02 Oct 2018

4 Ways to Make Your Online Application Process More Successful

Filling out application These days, if your organization doesn’t have an online loan application process, you’re old school in the worst way. Like using a flip phone instead of a smartphone old school. According to a 2017 J.D. Power Survey, online applications are the most common way to submit a mortgage application for both purchase and refinance customers. That’s the first time in the study’s history that this has happened and marks a decided shift into the way loan seekers will act in the future.

So that means you’d better get out and get an online mortgage application up, stat. And if you already have one, you’re good. Right? Right?

Sorry, Charlie. The answer isn’t as simple as yes or no. While 43 percent of people submitted an online application in 2017 (up from 28 percent in 2016), the overall satisfaction of online applicants dropped. In fact, satisfaction declined 18 points from 2016 to 2017 and was behind in-person applications by 10 points in 2018. While your mortgage process may be amazing, if your online application isn’t meeting your mortgage applicants’ needs, you’ll lose them within minutes. And their attention can be lost from anything from poor design, outdated technology, clunky processes, unfriendly optimization…and really, anything else that will cause them to open another tab and apply with your competitor.

But chin up! This article isn’t to make you get all doom and gloom; we’re here to inspire! There are some simple ways to make sure your mortgage applicants stay connected with you throughout the process. Here are SoftVu’s top tricks for making sure your online application process gets you more cheers than jeers.

#1. It’s All About User Experience.

Quick: who’s the biggest demographic of homebuyers these days? Without a doubt, it’s Millennials—the generation that grew up with computers, on-demand and smartphones, and who expect convenience 24/7 when it comes to anything service related. And that includes mortgage applications. They’re looking for an application process that can be completed on whatever device they want—tablet, desktop or smartphone. And it needs to be intuitive and easy to use. Upload documents by scanning from their mobile? Awesome. Unnecessary questions and technical issues that cause lag time or error messages? No way. And not being able to ask questions along the way? That’s a no-go.

The solution? Make it easy. And while that sounds as simplistic as the dieting advice “just eat less!”, it’s also very true. Online mortgage applications, for the most part, are bloated and unnecessarily difficult, with lots of jargon, unimportant questions and technical issues. If you can streamline your online application to only the most necessary information, you’ll see a lot more click-throughs and a lot fewer application desertions.

#2. Don’t Forget the Personal Touch.

Sure, your mortgage leads want to be able to apply on their terms, on their time. That’s the whole purpose of the online application process, right? But the very best online mortgage lenders in the business pair the most cutting-edge technology with top-notch customer service. And we’re not just talking about a call-center. Ever visited a site where a chat box pops up as soon as you visit? Having someone accessible to give advice is essential to making sure you convert those mortgage leads into actual applicants. After all, applying for a loan has a lot of steps—and oftentimes, the applicant has a lot of questions.

So, what’s the answer? Pair a top-notch online application with top-notch customer service. Make sure the customer can reach you whenever and wherever they are. Whether that’s through text, online chat or good old-fashioned phone-calls, being able to reach out and get an actual human being does wonders for building relationships and gaining customers for life.

#3. Follow-through can save the day.

No one likes to be forgotten. And if borrowers submit an online application and hear nary a peep (or only just a few peeps) from you, they’ll think you’ve given them the cold shoulder. And while the initial application process may be as simple as a name, contact info and a few numbers, the actual application process involves documentation, personal information and more…and usually, it takes people more than a few visits to get that all buttoned up. So, you’ll need to be proactive and stay in touch with your mortgage leads on a consistent basis. Nudging them to finish an application. Reminders to provide information. Check-ins to make sure all their questions are being answered. After all, we’re all busy people, and sometimes that reminder is just what we need to get things rolling.

#4. Hire an expert.

Okay, we know that sounds really salesy and self-serving. But here’s the deal. Does your team have the time to do their jobs (which they do amazingly well) and be on top of everything that’s required for a successful online application process? To do that, you have to have superhuman tenacity, as well as more than a few extra hours in the day, we’re guessing. Or you have to hire someone new and have that be their full-time job. That’s a lot of money in overhead. Which is why it can be worth it to hire a company that does lead generation, email automation and conversion full-time, that also offers the most effective online application tool in the industry, and that can assist with all your other marketing needs. It means that they handle the stuff they do well—making sure the UX is on point, providing a friendly face for your consumer and making sure follow-through is solid—so you and your loan officers are freed up to do what you do well, which is getting mortgage applicants the best possible solution for their needs.

Your online application may be a cool tool, but that’s what it is: a tool. In order for it to do what it needs to do, it needs to be the best tool for the job. And that can mean honing the edge, fixing the handle or even replacing it with a new, better-working tool so you can continue to build awesome solutions for your clients.

Reach out to learn about a new solution from Lending Manager that industry leaders are talking about!  Find out how we can help you build a better, stronger business.