Monday, March 30, 2015

A Lesson in Customer Service

By Mark Kerzner, President TMG The Mortgage Group

How many times have you heard one of the following?

  1.  “It’s our policy.”
  2.  “I have to check the policy manual”
  3.  “Because I have to”
  4.  “I am just going on my break”
  5.  “Let me provide you with a website address where you can fill in your comments”

… and the list goes on and on and on. While these are just a sampling of my personal business pet peeves, my blood boils as I simply recall them and write them down.

Let me share a couple of challenges I had with the customer service practices of a car rental agency as a lesson on how not to treat customers.

Last winter I rented a car at the Calgary airport.  After completing the compulsory paperwork the rental agent handed me my keys.  To my surprise there were three identical keys on the key chain.  Over the past few years I have become a personal fan of the keyless car starter if for no other reason than to reduce the bulk of what I have to carry around. I was travelling on my own, so I said I would just take one of the keys, asked that they keep the other two. They refused. The reason: because I have to take them all.

I didn’t let it go quite that easily and tried to reason. I said, “If I happen to lose the keys, I would lose all of them if I had three with me on the single key chain. At least if you have the spare you could help me out.”  It didn’t work.  At that point I simply didn’t have the energy to continue and went on my way.

A few months later I had the exact same experience. Knowing where this was likely going to end I decided to circumvent the conversation by asking how I could get feedback to a decision maker so that they would have the opportunity – yes, I do believe it was an opportunity -- to hear feedback directly from a customer. The rental clerk said she could provide me with the contact information for the owner of the franchise and I could give my feedback directly to them. I was happy with this outcome until I got the “business card” of the franchise owner. (See below)

Despite my frustration at receiving a form email alias rather than contact for an accountable human being, I decided to follow through with the feedback form and went to the main home page of the company to provide it.  By the time I was ready to submit I had some additional feedback as well. The car that I was given was dirty inside and out. I wrote up a nice, long note, and went to submit it when the system bounced me out. Nothing I wrote was saved and I would have had to rewrite it all again.  Which I did not do.

By the way, I was not able to submit feedback to the survey URL provided from the rental agent. There was no room for feedback and I would have had to provide the digital Rental Record number to complete the survey.  In the end the car rental company never had the opportunity to hear my feedback and lost my future business.

I guess what I was hoping for was an opportunity to help empower the client service people so that they could remove the above excuses from their vocabularies. 

As mortgage brokers, we know our business is evolving and has become more competitive.  Our clients are asking us for more than they did just a few years ago. Many of our clients are better educated about finances and mortgages when they speak with us. They have already done research online or with their personal bankers.  This is actually a good thing for both the client and us. 

As problem solvers we ensure clients have the best product for their unique circumstances.  But it’s also about being there with answers and not just standard phrases such as “those are the lenders’ rules”. We owe it to our clients to explain why policies are what they are. This means we must be more diligent about knowing our lenders, their products, and the policies. We need to connect with underwriters and BDMs to makes sure of the varying conditions and be informed with recent changes.

It also means keeping in regular contact with clients to keep them informed of what’s happening in the industry and how those changes impacts them. And, if there is a complaint, then we need to listen to what they’re saying and find ways to continually improve our level of customer service.