Brokers should see digital technologies as a way to enhance their customer relationships, not replace them, writes Choice Aggregation Services CEO Stephen Moore
In an age that is increasingly digital, and in which more and more of our lives are spent online and in front of a screen, it’s sometimes easy to imagine a world where face-to-face communication barely exists.
According to EY Sweeney’s Digital Australia: State of the Nation 2015-16 report, 81% of Australians now have a smart phone and spend 10 hours on average engaging with digital devices every day.
For brokers, whose core value proposition is service, and for whom relationships are central to business success, it certainly is important to ask the question: What does the growing role of technology mean for the future of our industry?
Technology and the customer experience
I believe it’s important to view technology through the ‘customer experience’ lens, and to recognise that digital technology can actually support you to better serve your clients.
In my previous posts, I’ve been writing about the evolution of ‘customer service’ towards a more end-to-end ‘customer experience’. Service with a smile and returning clients’ calls on time is still important, but it’s no longer enough to win and retain customers in a competitive market.
Instead, brokers need to finesse every little detail of the customer experience, if they want to meet their growing expectations. And technology certainly has a role to play, when it comes to creating a seamless, efficient customer experience.
At the Choice Platinum Achievers Conference in 2015, we spent time at the Disney Institute of Customer Excellence. Disney is acknowledged globally as providing best practice customer experience training.
According to Disney, a fantastic customer experience encompasses both a rational and an emotional response. In our industry, for a customer to reach a decision to engage your services, providing them with facts and sharing your knowledge are important, but can be easy to replicate.
Creating a strong connection with potential customers on a personal level can be the differentiator and the basis for a sustained relationship. While it might be stating the obvious, sometimes it’s easy to forget about this, especially when we are busy.
Digital presence can provide an effective way to support brokers to meet the rationale requirements customers need and to create the fact-based connection with you or your brand, but digital systems will not satisfy customers’ emotional requirements. Enter the role of the broker.
Rationale + emotional = success
The future of successful broking is about marrying technology-enabled customer information, education and fact finding with high quality person to person interactions. Admittedly, for a proportion of borrowers, personal interaction is not important, and for these people online loan systems are an option. But for the vast majority of people, the best customer experience still includes an emotional connection.
Brokers can leverage technology to improve their customer experience in multiple ways. And in many ways, we already do, such as via sophisticated loan comparison software. But if we have our customer experience hats on, are there ways you can improve this experience you provide? For those more technology-focused customers, consider using a large screen to display a presentation or comparisons when pitching for business. You may also want to use an iPad, but remember, tools should only supplement and not replace the most important thing – you!
Implementing – and then using – a quality Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, can also help you create an improved customer experience, that is tailored and automated. With CRM technology you can provide a great customer experience but in a cost-effective, scalable way.
And don’t forget the importance of social media platforms and a quality website and digital interface. These technologies can provide a powerful way of improving customer interaction – plus significant referral benefits.
If you’re focusing on building out an improved customer experience, don’t shy away from technology – look for ways it can help you better engage with your clients.
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