A social media presence is pretty much mandatory for any business in today’s world. But it’s not enough for mortgage originators to simply sign up on Facebook and hope for the best. Online reputation management – ensuring that your company looks its best on the internet – is a vital part of any marketing strategy.
“Statistics are pretty clear that online reputation management is an essential activity for anyone wanting to protect, repair, monitor or manage their brand online,” said Ray Brousseau, president of Carrington Mortgage Services. “Four out of five people state that they’ve received advice via social media before they choose a direction on a product or service. Seventy-eight percent of consumers trust peer recommendations – while only 14% trust advertising. Eighty-six percent of people would pay more for services from a company with higher ratings and reviews – and 86% of consumers quit doing business with a company because of a bad experience.”
Those statistics paint a grim picture for mortgage professionals who aren’t cognizant of their online reputation, Brousseau said.
“I think what that underscores is that many clients – in our industry and others – go to social media for advice and counsel, he said. “We know that’s true, so we spend a considerable amount of time making sure that when they get there, what they see is Carrington’s best foot forward.”
Putting your best foot forward means keeping fully abreast of what your customers are thinking, Brousseau said.
“We launched a customer satisfaction campaign about a year and a half ago. We realized that despite our efforts to deliver great service, we didn’t have a way to measure consumer sentiment,” he said. “So we launched a program in which we’re systemically surveying our customer base every single month. We also really drove home to our LOs that they need to take ownership of building their own online reputation – because customers will go online, and they will look for social feedback from other customers. If they search for your name online, you want them to see the most positive and balanced representation of your company.”
It also means being as responsive to customers online as you would be to a customer sitting across your desk from you.
“Companies really need to take an omni-channel approach,” said Tom Shaw, Carrington’s senior vice president of marketing. “Your online reputation is anything your customer can read about you online. Some of the most manageable pieces of a company’s online reputation include your social media presence and your customers’ comments and feedback – so active management of your social media is vital. That means you’re responding to comments and questions that appear on your page. Social media today is becoming a combination of a feedback engine and a customer-service channel.”
So how do you build your online reputation? One way, Shaw said, is simply to ask customers for their feedback.
“A practice here at Carrington is that we ask our loan officers to follow is to ask for reviews,” he said. “We expect that every customer will have a great experience, so when we’re talking to a customer, we let them know that we’re going to ask them for a review at the end.”
“We work with Zillow and LendingTree, which will showcase those reviews,” Brousseau said. “But it doesn’t happen automatically. You’ve got to drive the client to complete those reviews so they’re shared. So right at the beginning, we let the clients know that referrals are very important to us, and we’re going to be asking them for feedback. I probably get, myself, 30 to 35 pieces of recognition a day from clients as well as employees – and I take the time to respond to each of them. It sends a message, from the top of the house down, that customer service is very important to us.”
Here are more tips from Brousseau and Shaw on how to build – and own – your online reputation:
- Build a positive story about your customers’ past experiences
- Reply with an authentic “thank you” when you get a positive review
- When you get a negative review, inquire politely and professionally about how you could have made the customer’s experience better. This will show other prospective customers that you care about the quality of service you provide.
- Make it a habit to discuss and ask for reviews. Don’t wait until the loan closes – tell your customers and partners at the very beginning of the loan process that you’ll be inviting them to provide a review.
- Remind them throughout the process that the review invitation is coming when the loan closes. After it does close, remind them again that they’ll be getting an invitation to review your performance, and that their feedback is important to you and the company.
- Ask for reviews from every customer – and also from real estate agents and other service providers with whom you work
- If you’re asking for a referral, ask for a review
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