Welcome to CustomerCorner, a short Q&A format blog designed to share gifting and customer loyalty best practices across industries and brands.
The team at Sozo Gifts had the pleasure of speaking with Lisa Pearce, Sr. Loan Officer (NMLS: 583007) at Guild Mortgage, one of the industry leaders in home mortgage banking. Lisa offered her wisdom around client engagement and relationship building best practices, and hopes it helps you as you grow and strengthen your client base in your own industry and vocation.
Q: How long have you been with Guild Mortgage?
A: I’ve been with Guild since 2012, but got my start in mortgage banking in 2003. Throughout that time, I’ve seen a lot of change!
Q: What led you into this business?
A: Before this I had worked at Nordstrom for 15 years in risk management, helping them price and manage their self-provided insurance that is required for all of their retail operations. The work was great, but after 15 years I was ready for a change. I was ready to make more of an impact on peoples’ lives with my work. Mortgage banking was a complementary field that leveraged my skills, and it was exactly the refreshing change I was searching for.
Q: Explain what makes your work so refreshing and rewarding.
A: With my clients, I’m a partner in their financial planning process that often affects the trajectory of their entire financial and personal life! I help them save, pay down debt, and buy a new property. With my work at Guild, I’m able to make their money go further and help my clients reach their dreams of going back to school, putting their kids through school, retiring, buying a second home, taking care of other family members… the list goes on and I love it.
I’m helping people become economically literate and financially self-reliant. There are so many financial variables to consider when purchasing or refinancing a home. I’m able to work with my clients to find the best fit and make their money more efficient.
Q: What’s the most challenging thing about your job?
A: It’s always sad when people don’t work with me because “it’s a rate thing”. I take my position as a loan officer seriously. I advise my clients as partners in a big decision, and have the backing of one of the leading and most reputable mortgage banks in the country. I provide Nordstrom-level service, and our highly-competitive rates reflect that value. Because of that, when they say “no” it feels like they’re saying “no” to my advisory role as a partner in their process, which is something that I take personally.
Q: How important are customer referrals?
A: Vitally important. Most of my business comes from word of mouth.
Q: Where are your referrals coming from, and how do you grow them?
A: I get good, quality leads from realtors, however, I have found these three service-based tactics to be integral as I grow customer leads and customer referrals:
Host “Home Buyer Classes”. These allow me to serve people with education and top-level advice long before they’re my client. It’s the perfect foundation for a relationship, even if they aren’t ready to purchase a home during that particular season of their life.
Provide end-to-end service to my clients. This summarizes my approach to providing the Nordstrom level of service that I explained earlier. I am consultative, respectful, and appreciative. From the first conversation, to a gift they receive after the house closes, to follow up conversations we will have every year during the life of the loan to make sure my clients are in the best loan situation as the market and their finances evolve. It all works together to create an environment of partnership that my clients want to be around--and tell their friends about.
Maintain consistent touchpoints. Little things add up and do much to help build long-term relationships. I send a birthday video to my clients — just a video of me in my office wishing them the best — as a little reminder that I’m thinking of them and am thankful for them. On their loan anniversary I’ll send them a message congratulating them on another milestone year in their home. People that signed up for my Home Buyer Classes receive updates as the market changes in a way that could affect their decision to purchase a home.
Q: You mentioned gifts—in what way are gifts essential for loyalty and referrals?
A: It’s a concrete way to add value and continue the relationship. Loans are ethereal, phone calls disappear from memory, and the house my clients live in every day is what’s often top of mind, not who financed it. The quality gifts I give embody the top level of service that I provide, tying the whole experience together into something extraordinary. I’m at a huge advantage if I can stay top of mind, so I like to pick gifts that can keep me top of mind like the Engraved Cutting Board & Treats from Sozo that my clients will enjoy daily.
Ultimately, I’m grateful for my clients and the fact that they chose me amid a sea of different mortgage companies and loan officers. Showing thankfulness through these gifts grows trust, gets me through the day, and opens up the door for me to grow relationships.
Q: At what point do you give gifts to your clients?
A: I send them out about 2 weeks after the close date. The initial close is hectic, so this gives the new home owners time to get their mind clear from that process, while allowing me to stay top of mind as they move in. As a bonus, since Sozo sends the gift directly to my client, it keeps my gift from getting confused with a gift that the real estate agent gives them at the time of the close.
Q: What do you like most about Sozo Gifts?
A: I love that the gifts are connected with charitable dollars. It’s a great attribute that makes it different and memorable from anything else my clients receive. It’s nice to have a gift that’s aligned with my values, because then it becomes a more authentic expression of my gratitude and embodiment of my service.