders to review the plan, and select clients to conduct testing (there’s that “test” word again). Remember, it is your responsibility to constantly ask yourself if your Web site is truly representative of your business and of the clients you want to attract and serve. For example, it may be time to consider a refresh:

►If your Web site has dated content or imagery, or lacks social media crossover.

►If your Web site does not make it easy for a customer to interact with you through a simple contact form. You are doing a disservice to both the customer (they may go elsewhere) and to yourself (no way to track lead volume).

My company, Freedom Mortgage, is a great case study for this process. We took the time and applied the resources to survey our clients, where we learned that many of them felt our technology was not keeping up with the technology solutions offered by our competitors. After much soul searching and enlightenment, we identified a key company stakeholder to lead the charge and set out to design a new Web site that responded to our clients’ needs and suggestions for improvement. We quickly found ourselves in our own technology marathon–enough to conjure up another famous saying about the “best laid plans.” Nearly 12 months since we launched the project, the finish line is in sight and we’ve reached the important testing phase of a newly designed Wholesale Lending Web site. This user-friendly site is set to launch this summer, and promises to deliver, among many other future enhancements, a new LE tool that is designed to greatly improve loan disclosure efficiency.

Just as we are learning about the nuances involved with the launch of a new site, we’ve realized that maintenance is just as important as the build. If you want to stay ahead of the technology curve, make sure you employ a digital team that is knowledgeable and familiar with industry trends. They will be a major key to keeping up with the competition and implementing new functionality as customer needs arise and evolve over time.

Finally, once you implement new technology, make sure you train your employees on how to use it and let your clients know about it! Do a little chest-pounding and make sure your clients know that you listened to them and more importantly, you took action. They will appreciate the responsiveness and your commitment to the success of their business.

Keith Bilodeau joined Freedom Mortgage in 2012 and serves as senior vice president of Wholesale Production. Keith is responsible for overseeing national wholesale sales, recruiting, marketing and Freedom Mortgage’s expansion strategy.

This article originally appeared in the July 2016 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. 

Nov 16, 2016
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