One award-winning broker has shared her thoughts on how to be a leading customer service professional and why she believes that “bank loyalty does not exist”.
Speaking to The Adviser, Sarah Farrugia of SAF Finance explained that when it comes to providing clients with excellent customer service, “integrity and transparency” are essential.
Ms Farrugia, who won Best Customer Service Individual for Victoria at the Better Business Awards earlier this year, elaborated that as a broker it is important to “educate your clients, don’t sell a product”.
“Clients looking for finance are looking for a solution. If they wanted a product, Google can help them with that. Start by asking your clients what they want,” she said. “Use an online or manual survey to find out if they are actually happy with your service and what they really want from you as a broker. The answers will surprise you.”
She added: “Knowledge is power and the more you know about lending and people, the better broker you will be. Do not just offer one or two lenders' products. As brokers we should know all our panel lender loans and take the time to offer this service without bias.
“Take the extra time to help your clients set up their accounts. Be kind to your BDMs and branch staff, who assist with following through on customer service to your clients.”
Ms Farrugia emphasised that “being curious and professional” is also critical to ensuring clients receive the best service.
“Listening to what your customers want and need to create a plan to achieve their goals is the key. Showing that I am genuinely interested in their circumstances means that I can build relationships with people early, so when they are ready for a broker, I am at front of mind,” she explained.
In highlighting the importance of good customer service, Ms Farrugia noted that the NCCP requirements and changes in the industry over the last 15 years have been positive for the third-party channel, as they have “cleaned up” brokers’ market space.
“Brokers are now highly trained mortgage professionals. People are more educated, so they know by seeing a broker they get a full finance comparison, as compared to going into a bank and having a selection of options that are limited to that bank,” she said.
“Bank employees are incentivised to make a sale, rather than taking an unbiased approach to suit the customer’s individual needs. It just doesn’t make sense today. Bank loyalty does not exist.
“The changes have been great, giving brokers more access to helping the customer. Things like ordering up-front valuations, printing loan documents, being able to re-price existing and new loans ourselves and opening customer accounts [have] been imperative to ensure a fast application to settlement and post-settlement service levels.”
Ms Farrugia told The Adviser that the next change she hopes to see in the industry is better compliance in the commercial sector, particularly in asset finance.
“I would also like better access to other products other than mortgages, such as personal loans, home and car insurance products and credit cards, with a full panel list of lenders,” she said.