Aug 17 | 2016

Certified Resale Home: Delivering a superior customer experience

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customer experienceIt’s pretty clear that brands with a good understanding of the value of customer experience manage to be so successful in large part because of word of mouth. This level of exposure is what every company strives for!

Looking at real estate, agents are typically chosen based on referrals and/or repeat business (having worked with the same client previously). But what really underlies this choice?  In my opinion, CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

There have been numerous technological advancements that have made buying and selling a home much easier (i.e. online property searches, buy and sell checklists, electronic transaction platforms with e-signature etc.) but the secret ingredient will always remain the same – give a customer a great experience and they will come back for more or let others know about it.

When it comes to return on investment, delivering a superior customer experience will go beyond any marketing spend. It was one of the key opportunities we identified when FCT started to devise our Certified Resale Home service. Of course, it helps that delivering superior customer experiences has been our core value for the past 25 years.

Certified Resale Home is an impartial, honest and expert assessment of a home that provides greater transparency and information so that the seller, realtor, and buyer can make informed decisions.

Here’s what it can do for everyone involved:

The seller – get the best possible offer, quicker

  • Immediately differentiate the property and make it stand out
  • Optimize purchase offers
  • Enhance buyer comfort

The buyer – reduce anxiety and reduce the buyer beware environment

  • Build trust by offering more transparent information through a recognized ‘brand’
  • Ensure they have an impartial and honest inspection to rely on and peace of mind and confidence with a warranty to fall back on

The agents – increase customer satisfaction and generate referrals

  • Take control of the situation and get out in front of issues for their client
  • Reinforce their value with a superior full-service experience
  • Time is money – close listings faster

We are currently piloting with RE/MAX Niagara (Ontario) and Century21Carrie.com (Winnipeg).  If you are a homeowner looking to sell in those areas, contact us for more information. All pre-listing home inspections are fulfilled by AmeriSpec® Inspection Services.

Warranty Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited
® Registered Trademark of AmeriSpec Inspection Services.

Apr 28 | 2016

Where extraordinary is well, quite ordinary

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Commercial Solutions How FCT Commercial Solutions delivers superior customer service

In a previous blog, I discussed the top 10 reasons why you’d want to partner with FCT. While all 10 are critical to providing you with the service levels we’re known for, the number one reason to choose FCT is and always will be our driving force: providing a superior customer experience.

Our promise to you is that with each and every touch point you will Experience Excellence®.

What does this mean? It means friendly, fast service from experienced professionals that recognize your distinct needs. In fact, for 25 years now we’ve been building our commercial solutions division with highly experienced underwriters that work on a case-by-case basis to understand and facilitate the unique needs of each transaction. This practice allows us to provide customized coverage, ensuring a smooth and timely closing, no matter how big or complex the project.

By offering a consistent, yet personalized experience, we hope to make you feel valued. Your satisfaction is the key to our success and we strive to exceed your expectations across your entire journey with us. It’s how we help you build and protect your business while shaping ours.

And it seems to be working! Our current customer rating sits at an impressive 90%. But don’t think we’re resting at that — we’re already looking ahead at ways to win that additional 10%.

With our 25th anniversary upon us, it’s the perfect time to reflect on past successes. Can you think of time when FCT came through to help you close a challenging deal? Let us know by commenting below.

Jan 14 | 2015

FCT | Broker’s corner. End to end customer relationship toolkits—is 2015 the year to make the leap?

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differentiator_smallPart three of our three-part 2015 look ahead series

So now you have your three-word brand essence, your brand’s innermost story, the three words we generated last time and now’s the moment to take your brand public.

Ready?

A gentle reminder before you read on: it’s not about you. That’s the first thing.

Social networks—peer-to-peer reviews, self-help forums, the ability to query just about anybody anywhere—have so radically changed client expectations for any retail experience that we sometimes lose track of just how much things have changed. And response times to client queries—and the ability to converse with them, knowing full well where they actually are in their search/deal process—is gold.

