Speaking on the subject of "Engaging Borrowers on Their Terms" at the Servicing Lab as part of the Five Star Conference on Tuesday, Green Tree Servicing's SVP of business control and client management, Mark Atencio, pointed out the many similarities between a mortgage and a marriage.
Like a marriage, the mortgage process all starts with the courtship between the borrower and the servicer. And just like a marriage, once the vows are exchanged, both parties need to step up their efforts in order for the mortgage to be successful from beginning to end and for the borrower to have a successful "customer experience."
"Complacency is the main thing we have to watch out for in mortgages, which is the same thing we have to watch out for in marriages," Atencio said. "It happens in either case when the effort or purpose has been lost in one or both of the partners. When you say I do, the effort needs to increase."
The increased effort is necessary on the part of both partners for the mortgage to be a successful one because the process is lengthy, intricate, and complicated.
"Anything that can go wrong while buying a home usually does," Atencio said.
Atencio spoke on the importance of the success of a SPOC (single point of contact) for the borrower in order for the mortgage to be successful, and for the SPOC to have certain key roles and responsibilities. The SPOC needs to get to know the buyer well, including finding out what his or her financial situation is.
Communication between the servicer and the borrower is key throughout the process, he said. But it has to be effective communication – nothing will substitute for direct one-on-one communication. This is critical, Atencio said, because the entire "customer service" experience is being moved to call centers, which takes away the entire "borrower-servicer" relationship and puts the success of the whole experience in jeopardy.
When that SPOC is not established or is not effective, and that line of communication is not opened up or that relationship is not established between the servicer and the borrower, the same thing could happen with a bad mortgage experience that happens with bad marriages – divorce. And just like in a marriage, when divorce happens in a mortgage between a borrower and a servicer, it has the potential to get messy.
But the servicer knowing the borrower is not enough, Atencio said – the borrower needs to get to know the servicer. The servicer needs to keep the borrower informed of important events – for example, if the loan is transferred, the process is often confusing to borrowers and the servicer needs to review that process with the borrower and make sure he or she understands it. The borrower should know exactly what to expect and what is expected of him or her after a loan transfer.
Even after the financing is secured and the home is bought, "Buyer remorse may set in and may even last for years," Atencio said.
Servicers should contribute to providing the borrowers with the optimal mortgage experience through effective communication, but that does not necessarily mean giving into the borrower's demands, Atencio said.
"Engaging the borrowers on their terms does not always mean they get what they want," Atencio said. But the servicers should engage the borrowers. Borrowers should feel affirmed, listened to, and understood."