Tips for a contact center approach to mortgage originations

3 MIN. READ

Reverse mortgages are perceived as one of the most complex and unique financial products, which is why many borrowers find it stressful to acquire them. Marketers traditionally had face-to-face meetings with clients and guided them through the lengthy loan origination process.

However, savvy reverse lenders are effectively using call center personnel to originate these loans.

For such in-house loan originators, getting clients to sign on depends on their ability to develop connections and gain trust quickly. However, lenders should perform due diligence and weigh the projected return on investment before implementing a call center approach to generating loans. Lenders looking to leverage a contact center approach to mortgage originations successfully should keep the following tips in mind.

Identify the problem

When an individual starts to show interest in a reverse mortgage product, there is usually an underlying problem that precipitated such interest, and the lender must solve that problem. It’s important to identify the problem first. It could be health issues, loss of job or primary source of income, or the death of a spouse.

To successfully originate loans from potential clients through the contact center approach to mortgage originations, loan officers must be good and empathetic listeners. Once they identify the problem, they can leverage their expertise and guide the client in choosing the product that best fits the situation.

Anticipate questions

On average, customers have approximately 10-15 questions when it comes to loan originations. Loan officers who expertly answer these questions rapidly build trust and instant credibility with clients. As such, lenders should anticipate the questions that borrowers may have and come up with responses that are concise and clear.

Get personal

For conversations to be genuine and personal, they shouldn’t just focus on business dealings alone. To build rapport with clients, it’s a good idea to take a break from all the finance talk and connect. This means getting personal with clients and learning about their day-to-day lives and interests.

Loan officers should ask questions to find out if they’re college football fans, cat lovers, soccer fans or if they like to play the piano or go fishing or backpacking. Such personal information can be great for building connections and common points of interest. It’s also a good idea for lenders to share information about themselves. This makes for more interesting, engaging and meaningful conversations between clients and loan officers.

Tailor the conversation

It’s essential that loan officers do not use a script or a one-size-fits-all approach when communicating with leads. Since clients are different and their situations are unique, it’s best to tailor the conversation to their particular perspective. Loan officers should try to understand the persons at the other end of the line and alter their approach and tone based on their take on the client’s personality and needs.

Be sensitive

Since finances is an intimate and touchy subject for many, loan officers must be extra sensitive when speaking with potential borrowers. Drawing out customers over the phone and getting them to share their story requires a delicate touch. As such, loan officers should project sincerity, confidence and an air of honesty in all their interactions with clients. Before engaging customers on a sensitive topic, it’s a good idea to ask for permission. This helps prevents awkward situations during the conversation.

Conclusion

Although taking a contact center approach to mortgage originations can yield several benefits (including higher-quality leads, more customers and increased revenue), lenders should perform due diligence before embarking on such a project. They should factor in expenses with regards to infrastructure and staffing and weigh the expected benefits against these costs. They should also include leads and other marketing expenses when calculating the value of operating a consumer-direct call center.

One bonus tip that goes without saying: When using a contact center approach to mortgage originations you need to make sure that training for loan officers on active listening, being empathetic and knowing their product from A to Z is on point. This will enable them to take control of the conversation, no matter the situation at hand.

At Call Center Optimization Group we can help you find the perfect partner to start outsourcing mortgage originations. We have spent years researching and vetting the call center marketplace and we are confident we can leverage this experience to find the perfect partner for your business success. We go through the entire Outsourcing Lifecycle process to ensure you will get only the best, without all of the risks associated. The best is: We offer this service at NO COST.

Contact us today.

Customer-Centric Online Retailers Emphasize Good Call Center Service

5 MIN. READ

Long-term growth and success depend largely on customer loyalty and satisfaction. The Customers 2020 Report predicts that customer experience will overtake product and prices as the key brand differentiator by 2020.

Coupled with evolving customer service complexities and expectations, customer service has become a top priority for brands worldwide. As such, forward-thinking businesses are taking a customer-first approach to call center operations and readjusting processes and procedures to deliver even more strategic value.

The growing importance of ‘customer-centricity’

Research carried out by Deloitte and Touche found that customer-centric organizations were 60% more profitable than their competitors, while a Forrester study shows that 72% of customer-centric businesses have made improving customer experience a top priority.

Both Zappos and Amazon are prime examples of brands that have spent years building a culture around their customers’ needs by emphasizing a customer-centric culture in all their contact point.

In today’s business landscape, “customer-centricity” has become so important that tech giants like Oracle have created new roles like that of CCO (Chief Customer Officer) to deliver amazing customer experience across all touch points consistently.

Such organizations are coordinating and adapting all customer contact points to deliver strategic value and meet evolving customer expectations.

Building a customer-centric culture through improved call center operations

Building a customer-centric culture involves identifying what customers want and creating conversations as well as products/services to fulfill their wants, needs and requirements. A key part of implementing a customer-first culture revolves around improved contact center operations.

