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HousingWire sat down with TMS Subservicing President Rick Smith to discuss the company’s Servicing Intelligence Made Easy (SIME) technology and how TMS prioritizes customer service.
HousingWire: What made TMS choose to make customer service a priority of your subservicing business?
Rick Smith: We firmly believe that whether you’re subservicing or whether you’re servicing in-house, it is all about the customers. When people look to use a subservicer, their No. 1 priority is obviously transparency, but it’s about their customers.
From day one when we started the platform, our priority was, how are we going to treat the customers from front end to the back end?
HW: How does using TMS’ Tech100 award-winning Servicing Intelligence Made Easy (SIME) technology help clients grow their business?
RS: The key behind SIME for our clients is giving them 100% transparency so they really get to understand and know their customers as well.
One of the big concerns lenders have when they go to outsource a portfolio or use a subservicer versus in-house is that you lose touch with your customer base. How are the calls being handled? What are the customers saying? What’s your abandonment rate? There are just so many key points that you look at in working with your customers that you sometimes can lose without that transparency.
SIME gives us the ability to give our client base that full transparency into their portfolio, so they can go in and look at payment histories and payment habits. They can see how many of their customers are accessing the portal, how they’re paying, and even listen to the customer calls.
SIME allows our subservicing clients to interact with their customers in a real-time basis. The same system that they’re looking at is the exact same system that we manage our loans on, so if we make notes, they see the notes. If a customer gets a letter, they see that letter. From all their origination docs that were sent over to us for boarding to any and every single piece of correspondence where we interact with that customer, they have full transparency into the process.
In today’s environment, a lot of people manage their book of business by getting a set of monthly reports from their customer. With SIME, our customers can sign on and see that in real time, so there’s no waiting till month-end. They get a standard set of reports they can look at every single day to see where they stand, whether it’s customer interaction, abandonment rate, people signing up on the web delinquency rate to number of modifications completed. They really get a true snapshot of where their portfolio stands.
HW: What are some ways that TMS delivers high-quality customer service for borrowers and clients?
RS: It starts with us from the very first contact we have with a customer, a welcome call. We walk our customers through the whole process, making sure that they understand all the things they can do to self-service their mortgage, from an amortization schedule how they can schedule their payments to be reoccurring payments.
[With TMS’ customer service chatbot] Joy, the automated virtual assistant answering customer questions – each month we go in and see, what’s the No. 1 question and try to figure out with why is it the No. 1 question. We noticed there are a lot of questions on escrow, so we developed videos to put out there online to try to help the customers understand that.
We’re constantly listening to not just our clients, but the customers because they are the ones that we’re interacting with on a day-to-day basis. The more information both those parties have, the better you can improve, whether it’s your IVR [Interactive Voice Response System] or how you’re talking to your customers. That’s what SIME is all about: making sure we get information from both our customers and our clients.
HW: What do customers appreciate about your approach to subservicing?
RS: I think one of the keys is when you actually listen to calls or you look at the customer service. The first-call resolution is very important; that when a customer calls in, they’re not transferred five times to get a simple answer to one question.
The way we developed SIME is to really empower our customer service team to have accurate information that they can relay to the customer. For a lot of shops, a customer might call in and say, “When was my last tax payment made?” and hear “Well, hang on, let me transfer you to the tax department.”
We don’t need to do that; that information is available, so our customer service team is able to answer most of the questions.
Also, about 80+% of our customers are registered on the portal, which is a very high percentage compared to most.
I think sometimes in the mortgage industry, we take it for granted that we understand what an advance is or what a disbursement is, or why did my escrow go up? Our approach is that our customers may not understand that.
It’s just taking the extra time to make sure that the customers understand what they ask. We very seldom give yes or no answers.
HW: What can we look forward to next from TMS?
RS: Our focus is on the subservicing industry. We’re going to continue to enhance SIME and how it can help our clients.
Compliance is extremely important to our clients, and we keep an eye on the industry and how it evolves so SIME is always best equipped to support clients from an oversight perspective.
Each month we look at ways we can make the experience with our clients and our customers more productive and increase the satisfaction scores. We worked very closely with our clients in the development of SIME, so when we talk about SIME to them, we’re asking, what is it now that you see that you want that we’re not providing within SIME?
Going back to our No. 1 goal – the customers. Our main goal is to find ways to make it easier for the customer to work with us.