Scott Payne, CEO of SDP Solutions sits down with Mike Eshelman, head of consumer finance at Jornaya to talk about his journey into the mortgage world as well as implementation of systems and processes used by his company today. He shares his insights on user adoption and training of Loan Officers as well as ways companies can improve their management. They dive into subjects such as SWAT Teams, shark tanks, screenings, dialers, and lead scoring.
Mike, will you share some of your background and history?
I've been in mortgage for 15 years. Similar to you, I started on the loan origination side. I was sitting in the seat as a consumer direct lender, taking leads, taking phone calls. This does go back into the day, where my method of managing leads was that I would receive an email that I had a new lead notification, I created a few folders in Outlook and start dragging leads into hot, warm, cold and just kind of managing them, dragging them back and forth that way.
I enjoyed it. However, my passion was more on the marketing side. I ended up joining a lead generation company where we would sell leads into mortgage companies. I really got a good understanding of how mortgage companies and marketing executives were viewing campaigns — from all the metrics and managing filters— and really got some good ideas from that. I ultimately went to work at a mortgage company on the marketing side where I led marketing for First Direct Lending, which is where you and I really got to know each other.
While I was there, one of my vendors was Jornaya. I was leveraging the data I got from Jornaya and after a little bit of time, two and a half years of working with Jornaya, I reached out to them. And one thing led to the next and here I am heading up consumer finance and enjoying every minute of it.
What does your role consist of today at Jornaya?
First for some background on Jornaya, we're a data company. We sat between lead buyers and lead sellers providing additional data on leads. We've since grown quite a bit to where we map out the entire consumer journey — essentially consumers’ behavior online, and we help marketers make better marketing decisions, leveraging that data. My role is really to work with lenders and banks to understand the data, so they can get more strategic about their marketing efforts as it relates to timing, messaging, phone calls, and delivering the right content to the right person. Along with working with banks and lenders, I also want to stay in tune with what's happening in mortgage to make sure Jornaya is really on the forefront, understanding the data that we have and how we can best serve our mortgage clients.
You start to integrate it with various systems like the lead management systems that people may be using. There are all kinds of cool stuff you can do there. Going back on the past a little bit, you talked about your history as a lender and you mentioned me as your Velocify account manager making magic together there and the things that we did. Your system was always a little bit more dialed in than others.
What are some of the techniques and strategies, such as the speed-to-contact attempt, at a high level that you find work best in your setups and to meet the needs of your growing mortgage business?
I was very fortunate when we opened up the mortgage company. I was there to set everything up before any production was there and I knew Velocify at the time was the best lead management system to use for what we wanted to accomplish. I got to play around and set things up before any production loan officer was using it. I had the benefit of playing around with it quite a bit and not risking messing up anything. When we opened up, it was five loan officers, so it was pretty easy to communicate with them to see what's working and what's not working to test out a lot. As the business scaled and as we got up to over a hundred loan officers, there was just this good methodical growth of testing, testing and testing, and it was plugging in things like Volley in their email communication tool where you can see the behaviors, the interactions with consumers, and then being able to leverage those behaviors into a prioritization strategy.
That was one thing, but overall, I was really just obsessed with speed-to-contact attempt. As we know, that's incredibly important when buying leads and serving the customer right when they click the submit button; they want to be contacted right away. I was really obsessed with that and watching that like a hawk, because the faster we got, the better we would perform on leads and overall just tracking efficiency. I enjoyed figuring out how we can scale the process from being really good with five loan officers, which is pretty easy, to have a great process with five loan officers. It's harder when you scale it and having that groundwork, that foundation of creating a culture of feedback from loan officers was one of the best things I ever did.
I would say, "Hey, I just want to sit down for a couple of hours with some of your loan officers." And it's not sitting down with the best ones, it's sitting down with the average ones to say, how are you using it? What's working? What's not working? And a lot of that resulted in me finding hiccups in the process, finding inefficiencies, and then realizing, "Hey, this is how I can fix that or here's how we can tweak that." And it was really just having an open line of communication and paying attention to what they were doing, as opposed to what I know some folks do. I knew I wasn't the smartest person in the room but collecting all the information, all the recommendations from all the loan officers really helped create that sense of a really well-tuned machine in the lead management process.
