What borrowers think of youSteve Bliskocustomer interaction, business approach, customer retention In today's competitive marketplace, it is not uncommon to spend so much time working on what we perceive to be important--such as the "business model," paperwork, vendors and industry news--that we fail to focus on the living, breathing consumers on the other side of the desk. While this is not unique to any single industry, mortgage brokers are in some ways more susceptible. In dealing directly with consumers attempting to secure their version of the perfect future, the stress of making the "American Dream" a reality can push brokers to overlook the personal side of business in favor of a quick closing. What we must bear in mind is just how emotional this process is for most borrowers. Typically, consumers are facing one of two scenarios. Either, they have found the home of their dreams and are ready to act, or they need to refinance in order to maintain their current standard of living. Either way, this sort of financing is exceptionally personal in nature and clients should be handled with extreme care. Brokers have a tendency to present themselves as bankers, using a stern authoritative approach that makes the buyer nervous from the start. While there is truth to the idea that the average consumer looks for a broker who appears trustworthy, maintaining individualized treatment for each client is paramount. Two recent focus groups conducted by the marketing team at MortgageConcierge.com indicated that most borrowers view the home buying or refinance experience as one of the most stressful ventures in life. The same participants equated the anxiety of financing a new home or refinancing their current residence with getting married or losing a steady job. Let's consider this for a moment. Combine the stress of a financial situation with the personal nature of one's home, add paperwork and questions asked with little information or instruction offered in return, and you quickly create one very apprehensive consumer. So, what can we do to ensure a positive encounter each time we meet with a potential client? Again, referring to the MortgageConcierge.com focus group, participants noted that the following would make them feel more comfortable choosing a broker to help them meet their financial goals: •Have a "Can Do" attitude and a positive approach. •Practice the three "Ps": Be polite, professional and pleasant. •Be responsive. Take the time to respond to a client's concerns. This may be as simple as pointing him or her to a resource where they can uncover their own answers. •Be proactive. Anticipate what a client's concerns might include. This can be as simple as improving the content on your Web site or providing a fact sheet at your first meeting. •Be resourceful. So, option 'A' won't work? Tell them what will! Be prepared with several alternatives as well as simple explanations of the pros and cons of each. Used individually, each of these will serve to improve client relations and make the loan process more manageable for everyone involved. Added as a collection to your current sales repertoire, the five qualities listed above will aid in expanding your client base and increasing your closing rate. Essentially, take the time to make a friend and your client will respond in kind. The referrals alone will be worth the investment in time. In the end, the lesson is no more complicated than the age-old mantra, "Treat others as you want to be treated yourself." The great Golden Rule strikes again, and with an ever-expanding group of licensed brokers now available, consumers have the desire and the wherewithal to search for someone whose bottom line involves more than commissions and credit scores. Make the little changes today and go from the broker who helps them find a house, to the broker who makes their house a home. Steve Blisko is CEO of Global Inet Marketing in Ponte Vedra, Fla. He may be reached at (888) 244-5622 or e-mail [email protected].