The worst thing a broker can do at the moment is go into hiding, says the CEO of Smartmove Professional Mortgage Advisors Darren Little.
Brokers have been presented with an amazing opportunity to solidify their relationships with clients during the COVID-19 pandemic, he says, explaining that guiding clients through this time could prove cornerstone for a long-lasting and trusted relationship.
MPA spoke with Little about the role technology can play in delivering exceptional customer service and how Smartmove won Best Customer Service for the third time in four years at last year’s AMAs.
Developing long term relationships
With the market share of brokers increasing more and more, brokers are doing an excellent job in completing transactions, says Little.
While the majority of brokers do have a relationship focus, he says many don’t have a structured approach to maintaining this over the long term.
This is where Smartmove differs. The Neutral Bay brokerage reaches out to its customers in a regular and structured way – not just through automated emails, but through striking and maintaining an authentic connection on an ongoing basis.
“It’s really about having that lifelong relationship with our customer. It’s not about just looking after the customer at the time of the home loan, but it’s also just that ongoing need and being proactive with our clients,” he says.
For him, being there for the customer in a genuine and caring way has become even more important over the past couple of months; especially for those clients who are doing it tough because of COVID-19.
The opportunity to deliver exceptional customer service
While the pandemic has presented challenges for countless individuals and businesses, mortgage brokers are in a prime position to establish trusting relationships with their clients – which is why Little says they shouldn’t go into hiding.
“It’s an amazing opportunity that we’ve got at the moment and I think a lot of the brokers I’m hearing from are really on the front foot,” he says.
“This is where we’ve got to get really proactive. I really think that the work that you do today will create that cornerstone for your relationship with that client for many years to come.”
The role tech should play
While technology can play a big part in streamlining systems and processes, Little says its use should always be focused on improving customer experience.
“How are we going to help make that transaction frictionless for the customer? That’s always a question we ask in the business,” he says.
“It’s great to have this technology, but is it actually going to be easy to use for the customer and make it easier for the business? That’s really a key thing.”
Some of the technology adopted since the start of the lockdown has been great for customers, but some of it has been tricky for them to use, he adds.
“I think we’ve got to have a balance there from a customer or user point of view.”
The technology that Smartmove uses helps both broker and customer streamline the application process in a convenient and user-friendly way.
Clients can upload their information electronically and brokers have access to a portal for ordering valuations and pricing enquiries. While this saves time, Little says understanding the nuances of what each lender requires is crucial, particularly in the case of signing electronic documents.
Borrowers are not the only customers to consider
Little says winning Best Customer service in 2016, and then back-to-back in 2018 and 2019 at the AMAs is testament to the customer-centric focus of the entire team – a focus that extends beyond their client base of consumers.
“When we talk about best customer service as a business, we don’t just think of the end customer, we also think about our business customers as well,” he says.
He explains that Smartmove has always ensured that borrower and lender alike get amazing outcomes through each application submitted.
“It was great to be recognised again; that our customer service approach has been successful – and I do think our approach to customer service is going to hold us in good light in these times,” he says.
“It goes back to customers looking for those trusted relationships and that’s absolutely what we strive for with our clients.”