Loan Officers Beware: Exposing the Loyalty Myth

by : Joe Pahl

It used to be that when you closed a loan with a customer, you "earned" that customer's loyalty for life. That's just the way it was. People didn't really shop around looking for the best rates or lowest fees. They would ask family or friends who they used for financing assistance and used them as well. Loan officers were basically guaranteed to get all the future business from that customer. Forever.

But things have drastically changed.

Today's customers are more financially intelligent then ever before, mainly because of the use of the internet. There is no more mystery of the whole mortgage process. More and more individuals are doing their mortgage research long before talking to a lending professional.

Because today's customer are so well informed, they have a lower value on the mortgage knowledge you have. This view causes them to be less loyal to you.

Not only that, but your customers can hop online and find twenty other loan officers in a matter of minutes.

So what can you do?

First of all, you need to go beyond just adding customers to your database. Don't laugh. I have seen too many mortgage professionals who either don't have a formal database of previous customers or who do have a database but never contact their customers. Your database is your goose that lays golden eggs.

But I believe most loan officers are not contacting their database enough because they mistakenly believe that when the customer needs financing or knows someone who does, that that customer will automatically call them. But most won't.

And how do I know this? When I was working as a marketing assistant for a high producing loan officer, we got a good percentage of business each month by telemarketing. The key phrase that we used that was so effective was this: "I won't take much of your time. I just wanted to know if your loan officer has informed you that interest rates are at a 25 year low, but that the window to refinance and take advantage of these rock-bottom rates is quickly closing. Has your mortgage professional informed you of this?"

Of those prospects that had not refinanced yet, I'd say about 6 out of 10 of them could not recall who their loan officer was without having to go digging through the documents of their last closing. Many of those prospects became our customers because it was simply easier to get the information from me right there then it was for them to go searching through boxes to find out who their loan officer was. There is no loyalty.

So what can you do about it?

1. Don't end the sales process with the closing. Contact that customer the day after closing, seven days later, a month later, etc. Make sure that they are fully satisfied after leaving the closing table. Make yourself unforgettable. This would also be a good time to ask for referrals.

2. Contact your past customers more frequently. If you want to be the first person your client thinks about when anyone mentions the term "loan officer" then you need to touch base with them more than once a year or even quarterly. I recommend, at the minimum, a follow-up system that contacts past customers on a monthly basis.

3. Become their friend. How loyal are you to your friends? I know that you want to portray an image of professionalism, but if you want to keep your customers loyal (ie. earn more money on referrals and repeat loan transactions) then you are going to need to become a friend in their eyes.

Although loyalty is becoming a rare commodity these days, it is not impossible. Just don't continue to believe that loyalty is earned because you closed a loan. You need to do much more than that. The good news is that if you follow my suggestions and actually do form a strong bond with your customers, you truly will have customers for life.