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Customer Service vs. Customer Success: Why Your Company Needs Both

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By Amy Tankersley

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The terms “customer service” and “customer support” have become ubiquitous in the B2B realm, and both are critical to the success of any company or organization. But does your title insurance partner invest in your success by providing you with both?

Leveraging its powerful data analytics capabilities, States Title adds a bespoke customer service and success solution to guarantee our lender customers – and ultimately, the borrowers who are their customers – have a fast, friction-free closing experience. This ensures high customer satisfaction (CSAT) rates for every file we process.

“Technology and data analytics are tools that we use to ensure our customers are meeting their goals,” said Nate Jones, States Title’s senior manager of customer success. “These tools ensure that we are aligned with the lender’s objectives and give them an exceptional customer and borrower experience. By taking this approach, we strengthen our relationships with lenders, rather than focus only on building relationships with them. Ultimately, this creates the best borrower experience possible.”

What do customers want?

As States Title continues to evolve, we continue to focus on providing customers with an efficient, hassle-free experience. To that end, earlier this year, we surveyed 400 mortgage executives and loan officers and processors about what they value in a title and escrow partner. Although nearly half of respondents listed accurate title searches and low rates as their top priorities, several other service-related functions ranked high on their wish lists, including:

  • Knowledge and expertise of the partner
  • Timely response
  • Simple ordering process
  • Faster-than-average time to close

More than a third of survey respondents also identified a strong personal relationship with their title partner as a determining factor in their choice of title provider. Reasons to leave a title partner were also rooted in service and quality concerns, with 17 percent of respondents voicing their frustration when their teams were burdened with having too much hands-on involvement in the transaction.

Instead, respondents said they are seeking a thought leader in the title and escrow space that instills confidence in all aspects of the relationship. Customers also said superb service is critical to their partnerships with title companies.

“We have done deep evaluations of what borrowers and lenders want and expect,” Nate said. “Lenders rarely care who their title company is or interact with them – yet, if we do a bad job, that reflects more on the lender than us to the borrower. If we have a good relationship with the lender, they look good to their customer. If a customer leaves a lender, they can no longer send business to us because they are losing customers. This influenced how we chose to approach our customer service and success models.”

White-glove service

States Title’s customer service model begins with a thorough customer onboarding process that collects information on the lender’s preferences for communication and service, which is then used to define clear service level agreements (SLAs). Next, a nimble concierge team manages each file from beginning to end, serving as a knowledgeable single point of contact and coordinating with the production team to resolve complex title questions. Each stage of the file is tracked against the lender’s predefined SLAs to ensure we are meeting their expectations. Once a closing is complete, the operations excellence team conducts a thorough audit of each file to identify areas of improvement.

“Our operations service model is not just an assembly line of people, and files flow through them,” Nate said. “We have a dedicated team of people who know the lender’s preferences and anticipate and answer questions even before they ask them. They ensure that the whole process is smooth from start to finish, and in line with what borrowers expect.”

In particular, States Title’s instant underwriting solution, which can deliver a title commitment in under a minute for 80 percent of residential refinance transactions, addresses borrowers’ growing demands for an easy closing experience, Nate said.

“Real estate transactions are one of the few things borrowers have to deal with that isn’t quick,” he pointed out. “Customers see speed everywhere in front of them, and that is what they expect. You can walk onto a car lot and buy a car in 20 minutes. Most borrowers feel that if they want to refinance their mortgage, it shouldn’t take that long.”

Service vs. success

Customer service is obviously essential to customer satisfaction. However, while the concierge and production teams roll up their sleeves and dig into the details of each file, the customer success team takes a holistic view at the entire customer life cycle, said Jasper Bear, States Title’s director of customer success.

“Customer success is a relatively new field, and one that grew up alongside the advent of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model,” he said. “Customer success takes that model to a different level, where you are constantly working to prove to the customer that the software is valuable. While customer service is reactive to problems and concerns as they arise, customer success is more proactive. We imagine a specific life cycle for each transaction for our customers, and try to guide them through it in a proactive way.”

This life cycle begins with the onboarding process, during which “we discover what service they see as valuable, and help deliver that,” Jasper said.

“Then we support them through an adoption phase, which typically lasts a few months,” he said. “In essence, we get their plane to a cruising altitude, and then ensure that the flight continues to run smoothly.”

If the operations team encounters a complex problem requiring special expertise, the customer success team assists with resolution. Once a customer completes its first 50 files, the customer success team analyzes metrics on service level agreements, error rates, closing times, and other key data points, and transparently shares their findings with the lender.

“We look at both positive and negative data, and share that with the customer,” Jasper said. “We want to know what is going well, and where we can make improvements. The data we compile and analyze informs us how we are doing, and we present it to our customers in a way that they have never seen before. One client, Sierra Pacific, told us that no other title company has done this with them.”

Paving the way for future success

Looking ahead to the future, Jasper said that as States Title expands its customer base and geographic footprint, “we look forward to meeting the needs and demands of our growing customer base.”

“We are very focused on creating conditions that allow for expansion,” Jasper said. “We’re growing along with our customers as they grow. In general, customer success as a function continually looks at its own processes and tweaks them to improve them, so our other goal is to keep getting better at what we do.”