You and me were back there in your office, sitting with the call screener team at the time, and literally a couple of changes were made right then just walking into your office. That's kind of the beauty of having these solutions that allow you to be nimble as a business in making those decisions.
I have written an article written about the SWAT team and how everyone should have a SWAT team that has access to other things. One way that was at the bottom of the article was that the SWAT team, which are the best of the best people to advise the administrator on best practices that they see and what they feel and that way there is the ability to run through these ideas that are really good.
The top people are buying into that because if they buy in, some of the average to lower performers will be saying, "Okay, well, if I want to be the best and this person thinks that's the best way, maybe that's how I need to buy into it" and it helps with user adoption. User adoption obviously is a major obstacle when launching any type of technology but when it comes to a lead management system, as we both know, it's super critical.
Going back to the early days, you said you started with five, but as you started to scale, you were bringing in new loan officers in many ways.
Could you explain some of the ways and techniques of things that you did for user adoption of the system to get out of the mentality of those loan officers who may have been stuck even in the way they've always done it?
There are people who come, if they're the most talented and they're not going to have excuses, right? They own their production. They raise their hand when they need help. They raise their hand when they see something wrong. You just have that team where if they say, "Hey, something's not working right or I don't think this is the best way to do it." They're the best loan officers; they're giving some advice that you should pay attention to. I would constantly be talking to that group while also sitting down with your main average bulk of your loan officers to see how they're using it. Those two things combined gives you some really valuable intel. And when you have new loan officers that come in saying, "Oh yeah, we've used the system before, and this is how we did it. And this is how I'm going to continue to do it even though it's not in line with the operations we want," it helps because when you sit them down to train on the floor on all of the systems, if you're putting him down with members of that SWAT team, they're going to learn through their peers that this is a really good setup to have. It's really well dialed in.
Then they start to buy in from them, but you wouldn't lock the, "Hey, we've tested this, we've documented this." Every time I did an orientation and the training on the system, I wasn't just saying do this because it's the way we do it. It's we do it this way because when we tested X and Y and here's some of the results we saw. I'm continually testing and they know that I'm continually trying to improve the system and I care about their production.
It really created that environment of like, "Hey, I need to give this a shot." Now, once they got in a seat after a week or two goes by, they start to fall into there. That's really the carrot and the stick. So, if you do things a certain way in the system, you get rewarded. If you do things that we don't want you to do, if you're skipping leads and not following the prioritization, you're going to lose access to things you want.
The shark tank is a great example of that, that we implemented, which were approved applications. Those would sit there accessible to some of the best loan officers, or at least that group of average loan officers that were doing things the way you wanted it, them to do it. Those were extremely valuable. Loan officers would be getting a deal a week out of there pretty easily by just dipping into the shark tank. Everyone wanted access to the shark tank. In order to do that, you have to do X, Y, and Z. If you don't, you're not going to have access to it and so that would really help kind of create that user adoption because you really just need to change that habit, which takes a few weeks. Once they change the habit, once they see the light and realize, they can come to me with good suggestions and I'll look into it, possibly test it. There is that open door for that, then that creates the environment of, you don't have to do things the way we do it because we're telling you to do it that way. We're doing it this way, because it's the best performing way we know how right now, but we're always testing, testing and testing. So, that's the way I found the best to get user adoption from my standpoint.
There is the open door of, "Hey, if you see something that you think makes sense, let us know and we can talk through it." Especially when people are coming in from other organizations some other good ideas are brought from there as well.
