I’ve been quiet on the blogging and social media front recently as I have been busy with purchasing a condo, getting financing in the post-financial crisis world, and then packing, moving, settling in — all during a killer rash of hot weather. This was my first home purchase, and my most significant experience dealing with professional service professionals — the real estate lawyer, the mortgage professional and the real estate agent — and, it wasn’t good. All shall remain nameless. And in the interest of saving you from a long, dull tail of woe, let me just summarize it briefly.
The whole experience was a real-life reminder of how real-world professionals seem to lose sight of the fact that this is my biggest transaction in life so far. This is very important to me. I’ve never done it before, and your job is to get it done seamlessly, with my comfort level intact, and with the impression that this is important to you as well.
In the modern world of the mortgage approval process, I dealt with people by e-mail, fax and telephone — never a real person in real life. Processes were cumbersome, repetitive, and misinterpreted. Documents had errors were incomplete, and deadlines were missed, more than once. Even my lawyer didn’t want to see me until the closing. And everyone talked in industry jargon and legalese. No relationships were made (with the exception of the real estate agent, who was a real person who responded when called upon). It was merely a transaction in which I was the grist for the mill.
No one ever offered the: “here’s what’s going to happen, this is what you can expect, here’s a document to help you understand the process.” Not even a “check this page on our web site for more information.” The tagline on the bank’s emails was a clever play on words about how important the customer is. Ha!
Professionals beware. It’s old hat to you… but it’s often the most important thing in your customer’s life. Treat it that way and you will be remembered. I realize that a personal meeting at the start of the process (with both the mortgage broker and the real estate lawyer) to describe what will happen is likely time consuming, but it would have changed the experience from a faceless gauntlet of hoops to jump through and mysteries to unravel, into a personal/professional relationship with a much greater chance for satisfaction and referral.
Living and working in the realm of professional services marketing, there is much lip service to all the proper behaviors. But how do we make sure that we don’t just talk the talk, but actually walk the walk? A good reminder for me. How about you?