Ask most mortgage professionals what drives a case and you would probably get the answer, ‘communication’. Being that link-man or woman between all the various parties and your client is absolutely crucial when it comes to ensuring they get the service they want, and that they feel fully aware and informed about where their case is in the process.
It’s of course no different when we move on to the conveyancing element but, client feedback in this area, is often not as positive because (for lots of different reasons and depending on the conveyancer used) there can be a perceived lack of communication between the solicitor firm and the client. This tends to be heightened by the fact that, when it comes to the conveyancing process itself, many members of the public have little idea what is supposed to happen, at what point, their own responsibilities in this, let alone what the conveyancer needs to do their job, or what they need from the client and all other stakeholders.
We know the process can seem incredibly complicated and convoluted for Joe Public, and when you add in the fact that they often feel out of the loop when it comes to the details of their case, the level of frustration and stress can only go one way.
Just before Christmas I read some research from the conveyancing software firm, InfoTrack, on this very topic. It asked home-movers about their conveyancing experience and it drew out some interesting responses – for instance, 55% said they felt frustrated by the lack of control they had over the process, 44% felt they didn’t receive enough communication, however on a more positive note, 84% were happy with the conveyancing service they received.
That said, the need for increased levels of communication and the request for different ways to access this information was clear to see. 47% said they wanted improved digital communication updates from their conveyancers be that through online portals/case tracking facilities/instant messenger/text messages, and that’s really not surprising when you consider how other industries work when it comes to keeping their customers informed.
If you’re buying something online, you now automatically expect to be able to track your order all the way through the process, from the time that order is received to the moment it is delivered to you. Consider the system Amazon, for example, use and you can understand why some conveyancing clients feel somewhat short-changed by the information they receive. Indeed, while the larger firms do have these types of arrangements in place with online case tracking, text message updates, and the like, it is perhaps the high-street firms who have not invested in this type of technology who will leave a client feeling rather short-changed in this area.
There is of course a major component that can help significantly in this area – and that’s you, the adviser. From offering a conveyancing advice service to being a central point of contact for your client and the entire process, there are clearly major benefits to being heavily involved in everything from the mortgage advice, through to the choice of conveyancer. As a trusted source of information, it makes perfect sense for advisers to position themselves within this, and from experience, this will undoubtedly give the client confidence that they have at least one person they can come to for updates.
Communication breakdown is likely to be the number one complaint of a disgruntled client, however by taking that pivotal, central role and delivering advice, support and information across a range of product choices, you the adviser will be able to ‘dial down’ on these frustrations because you can act as the go-between and provide the information. Clients are bound to be fully appreciative of this and the benefits of delivering a quality, well-rounded service should be plain to see. It therefore makes sense to be as heavily involved as possible – your clients (and your income streams) should certainly see a boost from such an approach.
Harpal Singh is managing director of Broker Conveyancing