In that culture, I've always been a firm believer in, yes, the open door policy, but a lot of people don't feel comfortable coming into your office and so me getting out of my office to go to them, to walk the floor, to sit down, cut out hours in my week to make it a point to sit with the loan officers and see how everything's going, even just shadowing them, not even talking to them, just watching them do their thing. That lowered the barrier where they know they can come to me any time and say, "Hey, this is what I'm witnessing. Hey, I think something's wrong. Or Hey, can we test this out?"
Everyone who is in this space could use that as a great takeaway as to setting and blocking time on your calendar to go sit with users and watch them. It's something I do on every assessment that for every organization to go in and try to figure out and make recommendations. It's very difficult to make recommendations on things without sitting with the user and watching. To Mike’s point earlier, it is important to sit with a top performer, a middle performer and a bottom performer. It is also interesting to sit with a user who started in the last 60 days to see what things in training resonated with them and what things may be needed to retrain on for people coming out of training.
Make sure it's a requirement on every assessment to sit with these users and kind of watch and literally all you do is watch. You don't have to interrupt them. They don't have to talk to you. It's really just watching. If someone's clicking on something to do an action or some type of function, they may take seven or eight clicks on their mouse. Then try to find a way to make it two and make their lives easier. They save more time, so they can focus on more customers down the road. Going back to 2015, at the soft view summit, I did a presentation back then. The customer experience screening, which essentially screens all 50 lenders on how they responded to leads
Learn more about Scott Payne’s lead experience screening secret shop
and how they called and emailed and did all those things.
An award was given away for the company that had the best experience out of the 50 lenders, and the award went to Mike Eshelman.
Will you talk about the value that you found in working together and using that data to make decisions on how the system was set up?
We are in a great setting at the summit, we were in the suite and the outfield at the Royals stadium. The bomb was dropped that Scott secret shopped to everyone. I think I heard the entire room shift and probably sink in their seat a little bit out of embarrassment of what may be unveiled here shortly.
It was hysterical and it was amazing. It was so valuable to see what it's actually happening because until that moment, I have my administration screen. I have my lead prioritization. I have my marketing automation engine going out. If a loan officer schedules an appointment, it cues up a priority call at the time of the appointment, like all that stuff I felt was buttoned up, but you don't know until you experience, like what's the reality? What's actually happening on the other end.? And what is that customer experience like? Which is hugely important. Because if the customer has a good experience, get follow up and a good marketing communication, you have a much better chance of converting them. So, it was nice to see everything mapped out. Here's when the call went, here's when the email went out, it was even tested where the email was opened and engaged with which prioritized a phone call, because again, we were tracking that behavioral data of when the most interested point is.
Scott spoke to a loan officer and said, "Oh, you know what? I'm a little busy right now, can you call me back tomorrow at 2:30?" And now we get into, yes, you have a lead management system. You can configure it the best way possible but there's also this human element involved because it just so happened that the loan officer who was supposed to call you back was going to have to leave the office a little early for a family emergency. He wasn't going to be able to make the phone call. He called Scott back. He shot you a message and said, "Hey, unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to make this. Can we reschedule?" As much as you can have this high technology, you also have to have this human element and the training involved as well but I don't know if there had been a more valuable tool that I had with them, being able to see something documented out my contact strategy.
A couple years later this was tested and there were some holes and seeing those holes, yes, we were testing, we're implementing new strategies. We were continually modifying the system to try and get better, better and better. And through doing that kind of lost sight on a couple of things out in left field. Not only doing an assessment once and doing a secret shopper once, but continually doing it is important. I would argue quarterly would be something good to have because A, you can see where you're improving. B, you can see if you're losing sight on something that you shouldn't be losing sight on and how to fix it. It was fantastic. It was a great experience. I'm really glad Scott did that for sure.
Some of the interesting things too that we found is that typically when these are being done, the leads are being put in to really get a good experience as to what might happen like a Tuesday morning after the Monday lead flow has slowed down. Where you can really get strategic is what happens when your customer goes online at 5:00 PM on a Saturday. One of the biggest missed opportunities for lenders today is that they have users who are making a connection with somebody. We're always about speed to lead and what the strategy is to call somebody back on a certain time period, to get them on the phone.
