Servicers Turn to DIY Tech to Improve the Customer Experience
November 19, 2015
From single-point-of-contact requirements to the need for better and more user-friendly self-service options, servicers surveyed by National Mortgage News are taking a much-needed hard look at the full range of customer touch-points that they operate.
NMN, in partnership with SourceMedia Research, deployed a survey in September 2015 to a sample drawn from across the mortgage industry. The pool of more than 300 respondents includes C-suite and other senior-level professionals at mortgage origination and servicing firms of all sizes.
Much like their counterparts on the origination side of the mortgage industry, servicers enter 2016 with a relatively upbeat outlook on some basic strategic questions. For example, like originators, most servicers expect their firms to increase staff next year, while one in six expect staff to decrease. Top objectives for the coming year also mirror the originators’ — regulatory and compliance requirements and process improvements were virtually tied as the objectives most frequently cited among servicers’ top priorities.
While servicers’ main concerns heading into 2016 mirror those of lenders, there are critical points of divergence between the two sectors. For one thing, servicers face distinct regulatory requirements, and the risks associated with those requirements do not align precisely with those faced by lenders.
Perhaps more tellingly, servicers diverge from the origination side on some key questions related to infrastructure. In particular, the sector self-identifies as one with very specific pain points when it comes to data and technology, a technology gap with wide customer-service and compliance implications.
The Service Spectrum
Mandates, both regulatory and operational, are driving extensive change in terms of customer service activity across the servicing business. Survey responses show that improving customer service is high on servicers’ to-do list for 2016 — 66% of servicers cited it as a high priority for 2016, and about half said purchasing new technology was a top strategy for this initiative.
The role of technology in improving customer service suggests servicers recognize the need to offer more and better tools for borrowers to manage their loans. These views also reveal increasing demand for products and services that effectively integrate with existing systems.
One area where the industry has made fairly substantial advances is in making certain self-service functions readily available to borrowers. These tend to be specifically in the area of payments: Two-thirds of servicer respondents said their firms offer technology for borrowers to make one-time mortgage payments online, and 74% let customers schedule automatically recurring mortgage payments online.
However, use of technology that enables borrowers to engage in more complex customer interactions is lagging. For example, adoption of Web-based and self-service tools that can assist distressed borrowers with loss mitigation processes significantly trails that of online payments.
Only 25% of servicers said they provide distressed borrowers with tools to fill out, process and check the status of loss mitigation applications, while just 13.2% of servicers use online chat technology on their websites. The most widely used self-service technology not directly involving payments was interactive voice response, and even here less than half of servicers providing an IVR option to borrowers.
Given the relatively recent implementation of SPOC requirements, monitoring and managing this element of the servicing business would seem one particularly well suited for a technology solution. And in fact most do — nearly seven in 10 companies use CRM technology to help in their group SPOC efforts. (Most servicers said their firms employ either a group SPOC, also known as “continuity of contact,” approach, or a combination of group SPOC and one-on-one activities.)
Other technologies, including IVR, online chat and mobile phone text messaging, are far less prevalent among servicers’ SPOC operations. Some 20% of servicers said their firms use no technology to manage SPOC requirements.
Source: National Mortgage News