No one sets out to provide a poor service – at least I hope they don’t – but sometimes the service we all receive can be rather less than we might have hoped for.
By the same token, while I believe we all strive to deliver a 100%, satisfaction guaranteed, service for all of our clients, that’s not always possible. And, in our industry, the reason behind that might have nothing directly to do with you at all.
We work within such a multi-faceted process, with various different providers, that there can be a feeling of not being in control when, for instance, agents become overly involved, or you pass the case to the packager or distributor or lender, or that case moves to the conveyancing firm.
When service standards slip, and delay kicks in, how many times have you felt quite justified in saying, “Sorry, the case is now with X, and the fault lies with them.”
And yet, what involvement did you have with the case being with X in the first place? I recently read some research from Smart Money People via its Mortgage Lender Benchmark, which looked at adviser satisfaction with mortgage lenders’ handling of cases.
The satisfaction rating for all mortgage cases was 81.1%, however when it came to lenders’ handling adverse credit cases this dropped considerably to 74.6% and was also lower – at 77.1% – for commercial buy-to-let cases.
Now, the argument here might be these tend to be more complex cases and therefore we have to accept that these might take longer to process, but should they really?
As a lender active in these spaces and promoting these products, why should there be a different service standard, or an acceptance of this, for more complex products? If you’re confident enough to deal in these product areas, your service should be just as good.
Advisers clearly have a part to play here in not placing cases with those whose service standards have been compromised. And this is why I know there’s considerable industry disquiet around the FCA’s focus on price being an overwhelming factor in the delivery of mortgage advice recommendations.
If you know the lender’s service is not going to match the expectations of either you and your client, then it seems absolutely right that you take that case to where it is, regardless of whether it’s the cheapest product available or not.
That’s how important service is in this market, and it’s a shame the regulator does not recognise it. Because you can have the cheapest product offering in the market but if you can’t deliver on time for the client, then it’s worth absolutely nought.
In my view, advisers are well within their rights to base their recommendations on this and we are currently fortunate to work in a highly competitive marketplace where there are lenders and product providers who might not be the cheapest, but they offer the very best service at very good rates. Why shouldn’t advisers be recommending these as opposed to those businesses whose service is well known not to be up to scratch?
Service matters, and while price is clearly important, I’d say it’s still not as important as getting a case completed on time, of ensuring the client is looked after, of dealing with potential issues quickly, of keeping all parties informed via regular communication, of being open, honest and transparent, of not allowing a case to sit on the back burner, the list goes on.
It would be a real shame if price is seen as the sole arbiter in what is still a service-led business, because quite frankly it’s not. In our business we believe in using the best conveyancers and while they are hugely competitive on price, most advisers will also recognise the benefits of the service over the price, and so will their clients.
So, let’s understand why the service we provide matters, let’s use those who also put service first, and let’s ensure that we give the client the best possible chance of the best possible experience they can have throughout the entire process.
Mark Snape is managing director of Broker Conveyancing