Driven by the desire to reduce costs, raise customer satisfaction scores and deliver better-personalized customer experiences to a growing digital consumer base, savvy brands are looking for ways to improve their call center service.

Leveraging technology to improve customer call experience

In particular, customer-centric online retailers have begun investing in customer-facing technology solutions to improve the customer call experience. These solutions, which are redefining the way brands interact with customers, include chatbots, AI-driven robots, RPA (robotic process automation) and functionalities such as self-service capabilities in IVR (interactive voice response) systems.

The widespread adoption of chatbots and AI

Amazon is one of the brands that have done an excellent job and are showing the world how bots and AI can be applied in customer service without sacrificing customer satisfaction. Today, 25% of companies with customer-facing sites are deploying bots to handle simple, low-level questions, and using higher-skilled workers to address more involved contacts (and try to upsell while they are at it).

Another company created an omnichannel experience that merges online and customer data so call center agents can access info on the customer’s browsing history and experience with the firm. The effect reportedly raised customer satisfaction scores by 7%. To achieve these results, brands must leverage the right mix of technology and processes.

Although a Deloitte survey indicates that phone calls are expected to account for only 47% of contacts, 93% of executives surveyed at consumer and industrial product firms expect contact volume to remain the same or grow.

This reflects the growing use of bots and AI. In Amazon’s help experience, chat has become the first option for customers hunting for help while call center personnel handles more involved issues. Done correctly, this will drastically reduce the volume of calls coming through your call center, freeing up personnel to deliver more personalized service to customers with more complex issues.

To stay ahead of the competition, improve customer satisfaction scores and ensure customer loyalty, online retailers must take proactive steps to deliver better contact center service by emphasizing a customer-centric culture across all touchpoints.

By leveraging customer-facing technology (especially bots and AI) in their workflows, call centers can increase revenue, reduce costs and deliver an awesome customer experience.

You can learn more about how to use technology to enhance your customers’ experiences by scheduling a consultation with Call Center Optimization Group. We can help. Call us now at 1-888-650-5880.

Calculating call center staffing to support patients and employees

2 MIN. READ


Call center staffing can be a notoriously difficult puzzle to solve. However, accurately forecasting the demand for staff, particularly during peak periods, is critical for call center success. Understaffing a contact center increases both customer and employee attrition, whereas overstaffing wastes money. Some health plans, medical groups, and companies attempt to determine their call center staffing as a ratio of total members or customers. Unfortunately, ratios rarely consider peak times for customer calls. Accurate calculations are needed for call center staffing in order to support customer expectations and mitigate employee turnover.

Customer expectations have increased

The reality of call centers is that customer expectations are set based on their most recent, best experience. Managers can no longer depend on internal progress over previous years or months as customers are comparing their experience with every call center experience, including those with competitors or outside industry.

Customer expectations have increased while patience and tolerance for long wait times has decreased. Before a contact center can calculate appropriate staffing levels, the business must make strategic decisions regarding customer service levels. Market analysis combined with business goals will provide the necessary information for the next step in appropriate staffing levels.

Calculating call center staffing

Unfortunately, call center staffing cannot follow standard operational workforce formulas. Standard procedure states businesses take the full amount of work available and in what time frame to calculate how many staff members are needed. Contact centers do not function based on back-to-back tasks, though.

Instead, call center staffing must consider peak times of day, the day of week and time of year combined with staff experience and caller needs. While SOP formula might state 10 staff members are needed for one hour’s worth of calls, a call center might receive 15 calls in the first 15 minutes of the hour. Suddenly, customer satisfaction bottoms out as the average call wait time skyrockets.

Another important metric to consider is average talk time. While the average talk time during one part of the day might be a consistent two minutes, the talk time could double later in the day due to compounding factors. All of which are important aspects to accurate staffing.

The best formula for call center staffing analyzes peak times and average call data to achieve an effective rate of customer satisfaction without excess downtime, essentially narrowing in on the sweet spot of your organization’s goals.

Importance of accurate staffing

Health care and medical organizations have become increasingly focused on the patient experience as customers have more options and choices regarding providers. Staffing based on customer service strategies and business goals can provide stronger customer loyalty and better patient satisfaction, which can translate into longer employee tenure.

Over 70 percent of a call center’s cost is personnel, and turnover costs 16 percent gross annual earnings of an agent. Long wait times and unhappy customers increase employee dissatisfaction as agents deal with heightened frustration, which, in turn, increases turnover. Staffing your contact center with enough agents to handle demand at appropriate customer service levels will relieve stress from the overall workforce.

Accurate staffing provides better customer satisfaction that translates into increased patient loyalty. Similarly, higher customer satisfaction and lower wait times provide a better work environment for your agents. Overall, accurate call center staffing is essential to operating a successful contact center.

Click here for a free consultation on how the Call Center Optimization Group can maximize your call center staffing.