But that’s not all.

Take reputation management: a simple misunderstanding can be shared to hundreds if not thousands of people in a heartbeat.

Once you recognize that it’s not about you, there’s a clear route forward: what legendary business thinker, author, and Harvard Business Review contributor Jim Collins calls SMaC in his bestselling Great by Choice.

What’s SMaC? SMaC tands for: simple, methodical and consistent. For as Collins says (and this guy runs the best business think tank on the planet in Boulder, Colorado): ”greatness is not a function of circumstance. It’s largely a function of conscious choice and discipline.”

That’s the irreducible truth.

And by far the best way to accomplish SMaC—the discipline—in relating to and with your clients is an end-to-end customer relationship toolkit. We’re not going to recommend a particular solution (too many variables in your business for that) but rather scope out how to ask the right questions before you sign on the dotted line.

Anyone can spend ten minutes googling and see that there are platforms and dashboards and analytic tools galore. Here’s a great, inexpensive custom dashboard solution: www.cyfe.com is cheap, almost infinitely customizable and if you know what you’re looking for, using a custom dashboard to track client interactions can create huge value in evolving your relationship with your current and future clients. Note that this isn’t just a social media relationship solution: a custom dashboard like this, properly configured, will tell you tons about the client/customer side of your business. (Big personal learning from deploying cyfe? Testing simple Facebook ads—testing one ad against the other—costs pennies but generates sales lift of over 200%. That’s a wow.)

What are potential clients actually thinking? what are they talking about? A simple Twitter hashtag search will tell you far more than any StatsCan datapoint; try #mortgagequestions and #buyingahouse for starters. Try it right now…get the picture? Good.

But what to do with this juicy client insight data once you have it?

You want a customer relationship management system: even a simple open source customer relationship management (CRM) system will lift your lead generation numbers.

First off, a CRM system is no small investment, not just in hard-earned dollars but in time to learn the thing. Don’t subscribe to one without a dead clear understanding of what the outcomes you’re after truly are—and what your ROI targets are: not just for leads, but actual converted deals, networked referrals and leads stemming from those networked referrals.

Here’s why you want to understand the power of a CRM system: just look at the response rates by simply, methodically and consistently following up with a client acquisition conversation documented in a CRM (source: www.Velocify.com):

  • 391%: leads called with 60 seconds have a 391% better chance of converting
  • 138%: attempting contact at least six times can increase your deal rate by 138%
  • 3 or more texts: sending three or more purposeful text messages after contact has been made with a prospect can increase the conversion rate by 328%
  • 50%: more than 50% of aging leads are still interested in buying 30 days after inquiry
  • 60%: nearly 60% of salespeople make less than six contact attempts
  • 78%: of buyers close with the company that contacted them first

 

To vet one system against another for your own business, check out this invaluable resource.  Hint: check out the open source solutions first—there’s real horsepower there.

So now you’ve done the heavy lifting: defining your brand, distilling the essence of the stories you want to tell…and thinking about how to continue the relationship your brand storytelling’s begun via a simple dashboard/CRM solution.

You can see ’em, you can talk to ’em and they’re beginning to see value in who you are. What’s next? Having a terrific 2015.

Questions or followup ideas? Email us at expertease@fct.ca—welcome to the conversation.

Oct 22 | 2014

Winning Mortgage Brokers Think ‘Challenge’

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It’s all about leading the conversation…where it serves everyone best: a solid sale

 

What differentiates a highly successful broker—meaning: someone who retains and grows their network rather than ‘churning’ it—is brutally clear in reading The Challenger Sale.

The differentiator is the ability to grow and evolve the relationship: the catchphrase is ‘challenge it’, but the upshot is simple. In order to stay ‘top of mind’ and not waste the terrific energy you’ve expended to get your client network to this point, The Challenger Sale argues, you have to grow and keep growing client perceptions of the possibilities of a relationship with you.