Not a lot of organizations today have a really good system set up for when you make contact and how you follow up with that customer when you call them back at 2:30 and they don't answer. When is the next time you call them and how is that tracked and what happens if they don't make the call who's going to make the call? There is lot of opportunity there and a number of companies now have put things in place to take the lead back. Maybe it gets sent back to the screen team and let them follow up and transfer either back to that user or somebody else.
Mike talked about speed to contact and how he became passionate about that. So, he eventually implemented a high-power dialer at First Direct Lending in conjunction with his lead management system.
Will you talk about some things that you were seeing in the decision to move to that type of dialer and what some lenders are who might be considering that type of thing?
The integration and the implementation of a dialer with our lead management system. I mean, it was a beast, it's a big project. There's a lot to consider. I reviewed a lot of different dialing systems. We ended up settling in only one after not only meeting with them and having a discussion with my lead management system about what the integration would look like, but brought in IT, brought in sales. I mean, it was a big decision and ultimately, we were looking for more firepower predictive dialing more robust, automated voicemail messages being left, more of an Omni-channel approach where we can integrate chat into the call center, so it gets routed to the right person and tracked. There is a lot involved. Thankfully, saving grace here with us was we had Mike Toronto who helped with the implementation. He's phenomenal because, it took a lot of time, energy and effort, all of which while maintaining the current system and your current role of marketing. It's a lot to consider for sure.
Overall, the mentality of, "Hey, we just want to make more dials" doesn’t necessarily mean you want to implement a dialer because more dials doesn't mean more production. More of the right dials to the right people at the right time and creating a more personalized experience is useful and is beneficial and positive ROI will come along with that. But if you're making $15,000 a day and you want to see how to get to $50,000 a day, that doesn't mean you're going to quadruple your production. It was a big decision and there was a lot of nuts and bolts that came along with it. We definitely had some hiccups along the way, but overall it ended up being a good decision, a good move for what we wanted to do.
High level conversion rate increases any metrics around, so will you talk about what that did for the business and what you saw?
We did see a pick-up which gave me additional visibility to measuring contact rate on every single dial attempt. When we talked about prioritizing leads and who to call first, I knew exactly contact attempt one, what my contact rate was, and Contact attempt two, what my contact rate was. It gave us an additional layer of data that we can be a lot more granular in our analytics about who to call and when. We foundd long tail leads, really aged leads that we didn't really get to as much as we wanted to because I mean, look, age leads, they're still golden as hell. It's a needle in a haystack. It's really difficult to find those leads that are still there. But when you combine leveraging behavioral data in the aged lead pile along with some really cool, powerful boarding tools that came along with the dialer. We were able to zero in on exactly which leads showed interest at a time that we would otherwise considered that leads dead and just kind of thrown into a nurture campaign.
Coming back to present time, as director of consumer finance at Jornaya, will you talk a little bit about the services Jornaya provides and how you are seeing lenders use some of the products they have to manage their leads better?
Going back to Jornaya originally back in the day, it was about providing additional data intelligence on the leads you buy, as well as TCPA protection. The Jornaya one-on-one is we have a script of code that lives across over 30,000 websites focused on major life purchases, mortgage, real estate insurance auto education and so we see the consumers are lending on these pages. We witnessed them filling out forms and we collect a lot of data about those individual lead events. The way I engaged with Jornaya originally when I was a client, was when I received a lead, whether it came from our own website or we bought it from a third-party aggregator. I would know immediately in real time, yes or no, were TCPA disclosures present? Were they visible? Were they near the submit button? So I could feel safe and dialing because TCPA is a big concern.
If you're going to use an auto dialer, you have to make sure that you have not only TCPA, but you have proof of consent in case a lawsuit or whatever arise. You can reference that individual lead event, get the proof that you need. But along with that, there's a lot of data intelligence points that come. So yes. I received first name, last name, email phone address, and all the regular data points that came along with it. But when recreated Jornaya in real time I would get back, how long was that consumer engaged on the forum? How many other forms did they fill out across the ecosystem in the past week or month? And all of these data points delivered me information about their level of intent. So whenever I saw consumer was engaged in the form between three and seven minutes, my application rate was 34% higher on that population.
