PERSON OF THE WEEK: Today’s IP-based contact center systems are helping mortgage servicers gain new efficiencies, hold down operating costs and maintain compliance. The vendors that provide these systems often play an important role in helping servicers get the most out of their systems, whether through consulting, integration services or product support.
One such firm is TeleVoice, which has a special focus on mortgage servicing and collections. To learn more about how mortgage servicing shops have improved their operations over the years – and where there is room for more improvement – MortgageOrb recently interviewed Barry Hays, senior vice president and co-founder of the company.
Q: TeleVoice recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and during three decades you’ve worked with a lot of mortgage servicers. What has been the most significant change you’ve seen in the mortgage industry?
Hays: Over three decades, there have been many changes. When we began working with mortgage companies in the mid-1980s, there were hundreds of small servicers. In the 1990s, we went through a period of consolidation and the number of players shrank dramatically. With the meltdown a few years ago, the whole industry was shaken, and we saw shifts that were driven by regulatory considerations. That has led to some remarkable growth in subservicing, as small institutions found themselves overwhelmed with compliance concerns.
Q: How would you grade servicers’ contact center operations?
Hays: Servicer contact center operations have improved significantly in recent years. These days, servicers are making customer satisfaction a high priority. That increased focus is driven by several factors. Management has accepted the concept that efforts to improve customer satisfaction at the contact center result in an increase in first call resolution and a decrease in average length of call. In that scenario, both the borrower and the servicer win. Some servicers are taking baby steps while others are making great strides in improving their contact center operations. Overall, I think the industry gets a B+.
Q: Is there room for improvement and if so, where?
Hays: Of course, and I think we will continue to see really significant improvement in the coming years. There must be an ongoing effort to make every contact method offered to borrowers as pleasant and efficient as possible. Constant reevaluation of IVR, web and mobile portals as well as agent workstations is necessary to deliver incremental improvements. As is always the case, creative managers tend to be the enthusiastic early adopters of new operational processes and systems. Over time, those innovations spread through the rest of the industry.
Q: There’s been a lot of focus recently on Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). How do you see it affecting servicer operations?
Hays: It is really hard to imagine a more onerous example of bureaucratic overreach than the way the FCC has interpreted TCPA. The limitations placed on servicers in contacting borrowers in default run counter to common sense and other regulatory requirements. TCPA requirements have forced servicers and vendors to scramble to ensure compliance. As we wrap up 2016, most servicers will have implemented systems and processes that will balance servicing requirements with risk considerations. That means carefully documenting borrower informed consent for outbound calls with the necessity of being in constant contact with borrowers in default. I think everyone is looking to 2017 with some hope that common sense will prevail and the rigid limitations of TCPA will be loosened.
Q: What innovations do you see on the horizon for mortgage contact centers?
Hays: Many servicers are introducing innovative techniques for delivering a higher level of service and those innovations quickly spread through the industry. We will see more personalization in the handling of callers through IVR, including the use of sophisticated algorithms to anticipate the reason the borrower is calling and immediately provide the appropriate information or options. Agents will also benefit with better desktop tools for providing more personalized service. The result is going to be a steady increase in efficiency and fewer gaps in customer satisfaction.