That’s the differentiator, because without instilling confidence in each and every person you meet that yours is the best brokerage experience around, your relationship with those prospects inevitably fades over time.

The research examining this is remarkable. It’s deep and broad and far more extensive than the usual sales research–at press time, some 6200 use cases in total, first examined in the dark, post-global financial crash days of 2009, when an Australian research council asked an uncomfortable question: why do some salespeople never seem to lose momentum, even in the hellish conditions of 2008-2010?

Those who succeed—notably in sales-driven industries like insurance and manufacturing—persistently challenge literally everyone of their acquaintance (clients, prospects, peers, and managers) to learn more and expand the customer’s expectations of the relationship.

Yes, a clear appreciation of the customer’s business is mission-critical but equally important is the ability, the research demonstrates, to address value head on—to challenge the customer’s understanding of his or her own situation to benefit both parties.

These ‘teachable moments’ pivot the relationship and drive the confidence that closes sales, builds value and extends word-of-mouth networks. Customers are far better informed than they were in 2008; ‘findable business’ has all but vanished since—the real issue is differentiating yourself from the herd in 2014 to capitalize and close those deals in the network you have at present.mortgage broker

Additional Resources

Great review/summary of The Challenger Sale

http://www.greenfieldbelser.com/big-ideas/the-challenger-sale-who-really-clinches-the-deal

Sespresso quick-read of The Challenger Sale

http://www.amazon.ca/Challenger-Sale-eSpresso-Summary-ebook/dp/B00CE7Y788/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411070114&sr=1-3&keywords=challenger+sale

Jun 10 | 2014

Reaching beyond our walls…

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YMCA

 Historians have described the YMCA as one of the great social movements of the last two centuries. “An unstoppable, unifying force for good. A rallying point for everyone who is dedicated to the growth of people in spirit, mind and body, and in a sense of responsibility to each other and the global community”. Originating in England in 1844, the YMCA movement quickly spread around the world.

What are the needs of Oakville today? Where are the gaps in the social safety net? What gaps can the YMCA fill?

Consider recent research findings:

• 1 in 9 children in Oakville lives in poverty.
• 67% of parents in Southern Ontario report it is hard to find enough quality time with their kids.
• 37% of children in Southern Ontario are described by their parents as behind in one or more more key areas of early childhood development.
• 1 in 3 children is clinically overweight or obese.
• 5% of children/youth (5-17yrs) meet minimum daily activity guidelines of 60 minutes.
• More than 10% of youth average more than 7 hours of screen time daily.
• 19% of Oakville grade 10 students have been bullied at school.
• $22,869 is the annual income a family of 4 receives from social assistance.
• Overall poverty rate in Oakville rose more than 22% in the past decade.
• 1 in three Canadian families cannot afford to enroll their children in sport or recreation activities.

Life today is more complex than ever before and the YMCA has even a larger role to play. Children regardless of where they live or their economic circumstances need to develop healthy habits, responsibility and values so they can overcome the challenges and adversities they meet. Youth need a safe place where they can socialize, develop leadership skills, land their first job, and shoot a few hoops. Adults need affordable quality child care, safe summer camp for their kids, and their own place where they can unwind and keep fit. Seniors need to stay physically and socially active through weight training, cardio-activities, and group fitness programs. Families need to be active and social together. People of all ages need a welcoming place to go where they are safe, and they can strengthen character and values and where they can be armed with improved self-esteem, optimism, determination and resilience. Everyone needs a healthy alternative to the multitude of unhealthy options of our current society. The Y provides options for thousands of people across Oakville…people who count on us to deliver high-quality, accessible programs where they can be connected and can belong.

