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Improving the homeowner call experience with new systems, technology and training

  • 5 min read
Think of a mortgage as a package sitting atop an individual conveyor belt. Ideally, its journey begins on the settlement date, and the package continues seamlessly and effortlessly for 20 or 30 years until the loan is paid off.

Some interruptions to the conveyor belt are expected — changes in tax rates or insurance charges, for example. Others are not nearly as simple.

Some loans may fall off the conveyor belt for a variety of reasons — non-payment, problems with escrow, duplicate charges, refinancing, etc. All of these are a part of the lifecycle of a loan.

When a merchant sends us the wrong size shoes, it is a customer service problem. When something goes wrong with our mortgage, our primary asset, it is an entirely different kind of challenge, and often one requiring fairly complex solutions.

Often, those solutions must come from us. Cenlar wants to keep loans on the conveyor belt. We would like to think that no one is better at it. We live now in a world where sophisticated websites, bots and other Internet tools have significantly improved the customer experience at Cenlar.

Yet, we are often still measured by what happens when a customer calls us on a telephone. Our call center employees are responsible for answering the telephone and managing customer expectations.

Callers are not the idly curious or the mildly concerned. Frequently, they are confused, frightened or angry. They want someone who will listen but also someone empowered to solve the problem.

Reputations are at stake on every call, for Cenlar and the lender. The solution has never been, and is certainly not now, the addition of new employees alone. What we have begun at Cenlar is the routing of calls to virtual groups that are both more agile and more specialized.

We’ve instituted systems that provide a more proactive engagement. We’ve built in training that allows us to better understand customer intent more quickly. We’ve taught our groups about all the digital assets at their disposal.

For our call center leadership, we have worked on growing the kind of leaders that are better able to build responsive, skilled teams.

We have grown much better at both setting expectations and measuring for accuracy and results.

We have installed PC-based learning across call center teams. We have paid significant attention to planning and more flexible call center scheduling.

While we have invested in better training for our people, we’ve also invested in efforts to keep them. We know that our work grows more challenging every year and that the call center tasks of the future demand teams that are highly skilled and suitably rewarded.

We have established a Special Services Program with a skilled cross-functional team of asset analysts specifically tasked with measuring risk and proactively working with respective business units to drive resolution.

For both the borrower and lender, we’ve added layers of scrutiny designed to get problem loans back on the proverbial conveyor belt as seamlessly as possible.

Mortgage loans and collective mortgage portfolios require added levels of ongoing surveillance, strategic remediation as loans are about to become more at risk and a far greater attention to technologies that can interpret the simple phone call.

We are using speech analytics technologies to support Cenlar call center operations. Properly adapted, speech analytics programs will enable us to gather actionable insights from every homeowner/agent interaction. With the ability to detect phrases, speech patterns or emotion in a caller’s voice, this form of artificial intelligence allows us to quickly and accurately direct calls to specialized units.

Through artificial intelligence, and every other change we make, our intent is to measure and measure again until we establish a set of best practices that builds Cenlar’s servicing reputation today and on into an even more challenging future.

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