In an effort to retain customers and attract new ones, Charter One Mortgage Corp. has installed Portfolio Protect, a loan acquisition-retention and customer relationship product from Domania, a Boston-based software firm.
Charter One has private-labeled Portfolio Protect as Home Price Check, a free tool that checks prices and other information about recently-sold homes in a particular neighborhood or Zip code. About 2,000 customers have signed up for Home Price Check since it was introduced in June.
Hosted by Domania on an outsourced basis, Home Price Check offers a basic level of information available for those who don't register with the service, such as recent selling prices and sizes of several homes in the neighborhood. For those who register, the tool offers additional searches, including information about a particular address or about an entire street.
Through registrations, Home Price Check tracks customers and prospects, automatically responding with e-mails tailored to their specific needs or desires.
The key to the Home Price Check concept is that a request for home price information is an indicator of future behavior. "It helps us to identify the purchase customers," said Alton Buie, senior vice president of marketing at Richmond, Va.-based Charter One Mortgage. "Somebody who's checking the prices of homes may be thinking of making a move, and/or getting a cash-out refinance."
After customers log onto Home Price Check, Domania's proprietary profiling engine analyzes their behavior. Based on information provided by registered users, the kind of searches they perform, and the frequency with which they use the service, Domania predicts which customers are most likely to perform a mortgage-related transaction in the near future. It also generates a customized e-mail marketing campaign for each customer.
"It's a complete service that enables Charter One to interact with their customers on a regular basis," said Bernie Dietz, vice president of business development at Domania. "This home price information is the carrot that attracts customers and allows us to learn more about them."
Home Price Check is useful for identifying both potential purchase customers and potential cash-out refinance customers, who may be checking out the value of their home or comparable homes.
Each month, Domania sends Charter One a list of those who registered for Home Price Check, along with contact information and their answers to the registration questions. The bank can then use this information for marketing campaigns above and beyond the automatic e-mail campaign that's triggered at registration.
"It's the only product of its kind that I know about, and we looked pretty carefully," said Buie.
Domania has been offering the technology behind Home Price Check since 1989, first via the telephone and later the Web, through providers such as AOL. The latest version, introduced at the beginning of the year, not only provides home price information but also tracks responses for marketing purposes.
"It's a pretty unique way of presenting this information," said Dietz. "What we've realized is that providing home price information is the perfect vehicle for communicating with customers and building a relationship with them."