Assuring accessibility, our YMCA is flexible and creative. We are eager to seek new ways to relate to people. Specialty programs are delivered in order to meet people in their own communities, people with special challenges, community organizations and fellow charities, where we can help them to meet their goals. Through engaging in partnerships combined with outstanding volunteer and staff participation, our YMCA is able to learn of community needs as they emerge and develop custom solutions.

In 2013, 2114 people in Oakville turned to us for support. They were single families, families with low incomes or those who had fallen on hard times and required transitional support due to illness, crisis or loss of employment. The cost of this support was $764,978. The YMCA raised over $200K through over 1400 donors to offset some of these costs. Over 490 volunteers contributed over 14,000 hours. 13,000 participants

Our YMCA is a relevant charity that develops grass-roots, solution-based programs to assure all in our community are healthy and growing. We have helped change lives and provided opportunity to achieve what people may never have thought possible. I invite you to reach beyond your walls to join the journey of providing profound opportunity.  We can and will achieve together.

Jun 4 | 2014

Duty to defend. Another customer care tool for your clients

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customer care

In my last blog posting I touched on how title insurance brings coverage solutions and/or efficiencies to commercial transactions depending on how lawyers/notaries decide to use it. In this post I will discuss how it can also be a great customer care and retention tool. With title insurance you have the ability to turn a potentially stressful situation into a positive experience for your customers specifically when an issue arises post-closing and the duty to defend provision is triggered.

What is this duty to defend?
Duty to defend essentially means that if anyone challenges or raises an issue that is covered under the policy, it is then the title insurer’s responsibility to pay all the legal costs and expenses to defend the insured’s interest in the land. The duty to defend is included in both residential and commercial policies, but for the purposes of this blog I will speak to its application to commercial properties.

How does it work?
You can be the best commercial real estate lawyer or notary on earth and do everything possible to ensure your client’s real estate purchase is a secure investment, but issues can still come up — issues that are out of your control that can leave you with an unhappy client.

The issue
The most common covered title risk that triggers the duty to defend is when third parties claim interest in the insured’s land. In most instances the third party has a valid claim; however, often claims are completely invalid. Some of the most common scenarios are:

The valid third-party claim:
• The Land Registrar may have neglected to bring forward an interest on conversion into the Land Titles system (e.g.an old easement) or an instrument is registered on the wrong parcel.
• The surveyor made an error on the location of the boundaries and it turns out the neighbour actually owns some of the insured’s property.

The invalid claim:
• This tends to happen when there is an intentionally difficult or opportunistic neighbour involved. There is clearly no issue or error at all, however a neighbour believes he/she has a right to the insured’s land. Often times this individual is motivated by another matter altogether and the end goal is to pressure the insured into offering a concession.This is probably the most prevalent invalid claim issue and definitely the most frustrating to deal with as an owner or as a lawyer/notary.

Regardless of whether the claim is valid or not,nothing can be done as a legal professional to avoid the issue. Furthermore, the unhappy client may be pointing the finger at his or her legal counsel in frustration. What happens next is dictated by whether or not the client has a title insurance policy in place.

The resolution without title insurance
Without title insurance the property owner’s lawyer or notary would explain the issue, the next steps and then quote the legal costs and expenses required to try and resolve the dispute/issue (even if it is a bogus claim!). Upon resolution, not only would the client be out legal expenses, but could be stuck with a diminution in value if the resolution is unfavorable.

The resolution with title insurance
With title insurance in place, lawyers and notaries have the ability to explain the issue to the client and let the client know that since the claim relates to a covered title risk, all legal fees and related costs are covered under the policy. At this point, we would retain a lawyer to defend the insured’s interest in the land, often providing an option to the existing lawyer/notary to continue on with the file to ensure the client is handled with the best possible care without additional cost.

It’s important to remember that FCT’s duty to defend takes effect whether the third-party claim is valid or not, as long as it relates to a covered risk. Also, there is no maximum dollar amount capping these costs and invoking this benefit does not reduce the amount of insurance. A significant portion of our claims dollars spent on commercial policies falls under our duty to defend coverage and many commercial legal professionals have seen firsthand how valuable this tool can be.

