ABOUT THE VENDOR
PAR3 Communications is a provider of proactive, multi-channel alert and response solutions. Businesses use PAR3 to engage customers in cost-effective, real-time conversations to improve customer relationships. PAR3's Intelligent Response Platform helps companies leverage their enterprise-level data to exchange personalized alerts with their customers via telephones, pagers, hand-held web devices, fax machines, and email.
ABOUT THE CUSTOMER
Quicken Loans offers residential mortgages and a wide variety of mortgage products, including conventional, alternative, home equity, jumbo, and government loans. At the Quicken Loans Web site, customers are able to interact with one of over 300 loan officers to shop and compare multiple loan products, get pre-approved directly online, and fully participate in the loan process.
ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY
PAR3's Intelligent Response Platform is an XML-based solution that uses existing customer data to turn virtually any customer device into a highly personalized interactivity springboard. PAR3 enables companies to send their customers proactive, personalized, response-enabled alerts via the medium the customer prefers -- landline or wireless phone, PDA, fax, or email. Alerts are also actionable -- customers can connect to a live voice at a customer support center, purchase a product/service, or forward information to a friend, spouse, or assistant.
Quicken Loans was looking for a technology that would make customers happy while improving bankers' productivity. SearchCRM spoke with Anna Allred, product manager for Quicken Loans, about the project.
SearchCRM: Why did you decide to evaluate CRM solutions?
Allred: We were looking for better ways to serve our customers, and our CEO has always been focused on the idea of integrating technology into the mortgage process. We've always had the feeling that the industry is too slow to move.
Mortgages are pretty much a commodity. All the banks pay the same amount of money for a loan, so it's the service that differentiates you.
SearchCRM: Do you have a traditional CRM system on top of this?
Allred: We do call management and some retention marketing, but we haven't put any of the larger CRM systems in place to date.
SearchCRM: Did you look at any vendors other than PAR3?
Allred: No. When we heard about PAR3, we thought it was a great idea, so we just went for it. It sounds crazy, but to date, PAR3 was the one vendor that we've worked with that integrated as seamlessly as they said it would, and whose product did exactly what they said it would.
SearchCRM: How did the integration go?
Allred: PAR3's team learned all about our system, wrote a spec that worked with our system, and after two weeks of integration it was done.
SearchCRM: Were they any challenges?
Allred: Technologically, there were no challenges. Psychologically, there were. Bankers by and large expect that computers and technology can't replace them. Initially, we had a hard time getting the bankers to convert and use this technology. We have a subset of bankers that love technology, but a majority are not comfortable with it.
SearchCRM: How did you get around the bankers' resistance?
Allred: We set it as a default. They can turn the service off, but they don't need to turn it on. And it was amazing, because all of a sudden they were getting fewer status calls, but they didn't quite understand why. I knew it was because the customers were getting the automated e-mails and voice mails, and that was all they needed. So the customers were happy, and the bankers were happy.
SearchCRM: What have been the results of the new system?
Allred: Before we had PAR3, the bankers were spending up to eight hours statusing a loan through the life of a loan -- that's a lot of time they could spend originating other loans. It makes our customers happy and it makes our bankers more productive.
SearchCRM: How does the PAR3 system work in your day-to-day operations?
Allred: Right now, a customer will apply online or over the phone, and we'll input all their contact information and loan information. There is a button that bankers can use to turn the PAR3 on or off (the default is on).
We send the consumers a package via Federal Express. When they get the package, they sign the documents and send them back, and we begin processing the loan. When we originate that package and ship it out, we send the consumer a message so they know it's on the way. When they send the package back to us, we send them a message saying that we've got it and will begin processing. Then when we get full approval, we send a message to let them know.
Those are the three most critical messages that people call in the most about, so we figured we'd hit those first.
SearchCRM: How do you send the messages?
Allred: We had been doing e-mail for the last couple of years, but people don't always check their e-mail. We find that sending via phone with the PAR3 service is more mobile. We can send the message to their cell phones and all they have to do is touch one button to be connected back with their banker. They can also forward the message on to their realtor, lawyer, or spouse -- there are always other parties involved in a real estate transaction.
SearchCRM: How has consumer response been?
Allred: It's been great. We're an online mortgage company, so people expect us to think out of the box. We have found in our surveys that having this service has differentiated us, and improved our brand and our position with people. People have loved the service, and have said that they'd come back specifically because of the service.
SearchCRM: Do you have any advice for people who are starting a similar project?
Allred: Think out of the box. Go to the extreme as far as what customer experience your customer should have. Then start finding the pieces that will fit that experience. They're out there -- we're no longer tied to a desk and a phone.
Linda Formichelli's writing appeared this year in Woman's Day, Wired, Writer's Digest, Family Circle, Psychology Today. Contact her at email@example.com, or check out her Web site http://www.twowriters.net
This was first published in October 2001