by Doug Cox, BelWo
The mortgage industry came late to digital transformation, waking to omnichannel customer communications only in the last few years. While the industry has always faced the challenges of managing borrower communications—the stacks of paperwork and the need for bona fide signatures—lenders today are racing to stay on top of the digitization of the customer experience. Forward-leaning lenders are even sending communications via SMS text, collecting e-signatures or scanned signatures via mobile devices.
As a result, the customer communications used by lenders have become increasingly complex. To answer this issue, many mortgage companies have invested in robust customer communication management (CCM) systems to enable lenders to manage borrower touchpoints across print, email, text and web. Some solutions even map the borrower’s journey as they move through an organization, integrating all channels and points of contact and recording interactions and outcomes.
Some of these lenders—certainly the largest ones in the industry—have implemented an effective CCM strategy with staff dedicated to squeezing out all the capabilities of these systems. CCM solutions are not inexpensive or completely self-managing, although they do automate communication processes. Still ensuring a return on investment and taking advantage of all a CCM’s capabilities requires knowledgeable and experienced personnel to effectively operate it. For small to medium-sized lenders, moving beyond the simple basics of CCM is a challenge that is often difficult to overcome without outside help.
Adding to the problem of complexity, different departments within lending organizations have over the years deployed their own CCM point solutions. Multiple frameworks often reside within a single organization and are typically not integrated. Sharing content and data becomes a lengthy, if not impossible, IT project. The fragmented situation reduces the effectiveness, alignment and speed of borrower communications. Consolidation in the lending industry can make this situation worse as organizations acquire others and merge operations.
To overcome the challenges of complexity and multiple, unintegrated frameworks, many lenders are bringing on a managed service provider (MSP) specializing in CCM.
The advantages of an MSP for CCM
Many lending organizations of all sizes employ a variety of MSPs to handle a plethora of systems. MSPs manage functions like mortgage lending platforms, valuation hubs, foreclosure processing, and more. An MSP specializing in CCM will work with a mortgage lender on a contractual term, based on agreements that can be flexible enough to provide the service you need. An MSP typically charges for services on an as-needed basis, helping to reduce costs compared to hiring and training staff with a comparable level of knowledge and experience.
An MSP will deploy, develop, maintain and operate a CCM system to optimize its usage and help a lender reap the benefits, including improved borrower satisfaction and loyalty, improved cross-selling opportunities, and a more level playing field with the giants in the industry. Lenders typically will have existing CCM software, and the MSP will assist in developing the solution, working with the different departments in the company to integrate borrower content and data, and maintain the system per service level agreements. An MSP can onboard new borrowers, brokers or other business partners, help fulfill compliance requirements as well as internal approvals, and handle any new upgrades or changes to the CCM platform.
While lenders have existing IT departments, the staff may not have a strong background in CCM, and operating or developing a CCM system is not their primary responsibility. An IT department will likely not fully understand how to effectively manage CCM, and it almost certainly will not have the time to learn these additional skills. An MSP that specializes in CCM offers the organization specific expertise, bringing CCM skills and experience to your organization. It can introduce new and emerging capabilities, and do that quickly, enabling a lender to innovate and compete in the marketplace. IT, meanwhile, gains more time to focus on their core duties.
The right MSP for you
When considering an MSP for your customer communications, it is important to find one with experience in the mortgage and financial services industry. Such an MSP will have a better understanding of the types of communications that must be sent out to borrowers.
Be aware, too, that “managed services” are different from “hosted services.” An MSP will work on the CCM system installed in the lender’s own office and behind your firewall and other security arrangements. No borrower information, such as credit data, payment history, and so on will need to be moved from the lender’s servers. Any communication templates and related data also remain on premise. On the other hand, a hosted service operates on software located usually either in a digital cloud or within the software developer’s proprietary facilities. Hosted services can be managed by the host or operated remotely by your IT staff. In either case, the customer files and other data is securely moved and stored outside of your organization, though you will have access to it.
Through improved, personalized communications, lenders can develop a more positive and cooperative customer relationship by making it easy for borrowers to do business with them, being attentive to their needs and concerned about their issues. A lender’s CCM system may have much more functionality than it’s currently using, and the learning curve on these types of applications is high. Employing an MSP with a background in the mortgage lending field can deliver the full return on your CCM investment by helping to fully deploy communication capabilities to bring in new borrowers as well as to maintain positive and cooperative relationships with those a lender already serves. A well-managed CCM system offers advantages at the beginning, middle and end of your business relationships.
Doug Cox is Vice President at BelWo, a global managed services provider specializing in customer communications management (CCM). For information about BelWo, visit www.belwo.com.