Proficient Turns Site Visits into Business Prospects

Proficient Systems believes many lenders may be overlooking a goldmine of potential leads: their own websites.

The company has developed technology that is designed to help lenders capture more leads from consumers visiting a company's website in search of loan or product information by interjecting a human touch to interact with the most promising website visitors.

Jackson Wilson, chief technology officer, told Mortgage Servicing News that many financial institutions were frustrated by early results from their self-service websites. "People weren't converting at the rates that had been predicted," he said.

While the Internet has proven to be a wonderful marketing tool for commodities like books, music and tickets, it was more difficult to convert prospects for "considered goods" where consumers needed some consultation to decide which option works for them, he said. "It's not often that I refinance my mortgage. It's not often that I buy an insurance policy," Mr. Wilson noted.

These "considered goods" are sold by loan officers and insurance agents that can educate the buyer about options available to them. People often don't trust themselves making decisions alone about "considered goods," so they rely upon an expert rather than just a sales person to guide them through the process. That was a limitation on self-service websites.

By using intelligence to add a proactive "chat" feature to websites, Proficient allows a human expert to start a conversation with a visitor to the site who has been identified as a prospective customer.

This represents a new generation of websites, which are more focused on identifying and reaching potential clients than the self-service sites that financial institutions initially created. The chat technology functions in a manner similar to an 800 number, Mr. Jackson said.

Proficient has developed logistical regression technology to drive interaction with the client, gleaning information about how they are using the site and what computer they are using to determine which visitors are most likely to be converted into clients when a chat screen introduces a human representative offering more information.

Factors used in the data mining algorithm to evaluate a site visitor include the amount of time they spend on the site, the decision to start an application, viewing specific pages on the site, the number of times they have viewed a specific page, the time of day or the day of week when they are visiting and the type of browser the visitor is using. This regression analysis of website visits is a significant resource that is underutilized by financial institutions, Mr. Jackson said.

"It lends itself very well to automated, statistically predictive technology."

In some ways, he says it is comparable to fraud detection technology. "We are approaching people where we see some glimmer of need," he said.

Gregg Freishtat, CEO of Proficient, said financial institutions should view their websites as something more than just a low-cost alternative channel for producing leads. Adding a proactive chat option may increase the cost of operating the site, but that can produce leads more efficiently than other lead generation tools, he said.

"The single most important element is how do you introduce that cost accretively or profitably," Mr. Freishtat said. "We are able to provide for them a richer pool of prospects than they have in any other channel."

To date, Proficient's clients have included E-Loan, E*Trade, H&R Block Mortgage and Huntington National Bank. (c) 2006 Mortgage Servicing News and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.mortgageservicingnews.com http://www.sourcemedia.com

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