Sunday, October 11, 2009

Customer Focused, Part 2

Last week I discussed how having an eye for the needs and desires of the customer can translate into real, tangible benefits for your company. Since then two other incidents have occurred that I feel a desire, almost an obligation, to share with you.

We've been looking to relocate to NJ to be nearer to my wife's family. With the real estate market there is in a real slump - that's relative to the rest of the country, where things are bad as well - there are some great deals to be had. We stumbled across one of those deals when my wife chanced across a bank-owned, previously attempted to be auctioned off but failed property that is listing at 50% of what it was sold for in 2003. We looked at the property on Friday night; saw the apartment to be in rather good shape (not perfect, but who's going to argue about minor stuff with a Viking Professional stove and Subzero refrigerator in the kitchen?); and as we contemplated our next step found out that the bank was going to make a decision on what bid to accept on Monday morning at 10am.

Panic panic panic. What to do? We had to find out all sorts of information about the property to determine a reasonable bid. (We did not, at that time, know about the 50% discounted price.) The realtor representing the bank said a formal offer letter would be needed as well as a pre-qualification letter from a lending institution or a mortgage broker.

The Wrong Way
I had been pre-qualified by a "one stop realty shop" early this year so, after tracking down the number of the person with whom I spoke at that time, I gave him a call. It was just after 1pm on Sunday afternoon, and he remarked that he was leaving the office to go home and watch the Giants game. But he assured me that he would be able to speak at 7pm that evening and gave me his cell number so that I could call him.

7pm came, and I made myself ready to speak with him, i.e. I went into my "home office" (read: kitchen), prepared myself with whatever information he would require to look up my credit score, etc. Then I called but got no answer.

"Ok," I thought. "Maybe he's at the office and is on another line." So after leaving a message on his cell phone, I called the office but received no answer there either.

After spending the next 2 1/2 hours "blowing up" both of his phones (as my wife calls it), I gave up.

The Right Way
I had assumed that, since I had been pre-qualified by this person already that it would be easier to get the statement refreshed. I had assumed that it would be impossible to get such a letter from another institution on such short notice. But now I was in a bind, so I tracked down another mortgage broker that I know online; asked to call him; then told him of the situation and asked for advice.

What was David Archibald's (of ICC Mortgage Services) response? "Call me at 8:30 tomorrow morning and, based on what you're telling me now, we should have the pre-qualification letter for you in 15 minutes." True to his word, I did and we were able to submit a bid for the property 30 minutes before the deadline.

The Result
The bank ultimately rejected everyone's offer (but that's a story for another day). Yet in spite of the fact that I will not at this time require financing, I'll leave the guessing to you as to which of the above two companies will get my business when I am ready.

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