When I'm coaching organizations through refining their business processes, we eventually get to the point where we have to tackle service level agreements. Once you've charted out your business process and you see how everything fits together, you can really start to iron out your priorities. What promises are you making, both internally and externally, and do you really have the resources to actually keep them?
The problem with many of us as leaders in the mortgage industry is that we fall into the trap of making promises like politicians: we tell people what they want to hear rather than what we are actually capable of achieving. We don't really know if our current structure has the capabilities of fulfilling our service level agreements, but we just make the guarantees and then hope for the best. Needless to say, this is not a great strategy for success!
The first thing to do when making service level promises is to set reasonable expectations. When in doubt, promise less to the customer and give yourself more time. Most people work the other way around, thinking they'll lose business if they aren't efficient enough. Certainly, that is a real possibility. But if you have a good handle on your business processes, then you will at least be able to explain why you need the extra time to deliver the best service. If you can justify the time you take and explain why it's important, you'll be much more likely to keep the customer.
Whatever you do, don't make promises you can't keep! You can always give yourself some slack and then work on improving turnaround times little by little. But, in the meantime, set expectations that won't let people down. Above all else, keep your promises!
David Lykken, a 43-year veteran of the mortgage industry, is president of Transformational Mortgage Solutions (TMS), a management consulting firm that provides transformative business strategies to owners and “C-Level” executives via consulting, executive coaching and various communications strategies. He is a frequent guest on FOX Business News and hosts his own weekly podcast called “Lykken On Lending” heard Monday’s at 1:00 p.m. ET at LykkenOnLending.com. David’s phone number is (512) 759-0999 and his e-mail is David@TMS-Advisors.com.