Recently, more than 300 Total Expert customers, partners, and industry allies gathered in Nashville for Accelerate 2022 – three inspiring days of innovation, learning, and networking. Kicking off the events was Total Expert Founder and CEO Joe Welu, addressing current market conditions and the challenges and opportunities they bring for mortgage and banking professionals.
While volatility – in the form of rising interest rates, global conflict, and ongoing social unrest – can lead to uncertainty, Joe stressed that attendees should focus on what we know.
“Homeownership in America – no one is betting against that long term,” Joe said, adding that becoming a trusted financial partner is more important than ever during challenging times. “Customers are looking to your organization for stability, advice, and knowledge.”
“Your customer relationship is only as good as the quality of your communication and engagement,” Joe said. This, he added, is ultimately going to lead to how those people feel about doing business with an organization.
Calling them the ultimate trusted financial partner framework, Joe pointed to three things that lenders must do at all times to maintain a healthy customer relationship: Educate, engage, and advise.
- Educate – Lenders and brokers can no longer simply send out a piece of marketing collateral and expect a lead to roll in. Today, the industry needs to help people understand interest rates and their impact on purchasing property. Leading with education, Joe said, builds an incredible level of trust. And at a time when broad trust in financial services has never been lower, this can make a lender stand out from the pack.
- Engage – Engagement for engagement’s sake is just spam. The key to successful customer engagement is timing – the right piece of information, to the right prospect, at the right time, on the right channel. Lenders and brokers need to understand what is happening with the customer beyond the potential financial transaction. As an industry, Joe said, we need to be empathetic and understand the context of our engagements.
- Advise – This step is the key differentiator for successful mortgage professionals. Many of the products and services that lenders sell and deliver are commodities in many ways, so it’s paramount to set up your organization with a mindset of helping people make smart financial decisions. In the moment when it matters, technology can help you do this.
Working within this framework, Joe said the next important thing is to understand your customer’s journey – if you want to improve and see some quick wins, this is the place. And what does a “perfect” customer journey look like? While it should be driven by data and technology, it needs to focus on the human, rather than the transaction, first. “Leading with the human and where they are in their lifelong financial journey, you can build education for each individual,” Joe said.
Consumer behavior and expectations have changed dramatically over the past few years. Today, no one wants to “be marketed to.” So, lenders and brokers need to think about marketing and sales differently than they traditionally have.
“You have dashboards, analytics, and fancy technology that can tell you all about the business,” Joe said. “But to impact the customer journey, you need to get insight into how the advisor interacts and engages with the customer. Organizations that crush it are those that think about ‘how can I drive more value for my customers using data and insights?’.”
Perhaps most importantly, lenders and brokers need to understand that the customer profile at the center of their human-first approach is simply a snapshot in time. “A lot can change in six to nine months in terms of a person’s financial situation,” Joe said.