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3 Keys to a Better Customer Experience

Guaranteed Rate may be the fastest-growing privately-held company in Chicago, largely because it pounced on customer experience as a differentiator.
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After being in the digital marketing industry for over 17 years, I know that one of the best ways to learn is by studying those that have found success.  In an effort to continue learning, I've been sitting down with senior marketing leaders who are providing cutting-edge digital marketing solutions. Recently, I spoke with Bob Armour, CMO at Guaranteed Rate, to learn about the strategy behind one of Chicago's top privately-held companies. According to Crain's Chicago Business, Guaranteed Rate has the fastest revenue growth of any private company based in Chicago. Guaranteed Rate is now the 8th largest retail mortgage company nationwide, up from 16th in 2012.

Guaranteed Rate has done an excellent job of identifying and alleviating pain points in the mortgage process, paving a great path of differentiation for the brand. Guaranteed Rate improves the customer experience through three main strategies:  technology, transparency, and education.

Technology

Armour understands that many people don't understand or like the mortgage process, partly because mortgage companies rely on archaic, manually-driven processes.  Guaranteed Rate saw the industry's lack of innovation as an opportunity, and has invested in technology as one of its main differentiators.

The entire mortgage process, which can last almost two months, can be confusing and difficult for borrowers to navigate. To streamline it, Guaranteed Rate launched a new online tool that allows customers to apply for a mortgage, get credit scores, choose their loans and receive conditional approval in 15 minutes, helping to alleviate a pain point and improving the overall experience.

Marketers should take note.  There's a huge opportunity to improve the customer experience by using technology.  Leverage existing technology or create your own to make your customer's lives easier.

Transparency

One of the most frustrating things about mortgages is that consumers find them difficult to understand. They generally do not understand what's going on during the application and approval process.  Guaranteed Rate makes a very active effort to provide transparency with access to online information that educates customers about what they need to do to shop for a mortgage, the documents they'll need to provide, and the expected timing and steps.

Guaranteed Rate has developed a simple app that lets borrowers track their loan status in real time. The app also sends emails that update borrowers regularly on key steps in the process.

In the mortgage industry, this commitment to transparency really stands out. In my talk with Armour, he said, "If you've ordered a pizza online, [an app] tells you where your pizza is.  That's a $5.99 transaction that takes 30 minutes.  We've got a $400,000 transaction that takes 45 days.  If consumers are expecting this for pizza, you've got to believe that they're going to expect it for a house."

The more transparent you can be, the better you will be at building trust with your customers.

Education

Guaranteed Rate has an excellent content marketing strategy that is designed to educate the consumer.  In addition to its social media channels, the company offers free e-books that help customers navigate the complexities of buying a home and refinancing. The e-books are straightforward, written for the layman, and are a great way for Guaranteed Rate to establish itself as a resource for prospective homebuyers.

In addition, Guaranteed Rate runs Partner Xchange, a free service providing tools and content for realtors. That helps realtors cultivate leads, and helps both the customer and agent close a deal faster. These content strategies are great for both search engine optimization and for helping prospective customers learn about the mortgage process.

The content makes realtors' lives easier, enabling them to better assist customers. Like Guaranteed Rate, make sure your content is produced with the customer's questions and goals in mind. Pinpoint what they need and explain it plainly. Content should educate, entertain or inspire your audience. If you can accomplish one of these three targets, you will be on your way to providing a better customer experience.

Last updated: Jul 2, 2013

JON MORRIS | Founder and CEO of Rise Interactive

Jon Morris is the founder and CEO of Rise Interactive, a digital marketing agency in Chicago which specializes in digital media and analytics.




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