I'm going to prioritize those consumers differently than I'm going to engage with other consumers that were on the page for longer. Also, when we saw that consumers were filling out for more lead forms in the past 30 days, we saw the rate at which those applications were declined were substantially higher. So what we get from that is I would see a consumer fill out a form multiple times because they're getting declined by all these lenders. I would treat those leads, maybe only try and engage them with phone call attempts, and then bury it unless they were to raise their hand because I don't want to waste dials a population of consumers that will likely be declined.
Now fast forward, a year ago, Jornaya launched our activate platform, which now take us out of only operating between the lead buyers and the lead sellers. We can work with anyone; monitor a list of the consumers they care about and inform them when that consumer is back actively shopping around for a mortgage. Beyond that, are they looking for a refinance? Are they looking for a purchase? So imagine monitoring a database of your old customers, your old leads maybe leads you just bought a few weeks ago. We can tell you when they're back bouncing around so you can time the next phone call. If it's a really age lead or an age customer from years ago and you start to get information that they're in market for purchase.
You can personalize that engagement so that an email you're sending out is purchase related. Or the team that's calling out on that customer is a purchase team for someone who loves doing purchase transactions. So it really helps get hyper-focused to really deliver the right message, the right person at the right time. We're witnessing over 200 million consumer events every single month. So it's a massive network and incredibly valuable behavioral data.
A lot of lenders could relate to, especially as it comes to the prioritization, the scoring, how they distribute. All of this stuff is so impactful. When you are talking to lenders today and you are meeting with them, you identify some of the big missed opportunities as it relates to data and those types of things.
Can you talk about some of the solutions, like lead scoring, and what you are seeing that's out there now?
With regards to the data, there is the concept of lead scoring, customer scoring, or prospect scoring where traditionally it's a lot based on a lot of static data elements. Does this consumer have a loan amount? Are they a fit for a certain loan program that I do really well with? Are they in a state that we tend to have a lot of coverage in and perform really well with? Is this from a campaign that performs really well? All these are elements that are in the score, but when you start thinking about more of a real time lead scoring that's been something that, yes, I see a few out there doing it, but not nearly as many as I'd like to see.
And I think it's starting to move in that direction. So when we talk about real time lead scoring, there is some things such as, are they currently engaging with emails? That score should be popping up when they're in engaging with those emails. Are they actively bouncing around using the Jornaya data to know, yes, this consumer might've been a lead six months ago, and now they're actively popping around? It's a good time to put them back in the queue for a dial or an increased number of marketing messages, email messages being sent. You and I have talked about when the lead event happens, when you received the lead, if that's it one in the afternoon. One in the afternoon is probably a good time to get ahold of them on days going on, because we're a creature of habit, right?
I remember I used to close my office door, eat my lunch in my office and take care of some personal items during that time period. And it tended to be the same time every day. And that's when I'm more likely to pick up the phone or email back. So that's the right time to try and deliver those engagements. And so that's something that I'd like to see quite a bit more. I feel like there's a lot of missed opportunities right now because especially in that age lead population. Well, taking a step back, what we tend to see is when an inquiry comes in the contact engagement, contact strategy, emails.
They happen fast and furiously for about a two, three, maybe even a four-week period. And then they die down substantially. The consumer's phone has stopped ringing. They're not getting bombarded with as many messages anymore. And if they're still in market to get a mortgage and you know by leveraging these behavioral data points and know when the best time is to contact them. You're setting yourself up for success because you're pretty much the only one out there that's reaching out to him, I kind of equate it to they're on an Island right now. They're ready to do a mortgage. It just depends on which boat the next one that comes by to pick them up. And it's that long tail stuff that tends to be the highly converting population, if you know who's in that population.
