Where brokers have the upper hand on bank managers

Customer expectations are higher than ever, and bank managers are failing to rise to the challenge. Trust and personalised care are paramount, say experts, and this is where brokers can excel.

In a recent survey conducted by Forrester Research, 60 per cent of bank managers responded that they believed they were doing a better job than their competitors at meeting customer needs.

In contrast, only 45 per cent of consumers believed the same, and only 10 per cent felt their financial institution provided a truly excellent customer experience.

In addition, only 21 per cent of consumers said they had a lot or a great deal of confidence in their bank.

“Trustworthiness is a key driver of customer retention,” said researchers. “So banks that do not earn their customers’ trust are at risk of losing them.”

This is a reflection of broader consumer mistrust of the finance sector since the GFC, says author and public speak Omer Soker.

"Customers have witnessesd incessant financial scandals throughout 2012, including allegations of mortgage fraud at Deutsche Bank, money laundering at HSBC, Libor manipulation at Citi and Barclays, rogue traders at UBS, and of course, the infamous 'Muppet Manifesto' at Goldman Sachs.

“Is it any wonder they distrust whether the industry has learned any lessons? Not only has reputation suffered but so too has the perceived performance and perceived behaviours.”

THE UPPER HAND

David Newberry, CMO of Pitney Bower, says mortgage brokers are in a position to make the most of this situation by focusing on becoming the trusted adviser of their clients.

“The fact that a mortgage is such a big decision I think it’s even more important for a mortgage broker to: Number one, understand enough about the consumer to identify what is the right mortgage offer to recommend but, secondly, that it’s done in a way that makes that whole process as easy and as seamless a process or transaction as possible.”

This means personalised care and attention to detail, says Newberry, which means researching your client base to really understand their needs, and viewing each touch point as not just an interaction, but as part of the overall experience of the customer.

UPPING THE ANTI

The expectations of consumers have changed, says Newberry, and it’s no longer just enough to be the best of your competitors, you have to be the best – full stop.

“As consumers our expectations are set by everything we engage with. Consumers are no longer just comparing one financial institution with another, but against all organisations, and as other organisations raise the quality of the experience they offer and the level of customer service they provide finance companies need to rise to that expectation.”

Forrester’s research found that consumers don’t view financial institutions as keeping pace with these changes, and mortgage brokers need to up their game to gain trust and attract customers, says Newberry.

“The mortgage industry is very competitive and there are a number of choices out there. You only have one opportunity as a mortgage broker to meet the expectations of that consumer or they will go somewhere else.

“The advantage here is that if you’re able to make the right offer to a consumer in a way that meets their expectations you’ve got a fair change of closing that business. If you don’t, there’s a very high likelihood they’ll go somewhere else.”

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