As an outsource provider of increasingly commoditized loss mitigation tools and asset preservation services, having the right customer service philosophy may be the only deciding factor to our clients versus the competition.
Every client interaction has a ripple effect making it imperative to maintain the integrity of the relationship between client and a particular outsourcer; ultimately it provides the impetus for a strong brand loyalty between a service provider and their clients.
A strong customer service plan is the product of a constantly evolving relationship. Every transaction should be considered an opportunity to gather information and shape the customer service relationship.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning,” stated Bill Gates.
Clients that are unhappy may voice their opinion once, or maybe even twice, but if the criticism is not taken as a lesson on how to best meet or exceed expectations there may not be a third opportunity. Outsource providers who realize that despite best efforts to capture all expectations in well-written statements of work, there is a necessary melding of company cultures that has to take place between the service provider and the client.
That is only possible through open lines of communication, especially at the inception of the business relationship. Key stakeholders have to be available for these interactions to avoid silos of information not properly disseminated, ultimately resulting in a loss of creative problem solving input from the team.
While the generation of new business is necessary, paramount to the ongoing success of any outsource provider is customer retention and referral business. This can be achieved, to a great degree, through maintaining lines of communication that access the correct parties with the ability to quickly and effectively address issues as they arise.
Team members that are friendly, patient and well informed are the best hedge against a bad customer experience. They understand fully the content of the concepts they deliver and they speak with clarity that conveys to clients a complete grasp of the situation. Most notably, if a promise or a commitment is made, it must be communicated and completed as quickly as possible.
This falls outside the domain of “waiting in the queue” for the next available service coordinator. Teams that have well-seasoned members who can operate with certainty and autonomy when dealing with extenuating circumstances are vital to changing a potentially toxic customer experience into a positive outcome.
Though difficult to swallow, taking responsibility for errors and things that could have been done differently, or better, is the first step to facilitating change.
If we view a disgruntled client as an opportunity to take away valuable lessons on the needs and expectations of not only that particular client, but on the needs and changing expectations of our industry, we as partners all become purveyors of a strong customer service philosophy and experience.
Diane Gozza is EVP, business development, Integrated Mortgage Solutions, Houston.