Mortgages Online – Study Shows Banks Letting Business Slip Away

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77% of the 494 Web Mystery Shoppers® participating in a recent study said that they expect to use the Internet to help them decide where to get their next mortgage, but poorly designed bank web sites are turning customers off. One of the top frustrations was banks either not including current interest rate information, or hiding it until after the customer is into the application process.

77% of the 494 Web Mystery Shoppers® participating in a recent study said that they expect to use the Internet to help them decide where to get their next mortgage, and 50% have already researched mortgages online. But after having visited a bank's web site looking for mortgage information, they rated the likelihood of returning to that site as only 2.95 on a 5-point scale, where 5 meant "almost certain" to return.

There is a lot of variation in the results, but even top-scoring Bank of America only rated 3.67 out of 5 on the likelihood of returning. Lowest-ranked on that criterion was BB&T (2.06 out of 5).

One of the top frustrations was banks either not including current interest rate information, or hiding it until after the customer is well into the application process.

"Some banks still don't seem to realize that they can save themselves time and money by letting people do what they want to do: educate themselves and get rate information before contacting the bank," said Tema Frank, president of Web Mystery Shoppers International Inc. (http://www.webmysteryshoppers.com) "If the customer is rate-sensitive, and your rates aren't the best, you are far better off to have them discover that themselves than to make them call a branch! Why waste your staff's time with people who won’t want to do business with you anyway?"

The 25 banks studied are doing a good job of overcoming consumer privacy concerns, with an industry average score of nearly 4 out of 5 on confidence that the bank will respect the shopper’s privacy. Even the lowest ranked bank on this criterion scored neutral, not negative.

The following companies" web sites were studied between May 28 and June 20, 2004: 1st Mariner Bank, Associated Bank, Bank of America, Bank One, BB&T, Chase, Citibank, Compass Bank, EFFCU, Fifth Third Bank, First Tennessee, Green Point, HSBC, ING, National City, Net Bank, Southtrust, Sovereign Bank, Suntrust Bank, US Bank, Wachovia, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo, World Savings, and Zions Bank. They consisted of the largest US banks, and a selection of smaller, regional banks. There was no consistent correlation between the size of the bank and consumer satisfaction.

The study is available for purchase from Web Mystery Shoppers International Inc. http://www.webmysteryshoppers.com or toll-free: 1-866-211-7027.

Web Mystery Shoppers International Inc. helps companies increase sales and lower selling costs. By using large numbers of trained, paid testers, who work from their own computers and provide detailed, page-by-page feedback, about their experience, clients are given insight not only about the web site, but about differences in user perception based on variables like computer and browser systems and Internet experience. http://www.webmysteryshoppers.com Toll-free: 1-866-211-7027.

For further information:

Tema Frank

President, Web Mystery Shoppers International Inc.

Toll-free: 1-866-211-7027 Tel: (780) 444-5645 Cell: (780) 945-7345

tema@webmysteryshoppers.com

http://www.webmysteryshoppers.com

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Tema Frank