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WASHINGTON – Build it and they will come. Build it poorly and they won’t come back. That’s one message from consumers who participated in a Callahan & Associates Survey Consortium about their experience in using online loan applications. The online survey of 14,154 members of 15 credit unions found that those who successfully completed an online loan application were about twice as likely to do it again sometime. Those who tried but abandoned it, however, said they were even less likely to try it again in the future than did those who said they have never tried to get loans online in the first place. “Although some of these applications were likely to have been made eventually via other channels, it does represent a significant lost opportunity for credit unions looking to retain their online members and steer members to more efficient channels,” says Scott Patterson, Callahan’s vice president for e-commerce. Forty percent of the survey respondents said they had either completed or tried to complete an online loan application, and more than 20% of them said they did not complete it either because of unanswered questions or other problems. Auto loans made up 39% of the applications, followed by mortgage loans at 33%, personal loans at 24% and 12% for home equity loans. The reasons cited for abandoning the application were having questions (41%), uncertainties about loan options (23%), or unclear terms or wording (11%). Some members didn’t have the required information ready (22%). Credit unions can do more to help. “Providing your members with tools to answer their questions, such as more detailed online checklists and online chat capabilities, will go a long way towards helping you capture the member’s loan,” Patterson says. “Although willingness to use an online application is fairly high, many credit union Web sites are lacking the basic information that members need to successfully complete their online loan applications,” the Callahan vice president says. The survey was conducted in June through the 15 participating credit unions’ Web sites.

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