"In my experience, brokers don't tend to stay in touch with former customers"

And if you’re not doing that, then someone else will, writes Simone Poulter

"In my experience, brokers don't tend to stay in touch with former customers"

Over the past ten years I’ve purchased three properties through three different brokers. But once the loan settled, I never heard from any of them again. I’ve only ever received promotional material from the banks.

I find it interesting to see who takes ‘ownership’ of the relationship with the customer— the bank or the broker? It depends who you speak to, and it depends who sees a benefit from maintaining that relationship. In theory, it should be both.

I’m new to the finance broking industry— my background is in business development. I’m co-founder of a service that helps finance brokers and advisers measure the strength of their client relationships. I believe it’s the strength of these relationships that have a huge impact on your future business.

In my experience, brokers don’t tend to stay in touch with former customers. Instead they seem to be more focused on generating new leads. There’s no focus on the past because it’s all about the future. However I argue that if you’re not staying in contact with your former customers, you’re missing out on a fundamental source of referrals. You also risk having your customers poached by someone else.

In light of the royal commission revelations, it’s understandable that customers distrust banking institutions, particularly when they continue to post extraordinary profits but don’t deliver a quality customer experience – customers who are the source of those profits.

Customers DO care about relationships with trusted advisers, such as doctors, teachers, accountants, real estate agents and yes – brokers. Now I understand that each of those relationships is different but let’s look at the two who are the most similar: real estate agents and brokers.

In the course of my ten years of property ownership, I’ve actually met more agents than brokers. But the major difference is that those agents understand the value of staying top of mind.

In the last year:

  • I’ve received multiple letters from an agent stating he has buyers for my property
  • Another agent sends me Christmas cards and last week a change of company notice
  • A handful of other agents regularly update me about their recent sales results
  • At least three other agents have recently offered me a free home valuation

The point is that none of these activities take a lot of time or effort. However, they all achieved the primary outcome: to stay top of mind with the customer. If you’re top of mind, you’ll get the call when the customer needs you. That’s mainly what sales is: being in the right place at the right time.

The big difference is that the services of an agent are limited: property sales and leasing. But as a broker you have a multitude of services you can offer clients right now. Refinancing, car financing, investment loans, insurance, personal loans – if it applies to my circumstances and is of benefit to me, I’d consider it. But the only way to find this out is to stay in touch.

I’d love it if one of my brokers sent me a letter once a year inviting me out for a coffee or called me up to talk about my loan status, and to see if there’s a better deal. I’d love them to tell me what’s happening in the market, what new lenders or loan structures are available, how I can access a better deal.

If I had a strong relationship with them, I would be sharing what they told me in conversations with others. I would be telling everyone I knew to use them. Between my family, friends, neighbours and acquaintances, there are at least 150 people I could refer that broker to.

I asked around my social circle and discovered that I’m not the only one who hasn’t heard from my broker. Those who’d used a broker in the last four years for loans between $400,0000-$800,000 hadn’t heard from them again, and only two indicated that they would be returning clients.

I’m a big fan of using brokers because I trust you more than I trust the banks. I think you’ll have access to a broader range of options, and I trust that you’ll steer me in the right direction. Given I don’t have an ongoing relationship with a broker right now, I’ll probably just ask if someone knows someone when the time is right. And the three brokers who could have got my repeat business will miss out.

I’ll leave you with this thought: If you’re not truly servicing your customers, watch out, because someone else will.

Simone Poulter is co-founder of MyNextAdvice and has more than 17 years’ experience in brand communications, business development, traditional marketing and sales. She’s worked with large multi-nationals and a number of SMBs in the energy, investing, real estate and retail space. To discuss how she could help your business, email her: [email protected].

LATEST NEWS