Technology has completely transformed the global marketplace in the past two decades. It has created new expectations for the way companies operate and engage consumers, and it has given customers more options when it comes to providers. Lenders hoping to win the loyalty of their customers can learn valuable strategies from market researchers who study the customer experience and companies that are known for being customer centric. According to “the relationship experts,” the new recipe for success is equal parts digital and human, and all about putting customers’ needs first.
1. Use data to make a good first impression.
Knowledge is power and, thanks to technology, there is more data being collected and analyzed than ever before. Smart companies use consumer data to better understand their customers, anticipate their needs and tailor their approach to create the best first impression possible.
2. Engage customers where they are comfortable.
Whether pursuing a personal or business relationship, it’s important to know where to engage the type of individual you hope to attract. Most millennials are online and older generations are moving there, too, so it may come as a surprise that most bank customers still want access to a branch office.
According to a 2018 survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 65 percent of recent and prospective home buyers feel it’s important for banks to maintain a local branch. Twenty-five percent said they would not open an account with a bank that does not have a local presence. The reason is simple: People prefer the convenience of initiating the lending process online but want to end it with a professional who can assure them that their investment is safe and on track. Banks that offer a mix of modern and traditional engagement channels with seamless integration between them can reach more customers where they feel comfortable doing business.
3. Make their lives easier.
One of the biggest benefits of being in a relationship is knowing your partner has your back when things get hard. Most consumer preferences are more than arbitrary demands; they reflect the challenges of living in one of the most overworked societies in the world. Banks that offer digital solutions help weary consumers save time, simplify tasks and protect their assets, so they can find more balance. Understanding the needs behind customer preferences also gives lenders the opportunity to show empathy and recommend solutions that position them as trusted advisors.
4. Show care and respect.
According to Kantar Media, an international consulting firm that studies the customer experience, customers want to be “known, heard and valued.” That takes time and effort. It means getting to know your customers, honoring their preferences and delivering on promises. It also requires that providers show they care. For example, customers don’t just appreciate check-in calls, they expect them. According to PwC, 52 percent of home buyers who received a call after closing said they would be likely to use the same lender again for their next loan, compared to just 23 percent of those who didn’t get a call.
Like any relationship, individuals who feel taken for granted are more likely to walk away. Customers who are acknowledged and appreciated have more incentive to reuse and recommend a provider.
5. Add real value.
No one wants a partner who does the bare minimum to get by. Customers aren’t just looking for any bank to give them a loan, they prefer one that can satisfy as many of their financial needs as possible – and they’re willing to pay more for it (PwC). That creates new business opportunities for those willing to think outside the box and go the extra mile for their customers.
For example, instead of ending relationships with consumers who do not qualify for a loan, banks could offer tools and services designed to help them save money, pay off debt or improve their credit score. New homeowners may also appreciate budgeting tools, a reminder to file for a homestead exemption, or help planning a future remodel or refinance. Banks that look out for their customers and help them achieve their financial goals are more likely to be rewarded with their loyalty.
Relationships are tough. Making them last is even tougher. If we want a customer for life, we must be willing to demonstrate what makes us a worthy partner. Embracing modern tools and strategies helps us better understand consumers and their preferences, so we can evolve to meet more of their needs and delight them in unexpected ways.
These are the opinions of Eric Lapin and not necessarily reflective of Title First Agency.
Eric has 25 years of experience in the mortgage industry, which includes origination through servicing, technology, innovation, data and analytics. He is a member of the MISMO Community of Practice for Blockchain Education Committee and a frequent speaker at industry events.