Willamette Valley Bank
While Willamette is known as being a leader in banking for the tri-state area of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, their impact in the industry overall is nothing short of stellar. Earning the title of #1 Community Bank by American Banker Magazine year after year, Willamette focuses on strong financial performance, while playing an active role in the lives of those they serve. Developing a strong sense of community is at the heart of Willamette’s business philosophy, and the business it brings proves this in spades as they grow alongside their clients.
Coming from a time with an abundance of transactions, loan officers across the country grew used to a seemingly endless sea of refi opportunities, and very little prospecting needed. Interest rates reached lows of 2.6% in 2020 just before America left pandemic restrictions behind and exited into a world of inflation, resulting in an interest rate pivot in an attempt to stabilize. All of this accelerated, and with an immediate impact felt at the country’s core, our housing industry.
Changes in the market bring doubt and hesitation, the interest of each potential buyer drops, and businesses feel the tension as our post-pandemic world adapts. With every company working to earn the attention of consumers, banks like Willamette seek out innovation, helping them rise above while also further reinforcing their value as a community-based lender. It was at this time that Dan and his team discovered Homebot, a scalable tool that connects them with their past-clients, while also driving powerful engagement with prospects.
“During the pandemic, a lot of loan officers and borrowers became more recluse and less relational. Homebot nudged both parties, the borrower, the past customer, home shoppers, and the loan officers to engage with each other.”
Dan and his team are aware of email engagement rates being lower than 2% on average, as well as the typical consumer receiving over 100 emails per day, roughly 80% of which will go unopened, deleted, or marked as spam. However, having onboarded Homebot, gone are the days of archaic drip campaigns for Willamette’s loan officers, reminding clients that it’s a holiday or sharing a recipe to maintain their connection client database..
Enter the modern era, where generic content has evolved into customized and specific information based on almost every banking customer's greatest asset, their home. With over 40 loan officers actively using Homebot, each of their clients are seeing a monthly report showcasing everything from their home value, options for leveraging their equity, refinance opportunities, and dozens of other paths to build wealth on their journey as a homeowner.
“I think of Homebot as one more opportunity for us as a company and our originators to bring value and be in front of our customer base. They get a bank statement from us, they get a loan statement, but then they also get the Homebot Digest. So it's just one more touch that they get from us that's bringing something of value to them that they want to open, they want to click in and they want to go through it.”
Having a myriad of valuable touch points with clients helps build long-term relationships, a practice that has since become a staple in how Willamette Valley Bank connects with their community. Homeowners and buyers alike have found empowerment as Homebot provides strategies for building their wealth, all while positioning their loan officer as the expert, creating many moments of mutual success.
“It's gonna allow us to keep doing home loans for these customers and their friends and family over and over and over again, because we are in front of them every single month, like clockwork. Your brand is what you consistently do and don't do, and we consistently send them a home digest every single month.”
Rapidly approaching the first full year of partnership between Willamette and Homebot, Dan and his team have built the tool into their weekly workflows. Client engagement in Homebot is categorized and filtered to show loan officers where action should be taken, where action could be taken in the future, and how they can start a conversation today.
“Homebot does a great job of giving us that Monday email or Sunday night email to all the account holders of their top 15 active clients. One of the things that we've implemented is to really use that email to go through and call and just touch base. That activity can bring opportunities.”
Conversations with customers have more meaning now, there’s a purpose behind each call or email. From each interaction, clients feel more informed and in control of their home while Willamette originators become more deeply connected and featured as the definitive choice for each client, and each client’s friends, family, and colleagues. Dan and his team are creating a more educated and successful community, and with that, the same customers become active prospects for depository services and more.
"If you're in the banking world and you are looking at different platforms, that's one thing that Homebot brings. It really is something you can offer to even your bank side, your depository customers, or your commercial customers. It's got a lot of value across the spectrum, in all your different pillars of business within the bank.”
When the future market brings stability, the power of Homebot will continue to be an asset for Willamette, helping them lead the way as the #1 Community Bank. Forging and nurturing connections with clients is easier than ever, while also saving originators time and energy by aligning them with actionable insights into client interest and behavior. Above all else, in an economy filled with confusion and concern, Homebot enables Willamette loan officers to bring comfort and understanding to clients, making their decisions confident, and their futures secure.