Innovative brokers are discovering that when it comes to maintaining customer relationships, the highest levels of customer service and efficiency come from being digitally connected, writes Steve Kane, general manager – broker distribution, NAB.
Social distancing measures and enforced lockdowns intended to “flatten the curve” have also empowered brokers to find new ways of staying connected with their customers.
Broker-customer relationships have no doubt been strengthened by the current crisis, as Australians look to brokers to help them navigate various headwinds and tailwinds – we know brokers are rising to the occasion, as they always do.
According to a recent NAB report*, the economic outlook has now surpassed the direct health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic as the biggest concern for Australians.
Alongside customers, we recognise the past few months have been challenging for brokers. This is echoed by our recent NAB Broker Wellbeing Survey** which found three-quarters of brokers have been impacted by COVID-19, with the highest impact being increased stress and anxiety, followed by financial concerns.
NAB continues to support brokers as the trusted adviser to their customers. Our national team of dedicated BDMs are in constant contact and are available to support our broker partners and their customers, at every step. Another avenue of support is NAB MyCoach, a confidential counselling and coaching service exclusively for brokers. Lastly, NAB is working hard to digitise the home lending process, enabling a smoother and more efficient customer experience.
Widespread digital adoption
On that note, one of the most significant, and perhaps more positive, side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the rapid adoption of digital tools among consumers and businesses.
Working from home has become the new “business as usual”. This has changed the way we communicate and is rapidly reshaping the way we do business. For instance, videoconferencing and digital meetings now play a vital role in our day-to-day lives.
Certainly, over the past few months, we have been adapting and implementing these technologies to stay connected with our broker partners across the country.
Brokers are also increasingly integrating digital tools within their business processes, including electronic interviews, e-signatures and digital documentation to drive more efficient customer service and enable remote working.
At the same time, customer behaviors and confidence in using digital tools to search, purchase and apply for services are on the rise. A recent NAB report* shows that few Australians want life to return exactly how it was before COVID-19, with 21 per cent stating they no longer want face-to-face meetings.
Driving efficiencies in broker businesses
Another standout finding from the NAB Broker Wellbeing Survey** is that, as a consequence of COVID-19, broker businesses have been experiencing fewer customer enquiries and deals have been falling over.
These challenges come in addition to ongoing broker concerns, which have only been exacerbated by the current environment – these include a rapidly changing lending policy environment, extended servicing times and the need for more support and communication during this time.
At NAB, we take our responsibility to brokers and their customers very seriously, and we fully take onboard these concerns. Delivering a more efficient and streamlined lending journey and improving how we work in partnership with our brokers continue to be top priorities for us moving forward.
Brokers can now digitally capture and verify customer ID, use digital document upload and digitally sign upfront loan documents. In fact, we’ve recently accelerated the launch of NAB’s eSign for mortgage documents for brokers in Victoria, followed by NSW***.
We continue to invest in digitising our processes, and the introduction of digital end-to-end mortgages was always the next natural evolution in our strategy – ultimately driving digital end-to-end mortgages, eliminating lengthy postal waiting times and delivering a simpler, faster customer experience.
We also recognise that no two customers’ circumstances are the same. Working alongside our brokers, every customer is assessed on a case-by-case basis so we can find the right lending solution for them.
Timely communication will also further define our working partnership with brokers. We continue to keep brokers up to date with weekly e-newsletters and BDM updates on changes to our product, policy and processes.
Digitally powered relationships
While technology will never replace the essential, face-to-face role brokers play, it will drive efficiency and help brokers continue to provide a better customer experience through faster service.
Every crisis brings new opportunities to seize and challenges to overcome. I believe our industry will adapt as we have done time and time again. Certainly, the heart of the broker proposition will endure as brokers continue to be close to customers, taking time to understand their unique circumstances and working together to provide the right solution for them
*Written by NAB Behavioural and Industry Economics, the NAB Special Coronavirus Report is based on a survey of over 2,000 Australians conducted in May 2020.
**A survey of 100 brokers was conducted by research firm Nature on behalf of NAB Broker in May 2020.
***From Monday, 29 June, all Victorian brokers with eligible customer applications can use eSign to execute their mortgage documents. This capability is also available to NSW brokers from Monday, 6 July.
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Steve is responsible for overall financial and operational performance of NAB’s third-party distribution through mortgage aggregators and the wider mortgage broking market in Australia. Prior to his current role, Steve was general manager of broker platforms, where he oversaw the bank’s distribution performance through aggregators PLAN, FAST and Choice, and was also CEO of FAST from 2006 to 2012. Steve has over 30 years’ experience in the banking and financial services industry, and was previously president of the Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia (MFAA).
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