Great brokers should treat their trail commission as a kind of ‘management fee’, and invest trail back into looking after existing clients, says top broker and 1st Street Home Loans director Jeremy Fisher.
1st Street was awarded the coveted Best Customer Service from an Individual Office at the annual Australian Mortgage Awards, and says concentrating on giving the best service to his current client book has been key to his success.
“I think the chase for new business can sometimes be a distraction or cloud the main focus of how you got to where you are today – which is because of your existing clients. They’re not going to be as profitable compared to going out and getting new loans… but it’s so important to invest time and resources into your existing clients to ensure their on-going experience is rewarding and simple and easy.”
Making a complicated loan process seem simple and seamless to the client is crucial to a positive customer experience, says Fisher, and feedback that reinforces this confirms that they are doing the right things by their clients.
Further reinforcement of this comes from the fact that almost all 1st Street’s new business comes via referrals from existing clients.
“The proof is in the pudding given that other brokers are sourcing all their business from paid leads or websites, SEOs and AdWords and paying referrers to give them business, whereas our existing clients are our biggest supporters.
“Our focus from the outset has not been on simple advertising and trying to will people in the door, it’s been purely based on existing customers, fostering relationships and being 100 per cent responsive to their needs so that our client retention is pretty much at 100 per cent of our database.”
This means responding to emails and phone calls on the same day, says Fisher, and if you find yourself too busy to respond in detail right away, send a brief message to let them know that they will have a response overnight.
Clients of 1st Street are also contacted at a minimum of 14 touch points per year, including personalised, client-specific newsletters at
1st Street also regularly uses questionnaires to get feedback from clients on their service, and takes this on board for future client communications.
Monthly meetings with 1st Street brokers also serve to generate ideas for constantly improving their customer service, says Fisher.
When recruiting new brokers, Fisher strives to ensure that they fit in with the company’s values, and that they will prioritise a client’s needs well after their loan has been settled.
Putting in place a structure for customer service has helped to ensure all 1st Street clients receive the same high level of support.
“When it was just me I didn’t need the systems in place but as the business has grown I had to realise that not having a solid kind of CRM and lodgement platform in place meant I wasn’t able to manage the business effectively from a larger perspective. I’m not able to step back and look at what’s going on to ensure we’re not missing any opportunities.”
A strong structure has also helped with time management, freeing up Fisher to spend more time with clients.
While he freely admits he still hasn’t got everything right, and works much longer hours than he would ideally like to, customer service is something he believes there is no excuse for skimping on.
“Service is a simple thing. It’s free and it takes just a couple of extra minutes out of your day to provide that little bit extra and it’s not that hard. I’m pretty busy; I’m doing a lot of loans and I’m looking after eight brokers, but I never want a client to feel like they’re waiting for me.”
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Jeremy Fisher’s 1st Street Home Loans took out the award for Best Customer Service from an Individual Office at the 2013 Australian Mortgage Awards. Fisher said his business’ customer service philosophy was simple, but effective. “I think we try to do everything we possibly can with the client’s interests at heart. It’s a simple approach: we treat the clients how we want to be treated. It’s simple, but it obviously works.”