By Vikki Jefferies, Proposition Director, PRIMIS Mortgage Network
Short-term pain, long-term gain: How to have the difficult customer conversations earlier
According to market predictions, over half a million mortgages are expected to reach the end of their term in the second half of this year. However, as shown by the latest BoE interest rate rise to 5.25%, mortgage rates have surpassed mini-budget peaks, and the Bank of England recently revealed that average mortgage costs will likely go up by nearly £3,000 per year. whilst two-year fixed rates hit the highest level (6.66%) since the 2008 financial crisis, a portion of larger lenders have begun to reduce their rates in recent weeks.
As consumer concerns continue, advisers have had to adapt in order to ease worries amid a mass of market developments and product expiries. To deal with these changes, brokers are increasingly talking to customers in advance of product maturity, catering to consumer demand for such support. By doing this, brokers are helping customers to find the right solution for them, whether that be to temporarily go onto an SVR until rates become more favourable, or to fix for a shorter period of time.
This can present a number of short-term challenges for brokers, including difficult conversations on the details of their requirements. However, this also provides a platform for better, stronger relationships. This, in turn, paves the way for less fractured processes and more enjoyable conversations with customers further down the line. So, what can brokers do to ensure they are maximizing these opportunities?
Proactive communication with clients
It can be tempting to put off difficult conversations, especially when clients are not yet up for product renewal. Reaching out to them may seem like unnecessary work amid other pressing priorities for brokers. However, it is essential brokers remain on the front foot, and initiate contact with their customers to pre-empt renewals and alleviate potential concerns.
This means maintaining regular communication with all clients, regardless of what stage they are at in their mortgage journey. This can be as simple as a quick call or text to touch base with them and gauge any pressure points or worries. This will help brokers’ understanding of each customer’s circumstances and means that they can pick up on any potential roadblocks at the earliest possible stage.
Brokers should also think about how they approach customers with more vulnerable characteristics, and what additional support they can provide them with. In particular, they should ask these customers if there is any way they can adjust the process to remove any obstacles to them achieving their homeowning ambitions.
Mortgage networks are a valuable resource for brokers when it comes to adapting the frequency and tone of their communications with their clients. Being abreast of market changes and how this applies to clients’ circumstances is a central use case of mortgage networks. For example, PRIMIS Mortgage Network’s customer relationship management (CRM) system, Toolbox, enables brokers to automate the process of contacting clients; to record key takeaways from conversations more easily; and to schedule regular follow-up calls. By using this, brokers can ensure that they are frequently reaching out to their customers amid a rapidly changing market, while also minimising the amount of admin involved and thereby buying back valuable time. Amid a raft of UX changes, including a swathe of new developments on the Toolbox platform, brokers can also make suggestions based on the needs they are seeing in the market. From talking to their customers and other stakeholders, PRIMIS is able to proactively update the platform based on insights fed in by brokers.
All this investment in client communications will boost brokers’ client retention. Customer trust is only going to be bolstered by broker attentiveness, with consumers more likely to use a broker for their remortgage or product transfer if they are fully aware of where they’re at on their journey.
Keep pace with market developments
Just as borrowers’ individual circumstances are changing rapidly, so is the state of play in the wider mortgage market. Having a finger on the pulse of product developments and rate changes will be key to ensuring brokers can be on-hand to give each customer the best advice at any given point in time. Access to a supportive network is critical for staying up-to-date on the availability and criteria of mortgage products. Through regular updates that PRIMIS provides to its members, brokers can tailor their advice to the real-time market conditions alongside their customers’ individual circumstances.
Amid a challenging economic climate, it is vital that brokers are doing all they can to proactively alleviate customers’ worries about their impending product maturity. While having these conversations earlier entails added broker foresight, it will pay dividends in the long run for customer peace of mind and client retention.