If speaking is silver, then listening is gold. – Turkish Proverb
Merriam-Webster defines the verb listen as “to hear something with thoughtful attention.” The art of listening is something NorthMarq Capital’s Servicing Department practices every year in the form of its borrower/lender surveys. The conversations these annual questionnaires create bear many fruits—from reaffirming best practices to areas where services can be optimized. The bottom line: when a client speaks, NorthMarq’s Servicing Department pays attention.
“When we conduct a survey we are asking our customers to not only tell us what we’re doing well, but to tell us if there is anything we can do better,” said Lorraine Gersbach, senior vice president/loan portfolio manager. While it would be easy to highlight only success stories and “excellent” ratings, Gersbach explained the importance of focusing on areas for improvement. “For responses that indicate potential deficiencies, we create an action plan to address any shortcomings. We pass that plan on to department heads who work with their team members to either improve the process or resolve the issue.” She summarized Servicing’s strategy as “If we find we have an area for improvement, we act upon it immediately.”
With the surveys, NorthMarq takes feedback and turns it into strategy. One example involved the department’s new loan Welcome Letters. Based on a suggestion from a borrower, NorthMarq added a contact list to these letters, making reaching the department easier. Another example involved the timeliness of inspections and financial statement analysis. An important lender noted that “since these forms are submitted together, waiting for financials from borrowers slows down the submission of inspections.” Servicing’s Portfolio Management team plotted the following course of action: for borrowers who consistently ignore requests for financials, we complete a pro forma as soon as the inspection is done and send both to the lender.
The department prides itself on how it addresses concerns and seeks improvement, but it is equally as proud of its recognition of excellence. For the numerous employees who are singled out for excellent service, the company recognizes them with an Extra Mile Award.
Jack Besse, a loan portfolio analyst, received an Extra Mile Award after his handling of a complex loan assumption was described as “a great job managing the process and managing expectations.” Jack’s recognized efforts not only pleased the new borrower (purchaser) but also the existing borrower (seller).
Aaron Althoff, also a loan portfolio analyst, was singled out in the borrower survey. “A very special thank you for being one of the best loan servicing contacts I have communicated with in my 30+ years of working in real estate. Please know from an owner’s perspective that working with a dedicated loan servicing contact that is responsive is rare.”
Bert Libke, senior vice president/managing director of Servicing, dated the beginning of NorthMarq’s survey efforts to the time of his predecessor and industry stalwart, Karen Pribnow. “Karen always had a continual drive to improve,” he said. “And taking these surveys and listening to our clients is something that flows naturally out of who we are as a company—very customer driven.”