It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the global economy on a massive scale. The property market is similarly being impacted, both from a lender’s and buyer’s perspective. Despite government initiatives and support, there’s no denying that things look very different from the start of the year.
During these challenging times, brokers have a clear duty to keep their clients informed and lines of communication open. With the right techniques in place, it’s possible to achieve open, honest communication with your clients, without simply adding to the noise. Here’s how.
Answer any and all questions
What are some of the biggest customer questions and concerns you anticipate in relation to the crisis? Get on the front foot and answer these as quickly as possible. If there’s a way to answer them before they’ve been asked, even better.
Don’t leave room for questions and concerns to flourish, because in a crisis, it’s easy for clients to assume the worst. Where there’s potential for concerns relating to your business and its ability to perform your services and even survive the crisis, anticipate those and address them before they’re even asked. Communicate quickly, often, and with a tone of reassurance and calm.
Don’t communicate for the sake of it
If the only thing you’re communicating is that your team is maintain appropriate social distancing and washing their hands a lot more, then it’s probably not worth speaking out. How many unwanted COVID-19 emails have been flooding your inbox as of late? Don’t become one of them.
Unless the information you’re sharing has a direct impact on your client, don’t share it at all. Adding to the noise with pointless communication puts you at risk of irritating or even angering customers or potential customers who might not even remember being put on your mailing list.
Avoid blanket emails to your entire email list that simply tell people that they’re still ‘open for business’ and ‘here for you during this difficult time’. Clients can see straight through these messages, and won’t appreciate them.
Communication is a two-way street
There’s nothing worse than a broker who talks at their clients, as opposed to talking with them. Make it easy for clients to contact you, and provide the resources to be able to have a two-way conversation about the shifts in the market.
Responsiveness, openness and honesty are key: remember, your clients aren’t lines on a spreadsheet or dollar signs in an account, they’re real people. We should be checking in and showing care, not necessarily because it’s going to result in direct business, but because it’s the right thing to do.
Adjust your messaging
Instead of firing blanket messages to everyone on your mailing list, it’s critical to put a specific plan in place for specific stakeholders. Different stakeholders need different messages.
It might sound obvious, but the information you’ll be communicating to lenders will be very different to that which you’ll communicate to borrowers. It’ll certainly be different from the messaging you’ll create for your staff, the media, and your competitors.
And it must absolutely be different to what you were communicating and marketing prior to COVID-19.
Add real value, not badly disguised sales tactics
Providing extra value is important, but not if it’s simply a badly disguised sales tactic wrapped up as a gift. Make sure your ‘added value’ isn’t simply clickbait or a chance to go in for the hard sell. Saying, ‘call me for tips’ or ‘call me to discuss how we could help you’ is not-so-subtle code for ‘I want your money and will bait you with what seems helpful only to switch into sales mode.’
How about offering additional services free of charge? Be generous with your offers, because that’s the kind of person people want to do business with, and it’ll be remembered when the crisis has finally passed.
In order to truly keep clients happy, let them know they can adjust their current arrangement with you. Remove as many barriers to entry as possible, including offering to pause or adjust any ongoing payments while clients refigure their finances. Mortgages are stressful enough, even without a crisis getting in the way.
Phoebe Netto is the founder of Pure Public Relations, a PR firm that focuses on outcomes, not output – it’s pure and simple.
For over ten years, Pure Public Relations has been bringing big business experience to SMEs and not-for-profits.
Phoebe Netto has a reputation for securing excellent coverage for topics that are not obviously newsworthy and an impressive track record for issues management.
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