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Customer Service is still number one

4 Jul 2019 11:42 AM -

Customer Service is still number one

We are sure you’re all sick to death of hearing about the election, EOFY tax tips or insights into the reserve bank movement.

As important as these things are, they are not what clients are deeming the most important. Regardless if a “client” is referring to a broker, accountant, consumer or the director of a small business the feedback is consistent. As much as we find ourselves constantly discussing the product features and rates, our clients want two things in particular and neither of them relate to a specific product.  
 
“What are the most important factors to you when partnering with a Broker, Financial Institution or Financial adviser?” It was a landslide! Of the responses, an enormous 80% of the results had a minimum of one of the items below in their top two:

Trust

Nobody is going to be able to get the right outcome for their clients every single time. However, there are a few things to ensure a trustworthy relationship with your client. Will you do what you said you were going to do? Will you do the right thing by your client always choosing what is in their best interest? Can your clients trust you? Do they know you will do the best you can and don’t need to get second opinions or second guess the information they’re told?

Communication


We hear all too often that clients are left in the dark, uncertain where the application is at, or when they will be contacted next. Clients want to be kept informed and have an understanding about time frames. If there is no update or if there is a delay, just a quick message to say you are still waiting means that they know it hasn’t been overlooked and can await a response accordingly. When there are other parties also waiting on a decision it allows your client to relay this information so that everyone is up to speed.

Frequency/consistency/accuracy of information passed over to clients forms a big part of the communication piece. However, also consider the way in which your communication is delivered. Another main frustration was the confusing terms and finance jargon. Be mindful not to use acronyms or assume what is common sense for us is also to your clients. Lastly but equally important is transparency. NCCP when dealing with consumers is  black and white. However, forgetting the legalities for a moment, from a customer service perspective you should be up front about what your clients can expect from a product, process and cost perspective.
 
An analogy I often like to use is when you see those specials for airfares, “$199 return to Hawaii!!” The special pops up and you decide to go for it. As you are completing each step of the application you notice your $199 is long gone once you add taxes, service fee, online fee, sales person commission and so on. You may still disgruntledly proceed but are left feeling like you’ve been duped. Don’t leave your clients with the same feeling. Give them all of the information and what this means to them.

Reliability

Your clients ability to rely on you is fundamental. You are their finance “go to”. It can be such a confusing time for the client. Especially if they have done a Google search and seen a million and one alternative financiers, products, policies etc. This is why clients seek out the services of finance professionals to look after and support them through these foreign waters. They rely on you to be their guide.

Before we start thinking product we need to think back to our basics. Moreover, we need to remember that our clients have chosen us for the service we bring, not the products we can access. The great thing about this is it’s an area you have complete control over. The service you provide as opposed to the product require no involvement from third parties to get it right.
 
Sometimes we spend so long fighting for the hard things we forget to keep doing the easy ones. Below is a list of items that will help you and your customer service:

Understand your limits.

If something is more complex than you are comfortable with or you don’t have the capacity to take on a new application, be up front and refer when you need to. Admit that you need support. It will be a lot less problematic to have a conversation admitting an area you may be unfamiliar with, than trying to fix things half way through the process.

Use the tools available to you.

We have access to a wide variety of CRMs and applications. Therefore, use the tools at your disposal to remind you what to do and when. Set reminders and tasks for everything, even if it’s something you would unlikely forget

Automate.

Anything that can continue like clock work regardless of whether you are at your desk or lying on a beach in Mexico is a win. If you want to send thank you’s or a note to your clients that have loans expiring or residuals falling due, look at setting up automatic processes. These memos can all be automated and once set up you can make a BIG impact for a SMALL effort.

Templates.

How many times do we find ourselves writing a variation of the same thing? We often tailor these to our client's particular circumstances but the core of it can remain unchanged. Templates will save you time and provide a level of consistency and ultimately professionalism. Again you have done less work, but as we all know the goal is to work smarter not harder.

Give yourself a buffer.

Always under promise and over deliver. Never say you can get loans settled quicker or rates set cheaper to please your clients. We all want to provide the best service and we can find ourselves wanting to adhere to these commitments. We know that clients can put pressure on us but when it comes to providing expectations, stand your ground. That way you can be a hero who exceeded expectations rather than a let down when the same amount of work went in.

Hard conversations.

With hard conversations go by this rule- Get in, do what’s needed and get out. If you are declining an application and you are dreading the call, get it off your desk as quickly as you can whilst still ensuring you are doing the right thing by your client and completing additional research. You can tell your clients your intentions during the conversation and come back to them with an alternative solution if possible.

Take good notes.

There are many reasons this is a good idea. Compliance is obviously a big one, but also for future reference to assist you with follow up calls to your clients. If the client lets you know what is going on in their life then write it down. Ask them about it the next time. This strengthens your value proposition significantly.

Ask for feedback.

Perspective is a powerful thing. By asking your clients to complete a survey, it can give you a boost and make for fantastic examples of testimonials but also showing areas for improvement. You may be surprised to find out clients you felt were quiet, in fact adored you. If you don’t ask, you don’t know and you may lose clients and not know why. Feedback good or bad is invaluable.

Follow up.

Don’t ever make your clients chase you for updates. When you don’t have any answers, tell them that and let them know what you are doing. Behind the scenes you may have spent 45 minutes on hold and then another 30 arguing with a lender, however, they may think you’ve done nothing. Update and  reset the goal posts letting them know what you are doing to expedite things. Call before your clients have had to wait, wonder and chase.

Don’t blur the lines of integrity.

Often there are conversations that are uncomfortable. Clients want to know “why you need all that” or “my accountant said it will take too long to put together a list of all my business assets and expenses.” Nobody wants to have clients displeased with them but at the end of the day, you are doing your due diligence. Not only is it protecting yourself but, you know you are doing the right thing to ensure you don’t put your clients in an uncomfortable position. Stand your ground. This form of customer service won’t feel great but the alternative is significantly worse.
We understand that you have a million different hats to wear as a broker, compliance, sales, bookkeeping, marketing, HR and so on. Work out where your time is best spent and seek support for areas you need. We are here to support you for all your asset and equipment finance needs!

Happy to help.

Just a few tips to allow you to help your clients be on the lookout for untrustworthy dealerships. If you would like more assistance in this space, please contact the NLG Leasing team on 1300 722 011 or email support@nlgleasing.com.au