CUSTOMER SERVICE has always been a cornerstone of the broking industry, but expectations have evolved. Today’s customer expects a high level of fast, flexible and personalised service. If you don’t meet their needs, they won’t hesitate to walk away.
“Speed of service has become vital,” explains John Mohnacheff, national sales manager at Liberty. “Society has become accustomed to fast turnaround times and quick responses. Customers don’t want to wait for an answer. That’s not to say that we have become impatient – it’s more that a higher standard has been set.”
Mohnacheff notes that there are many things brokers can do to provide speedy service and positive customer experiences.
Getting the basics right from the beginning provides a strong foundation to build from, but overlooking fundamental issues is going to lead to key problems with the structure of the business later. Take responding to enquiries, for example.
“Thank customers for taking the time to share their experience, and see it as an opportunity. This crucial element of running a business helps you to grow” John Mohnacheff, national sales manager, Liberty
“While it should be standard practice to reply to enquiries promptly, there are going to be times when this isn’t always possible,” says Mohnacheff. “Auto-responses and voicemail messages only take a few minutes to set and can help to manage customer expectations around when they’ll hear back from you.”
Additionally, most brokers will be aware that loan delays can be a major source of customer frustration. While there will be times when this is out of your hands, Mohnacheff stresses that it is still crucial to ensure that you are completing applications correctly and providing all of the necessary documentation – this will help lenders process your application more promptly and in turn lead to better outcomes for the client.
Mohnacheff recommends that one of the most valuable resources brokers looking to enhance their customer service have available to them is their customers. It’s a great place to start if you’re actively looking for ways to improve. One of the best things you can do as a business owner is to encourage open and honest dialogue with your customers.
“Speak to customers directly and listen to their concerns,” says Mohnacheff.
“You might also consider incorporating a follow-up service satisfaction survey into your standard practices.”
Mohnacheff cautions that the feedback you receive from customers may not always be 100% positive – but that’s actually a good thing because it serves as a basis for working on improvements to the business as a whole.
Providing an open forum for your clients can help make you aware of issues that you didn’t necessarily know existed, and potentially win back those who might be considering taking their business elsewhere.
“Sometimes there will be customers who haven’t been completely satisfied with your service, but they will not be willing to voice their concerns,” explains Mohnacheff.
“Why? Quite simply, it’s too much trouble. Instead, they might just choose to take their business elsewhere.”
Brokers rely on referrals and word of mouth. When you engage with customers who are willing to share negative feedback, it’s important to respond to them professionally and politely.
“Thank customers for taking the time to share their experience, and see it as an opportunity,” says Mohnacheff. “This crucial element of running a business helps you to grow.”
Mohnacheff also believes that technology has been a key enabler in helping improve customer service standards in the broking industry. Indeed, some might argue that it’s essential to running a modern, successful broker business. Processes can be sped up, enquiries can be answered more quickly, and leads can be reached far more easily than in previous generations.
However, it’s still the implementation that will be the make-or-break factor in its success. Reasonable judgment should always prevail – tech should be used as an aid to enhance your services, rather than a crutch, notes Mohnacheff. Connection to the outside world via human means is essential.
“While it’s easy to start relying on digital marketing alone to bring in leads, getting out there and remaining active in your local community is essential to broker success,” says Mohnacheff.
Ultimately, running your business efficiently should support your customer service efforts by allowing you more time and flexibility to focus on finding solutions tailored to their individual needs.
Mohnacheff also notes that good customer service isn’t necessarily about being personable and well-liked. This is important, of course, but it’s not always the best approach – good customer service is about getting the job done to the highest standard and providing a fussfree experience for the customer.
“Customers come to you for your expertise, and they expect you to be able to efficiently support them in achieving their goals,” says Mohnacheff. “They’re seeking a service, and they expect it to be performed at a high level.”