When asking a reverse mortgage industry veteran about the first things that come to mind about the way the business works, most will probably describe the consultative nature of educating and assisting seniors through the entire origination process. He or she may go a little further and describe their most successful loans as those that began through a conversation over the kitchen table, where a senior welcomes the professional into their home to talk about the ways a reverse mortgage loan may help their cash flow situation.
As is true with virtually every facet of life, though, the migration of many businesses into the digital realm changed everything. The kitchen table approach remains a tried and true method of cultivating business to be sure, but lenders of every size have also embraced the senior demographic’s own migration into digital realms to appeal to potential clients in new ways.
One such professional who has tracked the ways that seniors interact with digital platforms is Cliff Auerswald, president of Orange, Calif.-based All Reverse Mortgage. At RMD’s Sales & Marketing Forum, Auerswald described how automating certain customer relationship management (CRM) processes allowed the workflow of his entire organization to be streamlined, while also enhancing the customer experience.
The need for automation
Being in California, Auerswald was originating loans in the early days of the company and relates having difficulty managing the leads that were coming in. This led to the repeated writing of proposals, which eventually necessitated something of an automated process, and he quickly realized that technology was the way this could be accomplished.
“It’s an engine, and at some point you just have to have automation,” Auerswald explains. “When setting up initially and being thoughtful in how you’re going to deliver an email drip, personalization is really important. Experts would say that 60% more opening rates [come] with personalization. You have to use personalization in the email subject line. I don’t think I’ve ever sent an email without it.”
Since 2017, email outreach at All Reverse has been done exclusively on SalesEngine, which has a lot of features that reverse mortgage loan officers could potentially find useful, he says, and only becomes more beneficial the more granular an LO can get in setting up a CRM automation.
“They have so many great, useful automations available to a loan officer or an entire organization, called ‘workflow automations,’” he says. “So basically, if you have a lead that comes in, that lead is going to end up in some type of a bucket, or loan status that you’ve created, and you can create an unlimited amount of statuses. For me, it’s ‘new lead,’ which means there has been no contact yet and someone has to get on that. Then, the next status will be ‘proposal sent, no contact,’ then I’ll do another status for ‘proposal sent, made contact.’ You’ve got to get granular into these, because when you set them up, later on you’re going to be very happy that you did all the extra legwork when you’re setting up your CRM.”
Finding the ‘Rocket’ for reverse mortgages
After initally setting up in SalesEngine, the service was going to be adding email delivery through the CRM, which Auerswald says was a game-changer. Using the workflow system to be able to track the processes and to trigger when certain milestones are hit in the origination process helps to keep the client informed every step of the way, and allows the loan officer to know exactly where they are in the process of getting a loan originated.
This feeds into a frustration Auerswald has had, particularly in looking at the ways that the forward mortgage industry has been so quick to embrace certain kinds of technology, citing the e-closings-based Rocket Mortgage as a key example. When looking at the forward business’ strides and then back at the reverse side, a clear deficit begins to emerge in the incorporation of new technologies, he says.
“This is 2021 now, and our industry – we’re like dinosaurs in [comparison] to technology that’s being utilized through other mortgage companies,” he says. “It’s just been a pet peeve of mine for so long, with the failure of the reverse mortgage industry to automate.”
Illustrating how these granular workflow processes operate, Auerswald describes methods of automated communication that also keeps an efficient track record of where certain loans are in terms of the origination process, he explains.
“So, you go from ‘proposal sent, made contact,’ and then maybe you go into application. After you change that status, now you have a workflow that triggers an email directly to the customer, letting them know that ‘thank you, we’ve received your application, and we’re going to start working on it right this second.’ Now, that loan goes through a journey.”
From there, for instance, a processor can change the status again to something that indicates an appraisal has been ordered, and the loan’s workflow can be tracked in such a way that once that order has occurred, the customer can be notified and can then prepare for certain next steps they may have to take to prepare for an appraiser’s upcoming visit.
“You have a workflow that says when your status hits ‘appraisal ordered,’ you’re going to fire off an email to the customer, letting them know that we’ve just ordered their appraisal,” he says. “Within the next 24-to-48 hours, you can tell them what they should expect. ‘Here’s a PDF download of things that you should prepare for before your appraiser comes out.’”
In the end, these kinds of automated processes help to allow the loan originator to track the process of a loan more easily than might be done without these tools, while also enhancing communication and transparency for the borrower throughout the whole process, he says.
“These are all helpful things that improve the customer experience,” Auerswald says. “I’m a big proponent of automations, I couldn’t live without them.”