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Delivering Customer Service, That’s Second to None!

March 2, 2023

By Julie Piepho, Principal, BlackFin Group

When I work with companies and ask them about core values, one of them is always - they will give great customer service. But, when I ask them to define great customer service, it then becomes a hard brainstorming session of what that truly looks like! Can it be quantified so both internal and external customers can see it and you as the leader can verbalize it and measure it?

I just returned from a trip to Thailand where I could say the customer service was superb! Every individual, when you walked by them, no matter their position in life, would put their hands in the prayer mode and do a tiny bow. Everyone. Even the gardener who was sweeping the leaves with a hand straw rake that seemed to be a thankless and impossible job, would do that to me every time I walked past him, six to seven times a day. It’s a show of courtesy. This was just one example of what I saw.

Today, in the United States, we are lucky if we see people hold doors for each other, no matter the sex, give a smile and engage with a hello at the checkout stand of a store or a grocery store, or even look up from their phones while walking down the sidewalk so you won’t bump into them. We have become engaged into ourselves, not others.

How do you give customer service that is second to none?

First, what fits into your firm’s vision, mission, and values? What is your culture for customer service? Is it that phone calls and emails are answered within the workday? I know of one CEO at a top 3 mortgage company that answers every email and phone call within the same business day, as their employees are also required to do that. That is their culture. Is it time to make some changes in your teams’ culture?

Second, have you focused on your customer base to see how they want to be treated? We hear all the time that the mortgage process to the customer abounds with lack of communication. They don’t know what is going on and are confused about the process. What customer contact points of communication can you put into the workflow process, either through automation or personal contact, to keep the customer informed about their mortgage loan. That is where the raving fan reviews will come in. We know from focus groups that a majority of consumers want the personal interaction.

Third, what is the engagement with internal employees? Now that COVID is over, we still have a mix of remote and office employees. How are you receiving feedback from them? Or are you? I just had lunch with a former team member, she told me how her “new” supervisor, from over a year ago, has still not had a face to face with her or even a face to face team meeting with her team. And, they all work within 100 miles of each other even while the employer is back to work, with no remote. She’s frustrated. We know from surveys that when employees leave, it’s not for money, but from dissatisfaction and lack of communication about their jobs. Doing two-downs with your supervisors’ employees is eye-opening and you gain valuable information. One small change in culture can help reduce turnover while obtaining critical market insights.

Take your senior management team through a brainstorming session and come up with tangible, measurable, customer service goals that no one else is doing – for both internal and external customers. It truly won’t be hard, as we know the perception of what is ‘acceptable customer service’ has dropped. What will make your company have great customer service that is second to none?

Julie Piepho, CMB, is a Principal Consultant with BlackFin Group in the Mortgage Strategy Practice. Julie is nationally recognized as a Mortgage Strategy Consulting expert with over four decades experience leading and coaching sales and operations teams while in executive roles at Cornerstone Mortgage, Norwest Mortgage and Wells Fargo Mortgage. She holds the prestigious Master Certified Mortgage Banker designation from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

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