Fannie Mae opened training to call center employees at mortgage servicing shops around the country.
A total of 18 servicers adopted the Know Your Options Customer Care program over the last year, including the five largest firms Bank of America (BAC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC), Citigroup (C) and Ally Financial.
Fannie will provide scripting for receiving calls from homeowners and help installing other quality controls. Servicers with at least 1,000 delinquent Fannie loans will be asked to join the program, which will be free of charge.
The $25 billion foreclosure settlement, consent orders signed with federal regulators, guidance under the Home Affordable Modification Program and various state laws – including a new one in California – require servicers to provide a single point of contact to borrowers wanting to work with the bank to avoid foreclosure.
Fannie said creating this contact at the call centers is a key element of the program. The training session lasts nearly three hours. According to Fannie, servicers who took the training see up to a 30% increase in workouts.
"We don't just train the servicers' call center employees and then say, Good-bye," said John Kennedy, who runs the program at Fannie Mae. "We work with servicers and listen to calls to be sure the approach is effectively implemented."
Kennedy's team scores the call with the servicer and holds meetings with front line supervisors and the single points of contact as well. He said for the most part, these employees are focused on getting documentation in for modifications and other options.
Since the foreclosure crisis struck, document issues rose at the largest banks. Paperwork and borrowers became lost in a backlogged system still under reform.
"They have done a much better job building a consultative relationship with the customer," Kennedy said. "After every call, we ask ourselves, are we 100% sure the customer really understood all of their options? Foreclosure is our competition, and we want to prevent as many as we can."