There’s no question about the fact that Total Expert knows how to throw an epic party! Accelerate was amazing, from top to bottom. As an attendee, my only complaint is that it was too short.
It’s hard to pick a favorite moment from an event jam-packed with so many great ones. I heard several people say their favorite part was the songwriters’ performance featuring Sarah Buxton and The Warren Brothers. Others are still talking about the bash at FGL House.
And, of course, that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the ~actual~ content, including a sneak peek at what’s coming next from Total Expert, amazing breakout sessions, and inspiring keynotes.
In his keynote, Jay Baer challenged everyone in the room to change the fact that only one in five borrowers return to their loan officer (LO) or lender for their second loan. One in five! While countless factors go into the borrower experience, Jay shared that three factors within LO control disproportionately affect the customer experience.
Focus on These Three
You can’t fix every customer experience issue at once, but you can get better at the three that matter most. Below is a recap of Jay’s most important takeaways, plus feedback from members of the Total Expert customer community of how they’re already putting Jay’s recommendations into action.
Customers are 2.4 times more likely to keep doing business with a brand if they receive prompt or quick support with their problems, so businesses must keep up with their customers’ demands if they want them to stick around. One of the best ways to provide quick service is to be proactive instead of reactive. What questions can you anticipate and answer before they arise? By tackling common questions in advance, you’ll exceed your customers’ expectations and save yourself time — an ultimate win-win.
Jay told a story about his friend who runs a successful moving company in Texas. Even though the company sent moving guidelines to each customer ahead of their moving date, they were surprised to read many negative reviews from confused customers. He realized that when people prepare for a move, they’re overwhelmed and aren’t necessarily taking the time to sit down and read an information packet. So, the business now sends multiple copies of the information via multiple channels — text, email, and mail — to ensure customers aren’t confused about the important details.
Borrowers are typically reaching out to you during exciting and stressful life circumstances. Plus, they often don’t know what they don’t know about the lending process, making things feel even more stressful and confusing. Identify the interactions you can make more clear to alleviate your customers’ concerns and you’ll be much more likely to earn their business again the next time.
While almost all of us would say we’re kind to our customers, sometimes we’re so busy rushing from one task to another that we can unintentionally come off as cold. Or, perhaps we try to “jump straight to the point,” leading with authority at the expense of empathy. We can be so anxious to tell them what we know that we forget to show them that we care. Customers are seeking validation — to feel seen, heard, and appreciated.
Jay shared a story about a time when he and his wife were boarding a Delta flight and the gate agent almost brought the couple to tears. The agent scanned Jay’s ticket, acknowledged how many miles he’s flown with the airline, and thanked him for his continued business. Then, the agent scanned his wife’s ticket and saw how much less she travels in comparison. She turned to her and thanked her for the sacrifices she must have made for her husband’s career. At that moment, Jay and his wife felt seen and appreciated, and that small act of kindness made the couple infinitely more loyal to the airline. What small acts of kindness can you incorporate into your borrowers’ journeys?
Jay’s challenge to marketers at Accelerate was to empower their LOs to become 15% more quick, more clear, and more kind over the next 90 days. While fixing everything at once is overwhelming and impossible, an incremental improvement rate of 15% in three key areas is realistic for LOs — especially given the urgency of customer retention in today’s marketplace.
I was curious how Total Expert customers are coming along with Jay’s challenge, so I reached out to a few of my friends to see how they’re doing and what specific changes their teams are implementing to get more quick, clear, and kind. Here are a few of my favorite responses.
Horicon Bank’s Grace Bruins connected with the need for speed. She says, “When Jay mentioned increasing speed and being more quick within our organization, I immediately thought about how we can reduce barriers for our customers – and our employees. Are there processes that we put in place that could be simplified? Banking regulation makes what we do so complicated, but our customers aren’t asking for complication. They’re asking for simplified solutions. So from the way we talk about products to the way we design them to the way we open them – how can we reduce the friction and offer straightforward solutions?”
Amber West from Hawthorn Bank says, “We know that when it comes to important financial decisions, there’s no substitute for talking to a local expert…fast! That’s why we make it easy for people to quickly connect with a member of the Hawthorn team. In addition to webforms and email addresses, our website gives the direct phone numbers and hours for the teams our customers rely on most. We take pride in providing not only a quick response but also a friendly one.”
Brenda Knutson, marketing manager at Prevail Bank, shared this insight: “Our website has a great resource center with helpful videos and blog posts, however, it doesn’t close the uncertainty gap with a basic and concise FAQ page, which will be added. We will also focus on answering top questions where our customers spend their time — email, social media, and paid search ads — not just on our website. I fully embrace Jay’s belief that customer experience is marketing, and we need to do something that customers don’t expect because that makes it worthy of telling somebody the story. By educating and providing an amazing experience, we hope to create the loyalty that the Jay Baer philosophy describes.”
Prosperity Home Mortgage’s Jelarie Grillo knows that customer experience isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it exercise, especially when it comes to clarity in communication. She says, “We take the time to put together foundational journeys by putting ourselves in our customers’ shoes. Where do they struggle? Is their situation different than the person next to them? We look at each touchpoint and make sure we’re relaying information clearly. We review these journeys often and incorporate feedback from our customer and real estate partners. Each time we make an adjustment, the journey gets better. In our latest Executive Business Review, our journey emails had a 78% open rate.”
Melissa Wright, chief sales and marketing officer at American Pacific Mortgage says, “We’re committed to Creating Experiences That Matter, and kindness is a major component. Our loan advisors are trained to treat customers like family and always prioritize human connection, especially in the moments that matter. Some of the ways we emphasize kindness include educating and advising before they even have to ask. The mortgage process can be daunting, and we offer eBooks, videos, weekly tips, and blogs aimed to educate the consumers in a way that shows care and meets them where they are on their homeownership journey. The value of the loan advisor is their knowledge, yet more than this is a caring individual that delivers an amazing experience that matters.”
Kayla Powell, director of marketing operations at Movement Mortgage, says she will also remind her team to double down on kindness as a differentiator. She says, “Our mission is to love and value people. Our goal is to not only put families in homes but to shine light in areas of darkness worldwide by taking our profits and pouring them into underserved communities. I’ve been an employee at Movement Mortgage for over seven years, and I feel more connected to this community and our company’s values every year. This company is a family, and our arms are open to helping those in need.”
It’s a Big Deal… Really!
Customer experience is the most important corporate differentiator in today’s competitive landscape. According to Bain & Company, 80% of companies believe they deliver outstanding customer service, yet only 8% of their customers agree. If you can provide quick, clear, and kind customer interactions, you can close the experience gap to get more referrals and repeat business.
What changes have you made to be quicker, clearer, and kinder in your business? I can’t wait to hear about the impact when we all reconvene for Accelerate ‘23 in San Diego. If you’re still feeling the Nashville ~vibes~, maybe you can even write a song called “Quick, Clear & Kind” and perform it on stage when we’re all back together in June!
In the meantime, check out this post with insight from Total Expert Founder and CEO Joe Welu on what it takes to deliver the perfect customer journey.