Short weeks causing chaos? Tips on managing customer expectations

Director of Hunter Galloway, Nathan Vecchio, started broking in 2015 and using the techniques from Joshua's Top Broker Handbook, is writing big numbers, leading to Vow Financial naming him Broker Partner of the Year Rising Star in 2016.

How good are public holidays? Well, for the most part…

On second thought, probably more so if you aren’t a broker and have what feels like thousands of deals and deadlines you would normally get done in five days, that need to compress into four.

This time of the year always compacts the workload when we have lots of public holidays crammed into the one month (in Queensland we have four short weeks in a row), but how are you managing your customers during this time and making sure you are keeping on top of everything?

Managing expectations is the single most important part for any Top Broker to maintain a good relationship with their client. We’ve all seen what happens when it goes the wrong way and the consequences of missing a finance or settlement date. So in our industry, it is I think the single most important thing in building trust, generating more referrals, maintaining a calmer work day and a higher level of productivity, so here are my top five tips on managing customer expectations.

Be Straight Forward from the Start
It can be a difficult conversation to have with customers, but sometimes it isn’t possible to get the cheapest rate in the market and meet a 10-day settlement timeframe. It is imperative to outline timeframes from the very beginning, and that there are lots of factors at play when applying for a loan. Remind them that these include the specific bank; if they have any promotions or offers at the moment, the valuers, and even after the approval process; the timeframes to issue loan documents.

Remind them that these include the specific bank; if they have any promotions or offers at the moment, the valuers, and even after the approval process; the timeframes to issue loan documents.

Give Clear Timeframes
I always outline turnaround times and next steps in the interview appointment. I then follow up with an email outlining timeframes from the submission, making it very clear when they will next hear from me.

For example:
As discussed the loan will be structured as follows:
  • $440,000 purchase
  • P&I 25 year loan term, increased specified repayments $4,400 per month
  • Repayments to come from existing offset account 
Timeframes for application 
  • Application submitted –  Today 
  • Conditional approval – 5 to 6 business days
  • Formal approval (with valuation) – 1 to 2 business days
  • Loan documents – 3 to 4 business days 
  • Ready to settle – 3 to 4 business days
Under promise and always overdeliver
This old saying is something all Top Brokers live by. I make a commitment to all my clients that they have access to me and my team whenever they need, and also during the post-settlement process, should they run into problems.

Before I go into an appointment I have an understanding of the bank’s broad turnaround times (most of them are on the broker portals nowadays, or I message my BDM to check). If the BDM says it is three days to conditional approval, I will let the client know it will be 5 days. Why? Because in reality, these times can blow out, so it’s best to be a bit conservative. Then, best case, if they do get it approved in three days you will look like a legend to your client!

Be Transparent
If you underquoted on the timeframes, and the bank is delayed in processing the customer’s file, or if they are having a ‘system issue’ (which comes up from time to time) get straight onto the phone and let the customer know everything is under control.

Think about it from the customers perspective – there is nothing worse than being left in the dark and not knowing what is happening with your loan, or worse yet, assuming there are major issues.

On the other hand, if there are problems, I always try to find a solution before I call them, so when I speak to the customer, I can explain the issue and provide a solution to help get them through.

Constant Communication
We work in a service industry and need to remember this. For most customers, you may be working on the single biggest financial transaction of their life, and it’s easy to forget that not everyone knows the home loan process as well as we do. Keeping to the spirit of underpromising and overdelivering, while I outlined the time frames in point two, I always make sure I check in with my clients every two business days as well.

In addition to our 12 step customer touchpoint process outlined here, I make sure I either text or call the customer every two days – even if there is no update, it can put the customer at ease knowing you are looking out for them and keeping an eye on their application.

All the simple things
Although you might already be doing most of this, given the time of year and disruptions, it is worth checking that other team members within your business are doing the right thing. It might sound like a small gesture sending a text message update every two days, but I have found this builds trust with customers and trust leads to more satisfied clients – therefore more referrals back to your business.

PS: I’m going to be taking over here at Top Broker for a little bit while Joshua focuses on a few big and exciting projects we are looking forward to bring you in the next few weeks. A quick background, I started broking in 2015 and using the techniques Joshua has given in the Top Broker Handbook I have grown my business in a very short time to writing some big numbers, and was fortunate enough to be awarded Broker Partner of the Year Rising Star in 2016.