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Turn Your Clients Into Repeat Borrowers

A Guide to Customer Retention

Lauren Rirchards Rosenfarb
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Lauren Richards Rosenfarb
Turn Your Clients  Into Repeat Borrowers

Let’s say you just got married. Congratulations! You’re home from the honeymoon. You’ve written your last thank-you card, and all the work is done. Or is it? Of course not. As everyone knows, satisfying, lasting relationships take work. Sitting on opposite ends of the couch, watching Netflix for the next 50 years does not a relationship make.

Similar to marriage, once we make the first sale and the honeymoon is over, it’s not time to let the relationship crumble. With a little bit of effort, we can keep our relationships fresh and create lifelong partnerships with our borrowers. 

The necessity of retaining customers became clear throughout the early 2000s. The popularity of Software as a Service (SaaS) and other subscription-based products was on the rise. Unlike anyone buying outright or entering into a long-term contract, a Salesforce or Dollar Shave Club member could walk away fairly easily. As a response, an entire philosophy and industry, called Customer Success (CS), developed. In the subscription-based economy, the customer is queen, and CS provides a comprehensive system to treat her as such.

Even across industries that don’t charge a recurring subscription, the CS philosophy is subtly shifting sales, marketing, and operations. We know it’s easier and less costly to keep our current customers than it is to chase down new ones. But how do we keep them?

The Ten Laws elaborated upon in the book Customer Success by Nick Mehta have become a virtual bible in the CS field. Three of these laws, when taken together, can serve as a three-step marketing guide for any loan officer looking to retain customers. Let’s break down the laws into three parts: plan, engage, and monitor.

 

1st CS Law: You can no longer build loyalty through personal relationships.

This requires planning. With more customers, comes more moving parts and new challenges. When your business has grown to the point that you can no longer maintain one-to-one relationships with each of your borrowers, it’s time to build trust at scale. A relationship marketing strategy creates a roadmap for the future to retain your borrowers after closing.

But before you put any strategy in black and white, make sure you’re set up for success. Any strong marketing plan will be true to your brand, so make sure your brand mission is well defined. Ask yourself:

• Why are you in business?

• Who wants to buy what you’re selling?

• What are you promising?

• How are you different?

When it comes to effective branding, the brand statement of Dyson, famous for its innovative appliance designs, comes to mind: Solve the obvious problems others ignore. Based on the model of a sawmill, James Dyson went through 5,127 prototypes before creating a vacuum that didn’t lose suction as its bag filled up. Clearly distilled in six words, Dyson’s directive sums up the ingenuity and distinctiveness of its products.

With your brand mission statement in hand, draft the retention section of your customer relationship plan. Think about how repeat business fits into the entire journey your customers walk with you. Two approaches to consider are flywheel marketing (using the momentum of happy customers to generate referrals and repeat business) and journey mapping (charting a customer’s experience over time). 

Regular communication strengthens relationships. So deeply embed your tech stack, especially your CRM, into your plan to automate communication with your customers. 

Repeat Borrowers

2nd CS Law: Customers and clients naturally tend to drift apart.

Now that your plan is in place, it’s time to put it into action through engagement. As any customer success manager knows, you must work to earn the trust of your clients constantly. Proactive interaction with your clients keeps them from fading away. So focus your plan’s engagement section on providing relevant, interesting content. Ignore the urge to lead with product-first marketing. Instead, put your clients’ needs first. Fortunately, you have something your clients want and need: financial knowledge. 

As their mortgage advisor, think about how you can best educate your clients. Your content doesn’t need to ooze creativity or go viral, but it does need to be relevant — the more relevant, the better. What do your clients care about? Neighborhood info, pricing trends, interest rates, market data, loan scenarios? Consider whether your clients would attend a seminar to buy a retirement home, repair their credit, or invest in real estate.

Trust is the foundation of most marketing, and it’s up to us, marketers and salespersons, to build it. Sharing your thoughts and what’s going on in your life in a genuine way builds strong trust with your clients. When you share news and updates, use entertaining stories, videos, and images that reflect your personality. Again, use your tech stack. The best ones will provide you with targeted, timely, and personal communication that you can build upon in your own voice.

What are some of the best ways to retain your clients? According to a digital-marketers survey, email remains the most effective tactic followed by social media and content marketing. SMS, in-app messages, and push notifications are frequently used too. Effective educational tools include blog posts, webinars, events, explainer videos, and how-to guides. As you branch out beyond email, prioritize what you’re good at. And even if you’re someone who “doesn’t do video,” give it a try. Video is one of the best ways to show what makes you special to a larger audience.

3rd CS Law: Become metrics driven.

You’ve successfully created a plan and have begun to implement it. But is it the right plan? You won’t know without monitoring your progress. Noom and other tracking-based, weight-loss programs have become popular for a reason: You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Evaluate your services to learn what you can improve for new and existing clients. Create a monitoring section of your marketing plan that details how you’ll gather customer feedback and other real data. 

Complex statistical models abound, but to measure customer loyalty, you can actually keep it simple. Business strategist Fred Reichheld found that a single customer-satisfaction question correlates directly with a company’s growth: How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague? The question measures customer loyalty so effectively because a client will only put her reputation on the line if she feels intensely loyal. A high score, called a net promoter score (NPS), doesn’t guarantee growth, but in most industries, growth can’t be achieved without it. 

What should your score be? Scores range from -100 to 100. Throughout 2021, U.S. financial services averaged an NPS of 56, making the industry one of the highest performing. And loan officers generally score even higher. If you’re aiming for Starbucks or Costco levels of customer loyalty, shoot for a score of at least 75. Most importantly, track your own results over time. A platform like Experience.com can survey your clients and measure results for you. If you want to send out your own surveys, view the sidebar for more information. 

Of course you want to find new customers, but don’t forget to work on your marriage with your past customers. Developing your existing relationships is mutually rewarding. It’s like they say happy spouse, happy house. And don’t worry. It’s totally fine to sit on the couch and watch some Netflix sometimes.

Close more loans, be more efficient, stay out of trouble.

Find more at Pro School
This article was originally published in the Mortgage Women Magazine December 2021 issue.
Lauren Rirchards Rosenfarb
Lauren Richards Rosenfarb

Lauren Richards Rosenfarb is director of marketing at Delmar Mortgage.

Published on
Dec 20, 2021
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