Beating information overload

Toni Smith is sales and operations director at First Complete


Email, newletters, intranets, extranets, websites, twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook...  There is a real balance between getting enough information to do your job properly and reaching information overload. 

These days we tend to be swamped with information from myriad different sources and trying to work out what is vital for us to know and what is a nice to have or frankly unnecessary can be a challenge in itself – and there must be many of us who have pressed the delete key in an effort to reduce the hundreds of emails in our inbox only to discover too late that one of those deleted items contained something vital.

This is likely to become yet more challenging under the MMR as brokers will be expected to understand the criteria of every single lender, a task which must surely be impossible. 

So I’ve been mulling over two issues: how do we get enough information to do our jobs properly and stay compliant, without spending all of every day reading updates? 

And how do we get the same quality of information to our clients so that they read it rather than just pressing ‘delete’?

The best way to filter the communication noise is to pick one or two sources that you know that you can rely on, preferably ones that are easy it is to read and understand. 

Your network, if you are a part of one, should be a key place to get a summary of all the information you need segmented into areas that are easy both to find and understand and the trade press may be another.  Once you have a trusted source that you know will cover everything you need then if should be ok to delete most of your other updates after a cursory glance.

It’s not just us industry who are facing information overload however, everyone seems to be in the same situation, so how the broker communicates with their clients is just as vital and needs to be just as clear as how the lender, network or club communicates with their broker.

Key in this will be to use our own experience of being overwhelmed by information and only taking on board that which is the easiest to read and which seems to be the most relevant to us. 

Key tips are to send tailored communication; to communicate only what is relevant and interesting to the reader rather than what we want to say (which of us is not guilty of that one?). 

To also use their language not ours – after all, will your clients really understand those acronyms? 

Are we being too technical with those who don’t know anything about mortgages other than the fact that they have one or, conversely, are we being too simplistic with people who know the market reasonably well, such as buy-to-let portfolio holders or people who have had multiple mortgages of different types?

It’s too easy to think that our well crafted emails and newsletters are read and understood by everyone we send them to. But we all know that we probably delete more than we read so before you next put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, just reflect on what the client will find most interesting and what will make them read just a moment longer before pressing the ‘delete’ key.