This ‘new normal’, however, is likely to include an element of hybrid working – both remote and in-person. For the mortgage market, which adapted efficiently to the pressures of the last 18 months, this shift could well bring its own challenges.
How will the hybrid model affect customer and broker service, for example?
What does customer service look like after the digital switch many of us made during the pandemic? How does the return to the workplace influence customer service operations? Many brokers will already be asking these questions, and for a large portion, the answer will be a combination of both online and offline services.
Here are my top tips for a smooth transition to hybrid service and striking the right balance of offline and online client communication.
Coronavirus is no longer an excuse
The transition to remote working, and the placement of a big section of the workforce on furlough, meant that most lenders service wait times for customer and intermediary queries increased during the early phase of pandemic.
However, as time went on many lenders found ways to adapt and deliver levels of service which kept the mortgage industry going. At Coventry for Intermediaries, we increased our resource allocation for our broker support teams and avoided diverting staff into customer areas, which in turn reduced our call waiting times during the first lockdown.
Now that the government furlough scheme has ended, and many employees have started returning to the office, coronavirus is no longer an excuse for poor service. The reopening of the housing market, bolstered by the stamp duty holiday, saw intermediaries and lenders busier than ever.
This is set to continue with thousands of customers’ fixed rate mortgages expected to mature this year. In these busier periods, lenders and intermediaries must ensure they consistently deliver a high quality service.
Hybrid’s the word
During the crisis, lenders and intermediaries switched from in-person meetings and calls to video conferencing. Lenders also made use of digital tools such as online chat services and digital query forms.
In the new hybrid working environment, the challenge facing many lenders and intermediaries is how to strike the right balance to ensure their clients can get in touch through whichever channel is best for them.
Digital tools have become essential to delivering quality customer service. Consumers now have high expectations for a speedy, simple, and efficient online experience.
Face-to-face meetings bring a number of their own advantages to customer service. In person meetings can produce higher levels of engagement and opportunities to collaborate and build rapport and relationships
Four top tips for brokers to transition to hybrid working
- Use technology to your benefit – making use of digital due diligence tools, such as ID verification and credit checks, will allow you to progress applications wherever you are and whenever you need. In addition, using online tools such video conferencing will help to enable human interaction instead of replacing it
- Be flexible – whilst people are adjusting to post-pandemic life, some will appreciate the resurgence of face-to-face meetings whilst others will prefer the efficiency that video conferencing provides. Intermediaries should be flexible and offer clients the option to meet face-to-face or virtually.
- Hold longer meetings in person – if a meeting is going to be rather long, holding it in person can be more engaging and effective. For example, initial client meetings might be more effective in person than video calls as new clients are likely to have lots of questions and the introductory meeting might be longer than subsequent ones.
- Make use of lenders’ digital tools for speedy responses – many lenders have invested in improving their digital offering, particularly in the last year. When you want to get in touch with a lender, use online channels such as online chat services to get quick responses from lender staff.