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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   October 2008

Look Under Your Customer-Service Hood

Give your company a tuneup by avoiding four common pitfalls and implementing the five S’s

The most-successful companies typically provide a customer-service experience that creates loyalty among their customers. Although many customers value customized options and personable interactions, nothing beats having a consistent experience every time. This is especially important in the mortgage industry, where brokers rely on past clients and referrals to build their businesses.

When analyzing your mortgage company’s customer-service operation, make sure to look under the hood to see where you may need a tuneup.

Four common mistakes

Here are four places where customer service often fails:

  1. Upgrade overload: There comes a point in every project when it’s time to stop making improvements and finish the job. Although it’s important to improve processes continually, too many upgrades are confusing to customers and can create a customer-service nightmare. Save your upgrade ideas for later and schedule them so that your employees have time to understand and communicate them to clients.
  2. Poor team dynamics: When you create walls within your company, you create roadblocks to serving customers. Make sure you empower your customer-service team with accurate, timely information and that team members comfortably communicate with one another -- especially when there are problems or red flags.
  3. Multitasking: People work best when they work on one task to its completion and don’t juggle multiple tasks simultaneously. If multitasking is necessary, make sure that your customer-service team has the right support and training to work as efficiently as possible.
  4. Chaotic work environments: Clutter -- on your desk and on your computer -- can slow down work and also affect how people feel about their work environments. It also is distracting, and the last thing you want is to sound distracted or baffled when speaking to a client.

The five S’s

To stay productive, it is a good idea to have a “five S” event with your team, both at the beginning of a project and as part of the project status reports. It stands for:

  1. Sort: Only have items in your work area that you use daily. Put everything else away in its place. Create filing systems for quick retrieval, for both paper and electronic-based information.
  2. Straighten: Have a designated place for all movable items, such as desktop organizers. Label everything in macro-work areas to create a logical workflow for shared office machines, such as copiers and printers.
  3. Shine: Make everything look like new and ensure everything operates perfectly. Empty recycle bins and wastebaskets nightly.
  4. Standardize: Have visual controls for common areas, such as how to use copiers and wall-planning calendars.
  5. Sustain: Have a daily and weekly system to keep up with the improvements that you have made.

•  •  •

Every customer-service operation is different, but the roadblocks often are the same. Take some time to look at your customer service using these tips and see where you can make some small improvements. They may lead to big changes. 


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