Has the duty to defend helped you provide a great customer experience? Let us know by commenting below or contacting us at FCTblog@fct.ca.

Apr 8 | 2014

Is technology disrupting or enhancing the customer experience?

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customer experienceI recently read a blog post by David Marcus, the President of PayPal, on how the payments industry is being disrupted and will be transformed. Technology is certainly driving the disruption but what’s driving the transformation? David’s argument is that today’s current system of payments is antiquated, full of friction and just not easy. With all the new technology we have, we still have to hail the server to pay for our dinner bill, or stand in line to pay for our merchandise at a retail store. It’s still painful. The point is not to paint a picture of what the transformed payments industry could look like. It is that transformation will be driven by considering the whole customer experience and looking for ways to make it easier for customer.

Technology has been a double edged sword. For many things, it has helped companies make things easier and it has offered us new, convenient experiences (where would we be without our smart phones?). But it has also increased business complexity by introducing new options and therefore more and different ways for customers to interact with companies. With this complexity comes an increased likelihood that the customer is going to get inconsistent service from the same company and that new sources of frustration will be introduced. This rapid evolution in the way we do business demands that we take a broader view of the customer experience.

Consider how you pay your bills and get your bank, credit card and service provider statements now. “In the old days” we had one or two options. Most people got their bills and statements in the mail and then either mailed in their cheque or went down to the bank to pay. There were a few things you could pay through pre-authorized payments. Now we have e-statements, (some of which are viewed through the bank site and some which require us to go the service providers site), paper statements, many different ways of paying my bills (pre-authorized through bank account, pre-authorized through credit card, online through web banking, some even still by cheque). Is it a good experience? Sure, there are more options and we can feel good about our contribution to the environment by signing up for paperless billing. But there is no one place to go to manage all of this. I find it painful. For all the technology and options, no one has looked at the complete customer experience and solved for what would make it really simple for customers.

In our business, too, there are many ways we interact with our customers; there is new technology in our business and there is new technology in our customer’s businesses. Only by taking a complete view of the customer’s experience can we increase our value to our customers and at the end of the day that is what it’s all about. This is a journey we are on and one we’re very excited about.

What examples do you have where technology has helped in some ways but complicated your life in others?

Dec 19 | 2013

Embrace your passions this holiday season!

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holidayAt this time of year, it is customary to wish people a “safe, happy and healthy holiday.” Now don’t get me wrong, these are all good wishes to extend, but they are just that —good, standard, and somewhat uninspired. As the CEO of a company whose brand commitment is to provide customers “Experience Excellence” and whose values include both the passion to exceed and the passion to serve, suggesting safe, happy and healthy seems a little too, well, safe.

I recently read an editorial in the Globe and Mail by Peter Aceto, the CEO of ING, about the need for business leaders to show their passions in the workplace. Instead of adopting a robotic detached response to everything , whether positive or negative, you instead need to engage your customers and employee relationships, and inspire them with your passion.

I couldn’t agree more.

So this holiday season my wishes will be for you to embrace your passions and try something a little less safe. Now I’m not suggesting you throw caution to the wind, just merely to take the chance with a little managed risk — we are an insurance company after all!

How about trying something new and challenging like learning to snowboard or taking part in a New Year’s Day Polar Bear Dip, or maybe taking the time to get to know someone different at work? Or why not use the holidays to reach out to that friend, family member or former colleague that you haven’t connected with in a number of years? You could also use this time to launch your much-dreamed-about home-based business, or start your own blog on your favourite topics. The options are endless!

If we all pursue our passions, what a happier world we would create. Therefore, I propose we try out this new holiday greeting: “Let your passion shine this holiday!” I hope that it will be lasting and memorable for you and your family. Oh and safe, happy and healthy, too!

Warm regards,
Michael