Chat Option Delivers Human Touch
Excerpted from Mortgage Banking magazine, December 2005 (“Googling for Mortgages”)
by Mary McGarity

For Immediate Release
Contact: John Dempsey

Chat option delivers human touch

JupiterResearch found one of the main reasons consumers did not apply for a mortgage online was they felt the need to interact with a loan agent.  “They wanted to speak to a human to get advice or information, or to receive validation that they were making a good decision, [JupiterResearch’s Asaf] Buchner says.

The use of a chat feature satisfies some of the consumer desire for human interaction, Buchner says. “Chat helps give some confirmation.  Before a consumer goes through what is probably the biggest transaction in their life, they definitely want to know that what they’re doing is right,” he says.

Buchner cites three different chat solutions currently offered by software vendors: chat by request, invitation to chat and co-browse.

            “In its simplest form, a ‘click to chat’ button is placed across all of the application pages,” the JupiterResearch study says. “A more sophisticated approach places the chat button only in application areas where problems were identified,” the report says.

Invitation to chat tracks individual consumers’ behavior on a Web site and invites them to chat if they are identified as having a high sales potential, Buchner explains.

            Co-browse is a feature that allows agents to follow the application with customers, Buchner says.  “When you speak to an agent over the phone or chat with an agent online, the agent takes over your screen and can control whatever you’re doing on your screen.  The agent can click on the mouse and point to where you should put your name or other information.  It helps walk the consumer through the application,” he says.

            Co-browse isn’t being used by many lenders, but the lenders that do use it are seeing good results, Buchner says.  “It’s encouraging people to apply,” he says.

            In its study, JupiterResearch found the costs associated with acquiring chat software and training staff required a fairly high online application volume to make the chat feature cost-effective.

            “Chat in general is expensive, and requires a certain volume on your Web site.  If you don’t have enough traffic it’s not worth it,” Buchner says.  “Also, one of the benefits of online lending is that the customer is doing some of the work, so if you have someone chatting online with the customer, some of the savings is lost.”

            But if the traffic on a lender’s Web site is high enough, a chat feature can increase the level of mortgage applications, Buchner adds.


Chat feature paying off for Wachovia

Ever since Charlotte, North Carolina-based Wachovia Mortgage Corporation added an online chat solution about a year ago, the company has seen a steady increase in the number of online applications, according to Joan Sommerer, Wachovia’s vice president of direct lending.

            Customers who participated in a chat session during the online application process were 25 percent more likely to close their mortgage with Wachovia than those who did not use the chat feature, Sommerer says.

            Wachovia uses Menlo Park, California-based KANA Software Inc.’s Response LiveTM to give mortgage customers the ability to send and receive real-time text messages with a Wachovia Mortgage loan counselor, she says.

            “Engaging customers on our Web site in the chat is really the most important part of the collaboration software that we’ve implemented.  A lot of visitors to the Web site will engage in chat and once they’re comfortable, they’ll either fulfill online or finish the process over the phone, “Sommerer says.


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Incorporated in 1993, Data-Vision focuses exclusively on the mortgage and banking industries.  Data-Vision offers RemoteDocs™.com, LoanQuoter™.com and  Data-Vision focuses on harnessing the power of the Internet by providing tools that allow efficiency and productivity for the mortgage industry.  One of Data-Vision's strengths is the ability to design and implement solutions for the lending industries.  It also provides its users with online, real-time editing capabilities, instead of weekly by-appointment access to document changes. Maintenance and hosting fees are paid monthly, rather than on a long-term contract basis for increased flexibility.

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