We can frequently look at lenders and how all of this fit into their business and how we would re-prioritize leads. If they've opened an email in the last seven days. That's a data point maybe as part of the score, if they opened an email in the last three days that's it, maybe they'll hire and then today. All of these things can be kind of bucketed together in some strategic way that that will make the lead conversions go up at the end of the day.
Will you give a few highlights of what was discussed in your webinar you did last week, about the mortgage customer journey, and how the lead management part plays a role in the journey for the customer?
You can find the webinar on jornaya.com or feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and get it to you.
We did a bunch of analysis. We kind of challenged our data science team to look at the consumer journey from different angles. We sliced it and diced it in a few different ways. First and foremost, consumers on average shop for a loan 171 days before they actually end up closing on a loan. But if you look at the time in which they submit an inquiry or they have their credit polled in speaking with that first lender, that happens about 71 days before the funding event. So you have this hundred day period where a consumer's end market shopping around online, Ellie Mae came out with some data saying of people who got a loan in the last year, 92% of them researched online prior to speaking with a lender for comparison five years ago.
It's been a tremendous amount of growth in terms of the research, they're doing online prior to speaking with a lender. And so that gives this whole hundred-day point of thought period before they engage with the first lender, for someone who knows that information to be very influential on how that consumer shops, and where they ultimately get that loan. So that was great to see kind of commercial great to see kind of mapped out that entire consumer journey. We found that male versus female, they actually shop pretty similarly for mortgages. When you slice down by age grouping, we found a population that is way more active shopping prior to engaging with the lender.
Then when you look at everyone and where I think the real nuggets of information are when someone submits a request for information, that doesn't mean they're done and they're ready to make a decision. There's a substantial amount of shopping that continues to occur 30, 60, 90 days later. And that's interesting because again, that's a population that a lot of people give up on or they're no longer interested. They haven't been answering their phone and they didn't answer the phone in the first two to four weeks, so bury them. There's a lot in that population that continue to shop around so that was really interesting to see all of that.
It's basically a lot of people have a nurture campaign. Although it's important to try and stay in front of the consumer that way, simply nurturing, set it and forget it mentality, isn't it the most beneficial. You want to get smarter about that population because there are a lot of meat on the bones there.
It was the first time in history that marketers are going to spend more money on behavioral data.
That came from the Winterberry Group, the state of data 2018. The end of 2018, they published that information and they said, it's the first time that marketers are going to spend more on behavioral data than terrestrial data, which basically is used for direct mail. I mean, like name, phone number, that type of data. So, that's in the broad marketing ecosystem, which it was great to see, it's validating to see but it's showing you how important it's becoming to get much better at your marketing efforts.
If anybody out there will be at the Connect to Convert Conference in Boston, you can see Mike on stage there.
Mike, will would explain a little bit about Connect to Convert: Recapturing?
Connect to Convert is focused a lot on recapturing purchased business. So it's really interesting that, recapture rates are adequate 15 year low of recapturing past customers that you've worked with before. It's at as last reported by Black Knight earlier this year at 17%, where about eight or nine years ago, it used to be 50%. So it's been a huge drop off. When you actually break down that 17% between refinance and purchase. You'll find it's about 30, 30 plus percent recapture rate on refinance and only about two or 3% on purchase business.
Although we're in a great refinance environment right now, there's still a lot of people who know they have to button up everything on their purchase side for when rates really do tick up and the purchase businesses, the overwhelming majority of transactions. So we're going to have that discussion Grant Moon from Home Captain along with Mike Pronto who's at Kano. And so we're going to have a great discussion about how to hope recapture home purchase business.
To get in touch with Mike Eschelman:
You could shoot me an email M.Eschelman@jornaya.com or easiest way I've always found is connect on LinkedIn and shoot me a message through there and happy to interact and jump on a call and see if myself or Jornaya can help you in any way. I geek out just talking about the industry and stuff, so always happy to have those conversations.