How to Keep New Customers Happy
VOLUME 97 | NUMBER 11 | NOVEMBER 2018
It is inevitable that some files are simply going to go down in flames instead of closing on time with no issues. There is no way to make sure that all files close without a hitch, but there is a way to radically minimize the number of problem files that create upset customers.
Sales in this business can be very, very difficult. In fact, it can be downright ridiculously hard!
So, when this fact is present, which it is, we tend to see our new customer as our prize. And, why not? That’s what they are!
The first thing we need to do is to accept where most customer complaints come from. And, in fact, where they don’t.
Our studies show that over 95 percent of all customer complaints come from two categories:
1: Co-op agents
2: New customers on their first few transactions
This means that only 1 out of 20 customer complaints comefrom well-established directing clients.
Let’s look at why this is by taking a walk through a typical sales rep’s daily process.
First, they identify a Realtor that they really want business from. That particular agent happens to not be a co-op agent, so they proceed to pursue them in a traditional “make them like me” manner. And, sometimes they actually do … like them, that is.
Think about the principle of expectations. In other words, everyone has them. And, to get anyone to make a change, those expectations must exceed what they already have or think they have.
If you end up getting someone to try your company and to send a transaction, that means only one thing: They may be thinking, “I’d better try this. It sounds like escrow heaven.” Otherwise, they would never leave their familiar closers and try someone new.
Now that you have your new open order, you tell your escrow officer this amazing and grand news. And, for some reason, they are not as excited about this new customer as you are. Why? To you, the new customer is a victory, and to the escrow officer/closer, they are more work.
Let’s make the situation worse for just a moment. All escrow officers/closers have clients who have done business with them for a long time and are the bread and butter of their desk These are the clients with which they have built strong relationships.
So, because of how they subconsciously see your new customer and how they consciously see their existing good customers, your new order now becomes unintentionally de-prioritized. That’s right, the gap between what they expect and what they receive just became larger—much larger!
Inevitably, the new customer is going to feel it. Why wouldn’t they as they are not experiencing the “escrow heaven” that they were promised. In fact, now it is the opposite.
The customer now picks up the phone and calls the escrow officer to voice their opinion, right? Wrong! They call you because you are one who made the promises, and likely the only one they have had any real conversations with.
Now, in a panic, you begin to scramble trying to find ways to keep the customer from walking. So, you tell them something ridiculous like, “It won’t happen again.” Every salesperson is guilty of this one. But, think about it, how can you guarantee that?
The result of this type of comment is to make the situation worse. The very over-promising that created the situation in the first place is now at work again promising something that you have no way in the world of assuring anyone.
The only person who can communicate their way to a healthy conclusion is the escrow officer/closer. But, since they don’t feel as though they did anything wrong (which they might not have) they simply don’t want to make that call. Thus, you now feel that if you do not over promise again, the customer will walk. So, you take that path.
As I stated above, 95 percent of all complaints come from those who do not have a relationship with the escrow officer or closer. Taking that into consideration, the solution is simple. We must connect the new customers relationally with the escrow officer faster than we typically do.
So, the following are the recommended steps to take to stand the best chance of making things work the way they should when onboarding new customers.
- Wheneveryoureceiveyourfirstorderfromanew customer, make sure you do an effective review of their preferences. This becomes the most important information that you can acquire. In fact, by answering questions, the customer subconsciously re-enters the realm of more reasonable expectations. It isn’t a cure-all, but a very strong and necessary start.
- Let the new customer know why you are asking the questions. It is because you want to make sure that their experience with the company and escrow officer/closer is stellar.
- Let the customer know that you are going to go over their file preferences with the escrow officer / closer.
- After you go over the preferences with the escrow officer / closer, have them call the new customer and say something like, “This is _________. I am your escrow officer/closer
on your file and I wanted to call you to thank you for the opportunity to work together with you on this file. I also wanted to let you know that (rep name) and I have gone over your preferences together and before I put them into the escrow file, I wanted to call to see if there is anything additional that you thought of after they left that you would likemetoaddtothelist.”
- Do everything you can to make sure this call takes place, because this is where the magic happens. What is the magic? It is the escrow officer/closer and the new customer having a conversation at the beginning of the transaction. Remember, 95 percent of complaints come from situations where they have not connected like this or even had a single conversation besides “I need things” conversations, which usually happen via email. So, in other words, they have never actually spoken. (This is why they call the repwhen they have a complaint. The rep is the one who has had the previous conversations with them, including the ones where escrow heaven was promised).
When you’re a sales rep in this industry, you’re a lot like a pilot. Pilots have written checklists for everything. They leave nothing to memory, natural tendencies or luck. It doesn’t matter how many hours they have or how many successful take-offs and landings (that number should match) have—a checklist is paramount.
Do you have an onboarding checklist? Does it include the simple steps above? Do you follow a written plan you follow every time you bring a new customer on for their first order? If not, don’t blame the escrow officer/closer. You are the Pilot In Command.
Without this checklist, the odds are definitely against you.
- The escrow officer/closer now has more work.
- The expectations of your new customer are high. (Otherwise they would have never opened the order)
- Your escrow officer/closer has not had a healthy conversation with them.
- You don’t know what their actual expectations are with you OR where they normally do business. In other words, it’s all guessing from there.
- The new file becomes unintentionally de-prioritized.
- The gap between what the customer has been promised and what they receive is now suddenly wider.
- Something inevitably goes wrong.
- The new customer calls the only person they have a relationship with: you, the rep.
- You then panic, get upset with your escrow officer and then … you make it worse. You say, “I will take care of it,” and likely even assure them that “This will not happen again.”
I cannot guarantee that having a checklist which you actually follow when onboarding a new customer will solve 100 percent of the issues. But I do have a guarantee for you. I will guarantee that in cases where a co-op agent or someone in their first or second directed transaction goes south, if you pull out your checklist you WILL find empty unchecked boxes. In other words, there will be missed critical steps of onboarding.
The problem is real, it is also very simple. Onboarding is 100 percent different than retaining a good customer who has a relationship with the escrow officer/closer already. If it is not treated 100 percent differently, you will have these issues.
Now that you know the problem, you can be the solution. Develop an onboarding checklist and follow it 100 percent of the time. ■
DARRYL TURNER is the CEO of the Title Sales Solutions, which specializes in the advancement of title companies in any economy. For more information, go to darrylturnerinternational.com or call 209-548-9000. For a free new customer onboarding checklist, email your request to info@ darrylturner.com.