The servicing industry has historically been about call centers and collections. Companies staff up or staff down depending on the market condition and overlook the most important factor in all of the changes — the people.
It’s time we change the conversation and recognize that people matter. Talented, happy team members create happy customers. And, when this focus is partnered with the right technology, the industry will finally be able to see some real change.
Reflecting on this week’s Mortgage Bankers Association’s Mortgage Servicing Conference in Dallas and the panel I spoke on, “Staffing Your Servicing Shop to Optimize Efficiencies,” we’re really at an inflection point.
Team members act as the front line of a company. The tide has shifted, and servicing companies should no longer be the bad guy in the mortgage process. They should be champions of home ownership. But, company culture has to drive this mindset and team members need to feel they are empowered to celebrate borrower successes, such as on time payments and providing real help when borrower payments go off track. Technology plays a key role in this since servicing innovation was previously nonexistent.
During the panel session, Marina Walsh, vice president of industry analysis with the MBA and panel moderator, asked the panel how their companies handle their biggest staffing challenges.
The solution to the challenges came down to two main parts: talent and technology.
The foundation of a company and its culture is grounded in its people and the investments it makes in them. From ping pong tables in the office to work from home options, try to think of ways to instill team member happiness. When combined with a strong set of core values, it will drive the type of behaviors that lead to happy customers.
Training is also a key ingredient in ensuring team members are happy and feel invested in for the long haul. When investing in training resources, companies should adopt a structured approach to how they enable cross-departmental job transitions. For example, call centers provide a great training ground for many associates since it exposes them to a broad spectrum of servicing matters. Requiring team members to spend a required amount of time in their role allows companies to mitigate early internal turnover while providing opportunities for growth. And, it allows for flexibility when staffing needs at the company need to increase or decrease.
Once the culture is set, team members need the right tools to do their job. From celebrating borrower successes when they do make payments on time to knowing in real-time when they need help, technology needs to be aiding in this process. For example, after the natural disasters this past year, it was important for servicers to be able to get a real-time status update on their borrowers to see if they were at risk of missing a payment. The right technology can help a servicer know a borrower’s contact and payment history, along with the overall health of their servicing portfolio.
While this industry has long been on the back burner, servicing technology and people are the forefront of each conversation. This conference made it very clear that people are starting to take notice and focus on what this industry needs. And similar to how automation and innovation became major buzzwords in mortgage originations, it’s happening in servicing now too. It needed to happen.