Three Lessons I Learned while Upgrading My OS System

Three Lessons I Learned while Upgrading My OS System

This month, a cautionary tale about how important constant presence is in business, how important it is to continually improve (and be cautious about how you do it), and how thin the margin between getting a deal and losing it.

A few weeks ago, those of us who are iProduct users (I’m an iPad guy) upgraded our operating systems to the newest version, version 6.  Along with this, the associated app makers had to make certain tweaks to their programs so they would still run correctly.  Many of them released immediate updates.  Some of them didn’t.  One of my favorite programs is a Twitter client.  The day of the update, it stopped working.  It would load, but then crash.  I downloaded three new clients that day, and tried them all.  One of them did what I wanted it to do and did not crash, and I’m using that client now.

That’s the bald tale.  There are three lessons here.

First Lesson: The update of the operating system.  Business is interconnected in the modern world in ways that are unpredictable and potentially dangerous.  We, as service providers, need to be aware of the effects changing our business will have on other related businesses.  Brokers and bankers alike have to think carefully about the changes they make to their processes and systems, because those changes can have potentially catastrophic repercussions to those in the field.

With this operating system change, I have to say, I don’t notice that there’s any difference in the performance of my device. Nothing materially has changed.  But there are huge differences in the performance of dependent systems, like my apps, that make them in some cases cease to work at all.  Beware of changing things just to change them.  Sometimes – more often than we think – changing things just makes them different, not better.  And it is easily possible to make them worse.

This is a tale that the government, and most especially the overlords at the CFPB, need to hear.  We’re in the middle of our third or fourth redesign of the Good Faith Estimate in the last five years.  None of the previous changes have made things easier or better for mortgage consumers.  The last revision is, in my opinion, nothing less than a dereliction of duty on the part of the regulators.  It is a complete, unmitigated, untrammeled disaster.  It has made it significantly more difficult for good loan officers to do their jobs.  The changing of the documents, ostensibly to protect consumers, has done nothing of the kind.  The regulators, for whatever reason, have made an Apple change, tinkering with something just because, and not paying close enough attention to what the consequences of the change might be.

Second Lesson: The reaction to the update.  The update of the operating system wasn’t a secret.  It had been coming for months.  Developers knew it was imminent, and they had time to make the necessary alterations to their programs and apps to make sure they would work properly.  We, as loan officers, sometimes do not know the parameters of the changes that are coming, but often we do, and it behooves us as professionals to make sure that we have done the research to understand what the changes are going to mean, and redesign our systems to allow us to keep doing what we do best.

An example of this is what I mentioned above.  The Good Faith document is going to be revised.  The revision is not a secret.  We cannot – we must not – depend on others to understand the ramifications of that and other changes.  We must do our own homework, and understand what the coming changes will mean.  We can do this.  We’ve done it before.  The best will always be ready when the changes come, and will already have remade their business processes so that there will be minimal disruption of business when the changes come.

Third Lesson: As has been well documented in these pages, I am a big fan of Twitter.  I use it for all sorts of things, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that along with my LOS and email, Twitter is one of the indispensables in my business life.  When my Twitter client went down on my iPad, it took me exactly fifteen seconds to decide I was going to have to try something else.  It took another ten to fifteen for me to download three other alternatives, and start using them.

Now, most of those alternatives weren’t all that good.  I had chosen the one I was using because it was better, and did what I wanted it to do.  The others weren’t likely to be as good, and most of them weren’t.  But one of them was.  In fact, one of them was better.  My old client reacted very fast, releasing two updates in a single day to get their program functional again.  They did a super job.  But by the time they did it, I was already gone.

There are all sorts of lessons here, but I’d like to focus on one: we have an incredibly short window to get and keep the business of our clients. Those clients might be borrowers if we are loan officers, or Realtor partners (ditto), or they might be loan officers themselves if we are brokers.  They don’t have unlimited patience.  There are thousands of alternatives available to them, and if we misstep, even for as little as a day, we risk never getting our clients back.

Our best defense against this, because none of us is perfect, is to establish as close a relationship with our clients as possible.  I’m just a user; there’s no reason for the company to pay attention to me when their program stops working.  But if they had, I might still be using their product.  When something goes sideways, our clients’ relationships with us are a critical fallback to buy us time to get things right.

Changes are coming.  We all know it.  Perhaps some of those changes will be for the better.  Some of them undoubtedly will be for the worse.  But come they will, and as professionals we have a duty to be ready for them and to do what it takes to protect our clients and our businesses.  We may not get a second chance.

Chris Jones

Chris Jones is a branch manager with City First Mortgage Services and a ten-year veteran spanning the best and the worst of times in the industry. He is the author of the books Mastering the Six Channels of Marketing, and Talking So People Can Hear, primers on how to use modern communications tools to do business more naturally and efficiently (available at www.iamchrisjones.com). Chris arrived in mortgages after careers with tech startups, stockbrokering, and running a presidential campaign. He’s a sought-after speaker and a part-time opera singer, which he insists isn’t as impressive as it sounds. Chris and his wife Jeanette live in Lehi, UT with their eight children. He can be reached at 801-850-3781 or at [email protected].

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