Serving Our Customers
(One in an ongoing series of articles on effective customer service.)
All loan originators believe they provide quality customer service, but some are definitely better at it than others. Of course, the key is to make it an everyday focus of your business.
“You can do all kinds of marketing but if you don’t deliver, you won’t get repeat business,” said Sam Rosenblatt, Academy Mortgage Corp., Glen Burnie, Md.
“Effective client service begins with a mindset,” added Skip McDonough, The Mortgage Firm, Inc., Jupiter, Fla. “We have clients, not borrowers or customers. Our goal is to build lifetime relationships, not just transactional income. During the loan transaction, we have the golden opportunity to demonstrate the service we offer, so we better not drop the ball.”
Mike Dunsky, Guaranteed Rate, Franklin, Mass., has a simple but effective approach to customer service. “My focal point is providing clear and effective communications and defined expectations (of the loan process) to borrowers,” he said.
Dunsky noted that by carefully explaining the loan process and the paperwork involved, his customers avoid any confusion and potential disappointment later on. “We have a 95 percent customer satisfaction rate and that is partially attributable to our upfront communication.”
Bill Haines, Jr. starts his service even before talking with the customer. “At the initial referral I send an e-mail that includes a welcome letter that gives an overview of my company, a checklist of the initial documentation that we will need for their pre-approval and a list of ‘Mortgage Don’ts’—those things customers should not do after making application for a mortgage,” explained Haines, American Pacific Mortgage, Bellevue, Wash.
“My goal is to identify the stress points and make the process as easy as possible for our clients,” said McDonough. “That starts with our first conversation when we make sure that we have thoroughly prepared them, answered every question and done everything possible to reduce their anxiety level.”
Of course, it’s critical that customers are well informed. Dunsky provides regular status reports and other updates to borrowers and their real estate agents. “The customer never has to call our office to find out what’s happening with their loan. I think we do an exceptional job of keeping customers informed.”
Haines updates his clients with a phone call. “I call every client on Wednesday to update the status of their files,” he explained. “On Thursday I call both the listing and selling agents to update the status on the files. Also, if something important happens in between, such as when the appraisal comes in, I will notify everyone on that day.”
“We make sure to keep clients and Realtors informed as the loan progresses, which includes 10 touch points,” said McDonough. “Personal contact by phone or in person every week is a must. We have an automated system that notifies the client and Realtors of every step in the process by e-mail. We also have a free phone app in iTunes that keeps them up-to-date. The system also has contact info for Realtors, LO, processor and title company, and there’s even a loan summary.”
Customers and Realtors definitely want to reach their loan originators when necessary. Rosenblatt noted that customers especially appreciate his accessibility. “I respond quickly to calls and e-mails,” he said. “I’ve had Realtors and others say that a key reason they like working with me is that I’m available.”
Linda Davidson, Service First Mortgage, Garland, Texas, knows that it’s important to promote your availability. Agents welcome her offer of Six Ways to Reach Us, which includes Facebook, office and cell phone, e-mail, Website, and a special phone app. “We include the message that agents can always reach us one way or another on all of our major contacts. We don’t want them to wonder if we’re going to be available.”
- John Murray has developed an efficient way stay in contact with clients. “Because I do a majority of my business over the phone, I have adopted the use of Plantronics Blue Tooth headsets for every phone that I own, and which I recommend that other originators get for their phones,” explained Murray, Mortgage Financial Inc., Danvers, Mass. “I have the desk top headset version for my office, as well as the mobile phone, and the Voyager Pro version for when I am away from the office and even skiing. I have a Motorola Blue Tooth headset built into my ski helmet so that I can take calls if necessary and my clients never have to know I am out on the slopes or away from my desk.”
By David Robinson
(Future customer service articles will highlight loan closings, creative customer service strategies and related topics.)
David Robinson is Associate Editor of Broker Banker.