Sponsored Content from WFG: Responsive Solutions
By Dan Bailey, Senior Vice President, WFG Lender Services & WFG Enterprise Solutions
To make sure the products, programs, and services being developed for the mortgage industry will address its most urgent needs, ask the men and women who will use them.
Last October, WFG’s Enterprise Solutions team surveyed mortgage lending executives and other industry professionals to learn their biggest pain points. We asked what keeps them up at night, what they need to maximize efficiency, and how we can help them improve customer satisfaction.
The responses, plus additional data generated by WFG’s ongoing Net Promoter Score (NPS) assessments, were compiled and presented at WFG’s inaugural Executive Roundtable (ERT) meeting in November 2020.
The ERT meeting, held virtually, brought together a wide range of senior-level industry executives to review the collected findings, contribute any additional concerns, and create a list of top priority issues for us to address. Everything was fair game, whether it required developing new technology, creating customer service protocols, engaging more actively in industry organizations and conferences, or something completely new.
A quarter of the survey respondents felt that delayed turnaround times was the most urgent need to address. Another quarter pointed to process inefficiencies as their primary concern, specifically citing communication, signing and closing issues, and the quality or accuracy of data. The lack of capacity to process incoming orders was the top priority for roughly 18 percent of the other respondents.
Other concerns that were cited as most urgent by a smaller portion of the respondents were grouped together as miscellaneous operational challenges, and ranged from compliance issues and COVID-19 concerns to recording delays, time management, and work-life balance.
In presenting these findings at the ERT meeting, we explained that our objective was to reach consensus on the most salient challenges within our industry, fully aware of how quickly it is evolving. We stressed that these conversations would be confidential, but the results would be made public as part of the process of forging new strategies to eliminate duplicative touchpoints, reduce email traffic, and improve capacity, communication, and turnaround times.
By the time our meeting concluded, the ERT members grouped the responses into four areas of concern: training, collaboration, process efficiency, and communication.
WFG immediately began developing programs to address these four areas and make them available to our clients.
To address the urgent issue related to lack of training about the title and closing process, particularly for new employees entering the mortgage industry, WFG developed a comprehensive training program called “Building a Better Knowledge Base.” We work with our customers to assess where their team members – both new and veteran – need to be better informed. We want this training program to cover the entire loan lifecycle, and as such, it includes training on the appraisal process, title insurance, curative issues, the closing process, and default and foreclosure. This training curricula and materials to address related knowledge gaps are now available in training sessions – which may be conducted in person or remotely, or self-taught.
To address collaboration, we created the “Fostering Collaboration” program. Here, we leaned on the corporate philosophy embedded in WFG since its founding: “Communicate, Collaborate, Co-Exist.” Through expanded collaborative initiatives, lenders will be able to readily remedy communication deficiencies, closing issues, data accuracy, and even vendor costs and turnaround times. For our part, we are using the ERT meetings to update current challenges and possible solutions. Similarly, our industry surveys will continue to identify opportunities for collaboration. We have put a premium on actively participating in industry-related events, panels, and group discussions. These will be a means of both developing and sharing uniform practices that reduce errors and streamline processes.
To optimize process efficiency, the third most urgent issue, we have created a process optimization program that includes process assessment, an optimization plan, and ongoing reviews. The process assessment is done in partnership with each client to identify procedural gaps and constraints that are ripe for refinement. The assessment is followed by a comprehensive optimization plan to implement targeted initiatives for process improvement. With that in place, reviews can be scheduled to routinely assess the effectiveness of completed initiatives and assess future projects. This process optimization effort can be performed in online Zoom sessions or, once the pandemic is behind us, in person. Sessions can use the client’s subject matter experts and be tailored to the length that best suits their work schedule.
And finally, because nearly 10 percent of respondents indicated that communication failure is one of our industry’s biggest challenges, we have invested in telecommunications systems, platform integrations, and new products that streamline the collection and distribution of transactional data. Improving communication between transactional participants may sound simple, but in reality, with everyone working on different systems, different handheld devices, in different time zones, and at different times of the day, it is very difficult to accomplish. WFG has developed a series of communication standards that when deployed would establish successful communication methods and standards, promote the exchange of transaction-specific information, and provide insight into the mortgage loan pipeline and clarify outstanding requirements.
Communication is more than the exchange of information. It is establishing the infrastructure and protocols to ensure communication can occur promptly and unimpaired. For instance, it may seem obvious, but making sure our teams are active and available during clients’ hours of operation can be the key to timely email and call response times.
As Senior Vice President of WFG’s Enterprise Solutions, which includes WFG’s title, property valuation, and default services groups, I oversee our customer interaction as well as the sales channel, while running operations for our centralized national title insurance division, WFG Lender Services. Across those divisions we have instituted an ongoing program of “dashboarding.” Anytime a customer calls, we add a custom dashboard to our system to track what is happening with their business. By using stoplight colors to indicate their operations condition in real time, we can immediately determine if things are working properly, whether there are reasons for concern, or if there is a clear problem that requires immediate attention. This way, our operations people see an issue, sometimes even before the customer is aware of it.
This is an invaluable tool that underlies both collaboration and ensures communication is of the highest value.
Through collaborative surveys of our lender clients and their borrowers, and the ongoing ERT meetings, WFG has been able to fulfill its mission to ensure that the products, programs, and services we design and develop address current challenges, but are also flexible enough to adapt as those challenges evolve.
As we move forward, we will continue to ask lenders what is most important to them. This will enable us to take time and cost out of the real estate transaction for all participants by creating new solutions that enable us to stay ahead of their constantly evolving operational demands and exceed their expectations.
Dan Bailey is Senior Vice President, WFG Lender Services & WFG Enterprise Solutions. Dan has nearly 20 years of experience in the title insurance industry, where he began his career as a compliance officer for a national title insurance company. Throughout his career, Dan has gained a wealth of experience, from running large national operations to product development, marketing, and sales management. He joined WFG as Senior Vice President in the Lender Services Division in 2013. In this role, he oversees operations for WFG’s Lender Services division, heads the company’s Enterprise Solutions sales team and leads strategic direction for both organizations.
Under his leadership, WFG Lender Services has gained the reputation for providing world-class customer service with truly customizable customer-focused solutions. Dan’s leadership has not gone unnoticed by his industry peers. Dan received HousingWire’s Insiders Award in 2019 and Progress in Lending’s Thought Leader and Lending Luminary Awards in 2020.
Dan is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and is a licensed attorney in New York and Pennsylvania.
(Sponsored content includes material submitted independently of the Mortgage Bankers Association and MBA NewsLink and does not connote an MBA endorsement of a specific company, product or service. For more information about sponsored content opportunities, contact Bill Farmakis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203/834-8832.)