8 Ways to Drive Trust in Your Mortgage Industry Brand

No matter what business you’re in, the only thing you’re really selling is trust.

According to the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, the firm’s 14th annual global exploration of trust by industry, “financial services” remains the least trusted industry globally. This is the sixth year running that financial services was the least trusted industry in the Edelman survey.

It is essential that your mortgage industry brand evoke a sense of trust.

According to Edelman, trust is a forward facing metric of stakeholder expectation, unlike reputation, which is based on past experiences with a brand.

Consumers want to know they can trust their lender to do the right thing, give them a fair deal and make it to closing — on time. Mortgage companies want to form business alliances with those they can trust to do the right thing by them. Those who are deemed trustworthy are the winners.

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According to the same survey, the leading factors that drive distrust include:

  • Unethical business practices
  • failing to keep customer information secure
  • irresponsible during a crisis
  • poor working conditions
  • misrepresenting the company

Now, here are some not-so-surprising findings from the same survey. Key trust-building attributes include such items as:

  • Listening to customer needs and feedback
  • Taking responsible action to address issues
  • Placing customers ahead of profits
  • Transparent and open business practices
  • High quality products or services
  • Creating positive impact on local community

So, how can you leverage this information to drive trust in your brand? Here are eight ideas to consider…

  • Acquire certifications, awards and participate in continuing education classes. For example, through the Mortgage Bankers Association, you can earn your Certified Mortgage Banker® (CMB®) designation. The National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) offers 3 levels of certification tied to experience. Each level has continuing education requirements. There are certificates for underwriters as well.

If you’re a technology company, appraisal firm, title company or any other product or service provider, there are opportunities to acquire awards and certifications and make them known to your target audience. Examples could include the Mortgage Technology Awards, the Accredited Senior Appraiser (ASA) designation and others could be the BBB designation or an award for “best places to work” and more.

  • Leverage social media. Social media engagement is unique in that it works for small start-ups and well-established behemoths alike. In a report from eMarketer, 82% of consumers trust a company more if the CEO is active with social media. One doesn’t need to look far to see CEO’s in the mortgage industry actively engaging. Also, 85% of customers expect businesses to be active in social media (source: Vocus). Social media gives your audience a look underneath the hood of your company and is therefore an important trust-building factor. A plan for leveraging your social venues consistently is recommended.
  • Make integrity your No. 1 priority. The definition of trust is a “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” If consumers don’t feel like you’re being truthful and honest, they won’t trust you. So aside from the glaringly obvious of running an ethical business, do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it. In the mortgage industry, the consequences of poor performance can be far-reaching and have a domino effect.
  • Establish a culture of transparency. Similar to integrity, make sure your business practices are transparent and that you invite questions from your customers/loan applicants, rather than avoiding questions and being secretive. This only leaves the impression that you’re not being completely up front. Don’t hide behind the fine print in a contract, and don’t make big promises or overstatements.
  • Become a resource to your customers: Whether it’s a car, big screen TV, a mortgage technology platform, mortgage program, compliance software or any other product or service, we all know that feeling of being “sold,” — when we feel like the salesperson isn’t genuinely listening to our needs and concerns.

So, engage with your customers and concentrate more on being a knowledgeable resource rather than selling them. In addition, communicate with them openly and frequently. If for some reason you’re not able to meet expectations, talking about it in advance will alleviate some frustration.

  • Leverage your brand advocates. According to a Forrester report, 70% of U.S. online adults trust brand or product recommendations from friends and family, and 46% trust consumer-written online reviews, while just 10% trust ads on websites. Positive reviews drive referrals.

Don’t allow the opportunity for positive online reviews to be left up to pure chance as there are many ways to drive them. Here are a few:

      • Use incentives. For example, you could conduct a monthly prize drawing for all who leave a comment about your company on any one of your social media venues.
      • Develop a quality control survey. Ask both multiple choice and open-ended questions. With permission, these could even be published in full or in part.
      • Have a plan and someone in place to react to both positive and negative reviews online. Pay attention to all, not just the positive. Negative reviews can give you an opportunity to shine if handled well. Turn to a communications professional if you have any doubt about how to handle something negative.
      • Use video testimonials from both the end user and business referrers.
      • Develop a case study and publish it to your website and share in social media.

There are several more ways, but now you get the idea.

  • Be consistent. Consistency in your marketing materials shows your prospects that you have a unified voice and know what you stand for. If you appear disparate, it confuses people and sends a poor message.

If you feel like your marketing materials and messages lack consistency, this is a problem that could speak to the internal understanding of your brand. If your brand is not understood internally, you can be sure it’s not understood externally. This could be a reason to conduct an internal brand assessment.

  • Show passion for what you do. Have you ever walked into a store and been underwhelmed by its appearance and/or somewhat surly store clerks who seem to purposely turn and walk the other way when they notice you might need help? On the other hand, isn’t it so satisfying when you feel like your questions and concerns have been adequately addressed by someone who genuinely cares? Enthusiasm is contagious! Everyone wants to be taken care of by someone who seems to truly love his/her job.

When you’re enthusiastic about what you do, it sets the tone for all of your interactions and creates better relationships with clients, prospects and business referrers.Creating a culture of passion for your brand is part of “internal brand adoption,” where all those in your employ understand why you’re different and where you’re going as a company. Having a plan in place for internal adoption of your brand is critical for your success and reduces turnover.

When trust has been lost, it’s very difficult to earn it back. Somehow, faith must be restored. Whether you’re a mortgage banker or a company that provides mortgage-related products or services, trustworthiness is the bedrock of your company and your brand.

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