?> Does Your Customer Service Policy Support You or Your Customer?
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Does Your Customer Service Policy Support You or Your Customer?

miniature_carsMy son Jake is 8 years old. He loves his little cars and trucks – 252 loves at last count!

Every time that he receives birthday or holiday money, it immediately burns a hole in his pocket and he wants to go to the local big box toy store to buy some more.

On a recent trip to the store, he splurged and bought a $15 truck, trailer, and race car combo that he just “had to have”. When we got home, we discovered that the packaging was more than just fancy packaging. This “toy” was really meant to sit on a shelf and be displayed just like a trophy.

Well, for an 8 year old, this toy would not do.  It had to go back. There was no way that he could have something just sitting on a shelf and not be able to play with it. So we taped the receipt to the packaging and set it aside for our next trip to the store.

Ninety-two days later, I found the toy sitting on the top shelf of a closet. Somehow, we had forgotten to return the toy. That same day we went to the local big box toy store with unopened box and receipt in hand. When we arrived, we were immediately told, “sorry, we do not accept returns after 90 days”. I tried to talk my way through it. I asked for store credit instead of cash. I even made sure to have the poor innocent face of an 8-yr old beside me. No such luck. The rule is the rule and we are two days late! (So much for turning the frown upside down!)

Two days! What difference does two days make? I understand policy. I even read the fine print on the receipt and it said the same thing. I get it. But if you are still stocking and selling the same item, and it is the same price (yes, I checked), then what difference does two days really make? Especially if we are willing to accept a store credit?

On our way home I started to think about this experience.  How is YOUR customer service? Do you bend your policies? Or are you stiff and rigid too? In the mortgage industry, we may not have products that our customers can return, but we do have to deal with customers. What is your rule for returning phone calls or emails? Do you keep your professional partners updated on loan status? Do you attend your closings? Do you thank your customers after the transaction? Have you implemented a customer retention program?

The good thing that has come out of this lesson: After wasting $15 on a useless toy, Jake is now understanding that Amazon.com is fun to shop at too and you do not have to leave the house!

Sorry big-box…..I understand that the rules are the rules.  But it was only 2 days and a $15 toy!

August 22, 2009 by · Leave a Comment

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About Doug

Doug is a mortgage professional with over 14 years of experience in the industry. In 2005, Doug founded Jacob Dean Mortgage, Inc. and sold the company in 2008. He is still actively involved in Jacob Dean Mortgage as the Vice President of Operations focusing on compliance, licensing, and legal matters. Doug's other passions include flying and aviation. Doug is married to Michele and has two boys, Jacob and Dean, hence the name of the company!

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  1. Nice post Doug.

    I can’t help but to draw the parallel between the decisioning process of underwriters these days and the actions of the clerk or manager that you dealt with at the store.

    Used to be that underwriters were allowed to think for themselves and understood the concept of guidelines meaning “guide line” as opposed to a hard and fast rule to be followed to the letter and interpreted in the strictest sense no matter the situation.

    Yes, some of that contributed to getting us into trouble yet, I’m not referring to the ultimate lack of guidelines and qualification criteria we had a few short years ago, rather, I’m referring to what we are left with now which is seemingly, the complete swing of the pendulum back to the stone ages (when I started my mortgage career) and then some.

    As you so clearly pointed out, it would be one thing if the toy were no longer stocked and it was going to cost the seller to take it back, another if a customer relationship were maintained and a young boy was made happy all while the store moved another $15 worth of merchandise off its shelves in the process or assuring your ultimate return trip to the store to do so.

    As with underwriters making decisions (following checklists?) for the GOE’s (Government Owned Enterprises) the problem here is that the owners of the store are not the ones that work there. The rules are made by those with an entirely different mandate and there is seemingly no room for the application of grey matter at the customer level.

    Alas, to some degree, there’s not always enough grey matter at the customer level and I’m often reminded of this by the expression on the clerk’s face when I hand them a 5 dollar bill and a quarter for a $3.25 total and they get that confused look on their face…

    Still, that’s not as scary as when an underwriter conditions for a clearer copy of an asset statement that has grey lines for sub account totals rendering those parts hard to read due to it being faxed when the grand total of over $420,000 is still quite clear (not to mention the individual mutual fund totals being very clear between those grey lines and this being a 11% LTV refi with 780 ficos and a payment dropping by $1800 per month – but hey, an underwriter actually using a calculator must be against the rules now even when the statement is not 92 days old…

  2. Doug Adamczyk says:

    Those are some great examples Brian. It is always interesting – there are rules that we need to live by and also what I like to call common sense! And lately it seems that the lower the LTV, the less likely the loan is going to get approved.

  3. David Orsini says:

    At some point the ‘customer first’ philosophy went out the window. Stores like Best Buy are notorious for this. In a relationship driven industry such as ours we absolutely have to essentially do the opposite of what you described above Doug. Unfortunately, not everyone in the loan channel (ie underwriters) always gets that. The customer is your problem, not theirs in their eyes.

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