How brokers can stay competitive in a digital age

Technological disruption is sweeping through the financial services sector. For brokers wanting to stay ahead of the competition, it pays to learn from the breakthrough companies — from Tesla to Alibaba — that have disrupted their respective industries in recent years.

Rohit Mahna, general manager of financial services at Salesforce — the US enterprise cloud software company that has transformed customer relationship management (CRM) — shared his insights at the PLAN Australia High Performance Conference in March.

Mr Mahna said that technology has fundamentally changed customer expectations.

“The customer is more connected than ever before. Their expectations are being reset by these new companies, new brands, and they are expecting a different experience out of the financial services institutions.”

In the age of the iPhone, Netflix and Twitter, customers demand immediate responses. Accustomed to intelligent product recommendations from businesses like Amazon as they shop online, they expect personalised services whether when buying clothing or taking out a loan.

“They are looking for their bank and their mortgage broker, to really understand who they are, to really help them achieve their personal goals,” Mr Mahna said.

So, how can you apply these concepts to your broking business?

Engage in social

Social media is a great way to respond to customers’ desire for both immediate responses and personalised service, the general manager said.

“When customers post on LinkedIn or Facebook, don’t be afraid to respond with useful information, but resist the temptation to rush in with a hard sell.

“First, share valuable, relevant and timely information with your customer to build trust.”

Know your customer

It’s also more important than ever for brokers to get to know as much as they can about their customers, Mr Mahna said.

In the digital age, the opportunity to collect and analyse data is more powerful than ever. By using technology to gather as much information on your customer, or your lead, you can better understand their broader goals.

Information can come from a wide range of sources, from social media to the documentation your customer completed last time they purchased a mortgage through you, he said. Your CRM system also represents a wealth of opportunities for collecting data.

Mr Mahna recommended reviewing this information before you engage with your customer whether online or in person, to ensure you talk in the language of the customer and make the conversation personal.

“People don’t buy mortgages. They buy homes. If we put the customer truly at the centre of what we do, that changes the way we engage,” he said.

Keep your eyes on the end goal

Finally, focus on helping your customers achieve their broader goals.

Look at the immediate goal, such as buying a home or investment property, and also beyond to the bigger picture, their broader life goals, he said.

Perhaps the customer wants to not only buy a home, but would also like to take a holiday twice a year. If you don’t have all the answers or products your customer needs to achieve their overall goal, recommend someone who can, Mr Mahna said. This can be a great way to strengthen your customer relationship.

“You could bring in someone else who is in the network, maybe give a lead to someone that you know. You’ve got a great network of people in your industry. That’s a power you have that’s different to any of the disruptors.”

We’ll bring you more insights from the PLAN Australia High Performance Conference in future blogs. Other speakers at the conference included Alison Hill, author of “Dealing with the Tough Stuff: How to Achieve Results from Key Conversations”, management coach Peter Gilchrist and banking transformation expert Philip Gomm.

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