The latest research from the Global Reviews Digital Effectiveness Studies for Home loans asks in-market consumers to research, shortlist and select a home loan provider that best suits their needs. The study which researched 200 people during July analyses how this group research for a new home loan by studying their behaviours and channels used to gather information and the reasons why they ultimately chose a specific brand.
The study unsurprisingly found an overwhelming majority (84%) of consumers would research a new provider online. However, almost two-thirds (67%) would also use a home loan broker/provider’s website and exactly half would source information from an aggregator site such as InfoChoice.com.au as an initial way to research a brand.
In addition to researching providers online, 48% stated that they would want interest rate and fee information on the provider’s site and 27% stated that they would also want to apply for the home loan online.
When consumers research and select a home loan provider, there are a number of important elements consumers consider which typically fall into four categories:
• Being a previous/current customer
• Interest rates/fees offered
• Website usability
• Trust in the brand
The blue line in the following chart shows the percentage of consumers that selected a particular home loan provider compared with how well that brand performed across the four categories.
Source: Global Reviews Home loans Digital Marketing Effectiveness. June 2015. n=191
For the Big 4 banks, being a current or previous customer is the top reason for final preference towards a brand. Outside of the Big 4, the providers appear to be gaining preference through trust and pricing, followed by website usability as a supporting reason to prefer a brand.
This means that a lack of trust, issues with rates/fees and poor website usability are causing brands to lose their own customers.
Also, while customer loyalty is a strong reason to select a brand, 59% of consumers who currently have a home loan chose a brand other than their current provider.
Website user experience crucial
In order to assess the usability of home loan websites and how well they perform in relation to other industries, Global Reviews ran a Digital Sales Effectiveness review looking at the customer’s sales journey from their initial engagement with the website through to applying for/opening an account online.
Across the 15 most recent benchmark studies conducted, home loans (AU) was the equal worst performing industry-alongside Energy Retail (AU)-with an overall average of 46%. Meanwhile Personal Loans (AU) was number one with 63%, with Credit Cards (AU), Savings Accounts (AU) and Transactions Accounts (AU) rounding off the top four industries.
This demonstrates the website experience across the home loan industry is weak and inconsistent and more alarmingly, user interaction with a single brand’s website across different products lacks consistency. While personal loans, credit cards and home loans all differ, the general flow and experience on the website should be consistent.
To better understand why the overall digital sales experience for home loans rated so poorly, we researched the customer journey performances across six stages beginning with initial engagement and finishing with applying online.
The chart shows that across the research journey it is possible for a more consistent and engaging online experience. Learning and understanding from each of the top performers could allow for the home loans industry to meet or even exceed the performance of personal loans. Whilst there has been a mild improvement between 2014 and 2015, mapping out the best and worst performers at each stage, it is evident there are no consistently strong performers, thus bringing the overall average below 50%.
The current digital sales experience inconsistency makes it confusing to navigate and prohibits the consumer from finding and understanding the information they’re seeking. This leads to increased effort required by the consumer, which in turn lowers the satisfaction and willingness to recommend the site to others. Consumer confusion also has the added effect of reducing the trust a consumer places with a brand.
The following chart also supports this with consumers requiring more effort to navigate home loan provider websites than those same sites for other banking products. They also reported being less satisfied with the process of researching a home loan, and therefore less likely to refer the website onto friends/family.
These poor scores, coupled with the fact that 17% of consumers stated that they would leave the website and look for another provider if they encountered a problem while researching home loan providers, shows the importance of the home loan industry lifting its game online. With 54% of consumers stating they would typically research between 3-5 providers and an additional 32% researching 6-8 providers, it’s vital that brands do whatever they can in order to stand out from the crowd.
About the study
The report observed 458 ‘in-market’ consumers during May-July 2015 through the Global Reviews’ scientific, customer experience and sales journey measurement tool that uses consumer and best practice inputs. More information about the research methodology can be found here.