1. How did effective customer service increase new, repeat and referred business during FY20?
The approach to customer service at Cherry Lending & Finance is centred around education and empowerment. This provides a basis to nurture an ongoing and supportive professional relationship with my clients, rather than it simply be a once-off business transaction. FY20 included COVID-19 and Melbourne Metro lockdowns, but I took these unforeseeable events in my stride to ensure a high degree of customer service to support first-home buyers.
I worked tirelessly when the pandemic hit to create additional educational resources, such as regular blogs, videos (some in collaboration with a local real estate agent) and employed a social media marketing specialist to ensure I could focus on my clients while still updating content on Facebook and Instagram without spreading myself too thin. In all of these efforts, I removed the jargon and explained the information only relevant to them in everyday language so clients can feel empowered to make an informed decision and know exactly what’s available to them.
This approach to customer service has delivered solid growth from the outset, with FY20 being no exception. Nikki, I’ll let you add in the stats here in whichever format you like.
2. Please describe your point of difference/unique selling points when servicing the needs of borrowers.
Purchasing a first home should be an exciting time, but unfortunately many don’t know where to begin and feel daunted by the experience. To help, I have streamlined my approach into three stages – Dream Weaving, Hand Holding, and Next Stepping.
The Dream Weaving stage provides clarity and inspiration. My first-home buyers’ seminars are often the start of my client’s purchasing journey. The content covers deposit amounts; lending criteria (and the impact Uber Eats and After Pay have on their approval!); government incentives; and the genuine cost of buying. I also write all my own blogs and create regular newsletters with content that is appealing, relevant and easy-to-digest.
During the Hand Holding stage, we create a personalised plan to make the dream a reality, including devising a budget, setting savings goals, and how to effectively manage finances.
The final stage is Next Stepping. A mortgage is one of the biggest financial commitments one can make, but it’s also an exciting one, so I ensure my clients don’t forget to celebrate and that I’m creating ongoing relationships! This includes:
- Post-settlement call
- Branded thank-you card and gift
- Post-settlement email outlining details of their loan and lender
- Annual review of interest rate (negotiated if required) and loan product
- Branded anniversary card to celebrate their first year
I also monitor properties, alerting clients to anything matching their needs, even attending open houses if they are unable to. My close connections with estate agents provides access to off-market properties that may not have been advertised.
3. What has been your greatest achievement in increasing your customer service/satisfaction capabilities during FY20?
With negative property talk in the media at the beginning of COVID-19, I took pride in remaining a positive presence in the community. I didn’t want first home buyers to think their dreams were now unattainable. I strived to ensure they still achieved their goals by remaining a positive source of factual and up-to-date information.
I collaborated with a local real estate agent to create weekly video wrap-ups about the local property market, as well as timely updates regarding incentives for first-home buyers and government support for those experiencing financial hardship. I was conscious to remove jargon and explain everything in everyday language, so that my target audience remained inspired. I also employed a social media marketing specialist to implement a softer approach to my social channels, encouraging people to remain positive and optimistic. These combined efforts meant business continued to grow in 2020 and customer satisfaction remained top tier.
For example, in March 2020 just before lockdown, Luke attended my first home buyers’ seminar. He thought buying his first home was still a long way off, and with the pandemic, was certain he wouldn’t purchase anything in 2020, but wanted to learn and be prepared.
I followed up with Luke and helped him to devise a plan which saw him achieve his goal much sooner rather than he expected. Much to Luke’s surprise, he was much closer to making his dream a reality and within three months, he had purchased his first property, moving in on July 22, 2020.
4. In 25 words or less, answer, “What winning the award means to you”.
I’m passionate about empowering young adults to purchase their first home. Being formally recognised for my efforts is the cherry on top (pun intended)!